The adult world is in many ways a betrayal of all the magic and wonder we experienced as a child. When we grow up, we discover that most of the time grinches do not return stolen toys, wolves devour little pigs, Bambi gets shot and eaten, tornados will kill you rather than take you to Oz, and wishing upon balls of burning gas hurtling thought the cold void of space many light years away doesn’t achieve much. More often than not, when we become adults, all the stories that wowed us as children are shelved under “fantasy.”
And this is understandable. Growing up facing the endless stream of challenges and frustrations that the average person faces has a way of dulling our senses. Sure we survive, and we have our victories. But the scars of our battles, the accumulation of unrealized dreams and stifled hopes, tend to make many people cynical. Some look back upon childhood as a cruel hoax. Others do view it as a precious experience that they long for and cherish, but still an experience with little practical application for grownups. And finally, others forget it or don’t think about it that much. After all, they may reason, to survive in the adult world we cannot be like children. And what can the world of a child possibly teach us about dealing with the complexities and brutal realities of the real world?
My opinion of childhood used to be a mix of the above: until I began to write. Then one day I saw a picture of an animal in a particular situation and a little girl came out of nowhere in my mind. The girl took a look at the animal and excitedly went over to tell her dad she had found a “zebra.” This dad was skeptical of the discovery made by this girl whose name is Nell. Nevertheless, he and his wife Rhonda chose to take Nell to look for the zebra and, to quote Robert Frost’s immortal poem, “that…made all the difference.” I won’t tell you the ending of this short story but suffice it to say that the animal Nell saw turned out to be part flesh and part metaphor.
To my surprise, four other stories involving Nell and her family followed. A brave insect set forth to where no insect had gone before, Poe’s poem “The Raven” came to life in a very particular way, a Christmas tree acquired meaning, and a long-forgotten superhero made a triumphant return.
In these five stories the skeptical world of adults collided with the magical world of childhood and sparks of wisdom flew everywhere. I had rediscovered the ability to see the world through the eyes of a child. I say “rediscovered” because it was always there, only I didn’t use it. So I gathered these tales together in a book of “children’s stories for grownups,” and I published them on Amazon as an ebook to share my epiphany with others. The stated aim of the book is to help us discover or rediscover some of the amazing things that children can teach us adults about life.
I want to let my readers know that I have published a paperback edition of The Sun Zebra, so if instead of an e-book you want a physical copy of the book, you can find it on Amazon here.
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