As a parent who hauls books around to restaurants and appointments so I have something to read to my daughter instead of pulling out my smart phone, I love the low-tech and mobile qualities of this “toy”. Even more, I love the creative possibilities, the possibility for story, and the million possibilities that the word “story” invites.
Every time we play this game, I am reminded (with joy but also not a little jealousy) of how much more creative my daughter is than I am. How many more wonderful places her imagination takes her. She does not write books. She cannot even write. She does not read books. She cannot even read. She has no degrees. But she kicks my butt at storytelling. Her plot and character development may be spotty, less refined, yes. But the things that the things in her stories do and say - unfettered by reason, the laws of gravity and science, and all else we adults know is and isn’t possible - are far more interesting than the things that the things in my stories do and say. As a simple example, the first time we used it she immediately made the train fly over the sun. How cool. I would not have done that. I, in fact, was still thinking of what to do.
Every parent knows both the power of a child’s imagination and a child’s capacity to teach us. As a children’s book author, I get even more out of these truths. My daughter teaches me about writing everyday. Playing pretend and making up stories, such as this handmade toy encourages, is great for my writing. In fact, sometimes the best thing I can do for my writing is not to sit down and write, but to play with my daughter. Play, not think. To live in her 3-year-old world and see my 33-year-old world through 3-year-old eyes. To open her little brown Once Upon A Time box, and find yet another unexpected way to get to The End.