Monday, August 3, 2009
Now before I get into this, let me put out a disclaimer: This book isn't GAY at all. Nope. Not G, or L, or B, or T, or Q... Though it includes Fairies, they're the tiny kind with wings, and there's absolutely no sense of irony in the use of the word.
But I have to blog about it anyway. And give you a spoiler alert. I'm gonna talk about what happens.
So I’m reading, with my kid, the second book of this "Rainbow Magic" chapter book "Joy, The Summer Vacation Fairy." They’re written by what I suspect is a collective of writers all writing under the pen-name “Daisy Meadows” (because, really – what parent would be THAT cruel?) and I get completely upset.
No, I’m not upset that Rachel and Kirsty help Joy the Summer Vacation Fairy get back one of the magical seashells from that mean ol' Jack Frost just in time to magically restore the stolen wind and thus save the sailboat regatta.
What pisses me off is the subplot. Rachel and Kirsty’s Dads rented a sailboat to enter the regatta. And the girls don’t want their families (and everyone else) to be disappointed if, on account of there being no wind, the race is canceled.
So, after Rachel and Kirsty and Joy the Summer Vacation Fairy successfully get the magic seashell back and – in the nick of time – restore the winds to the harbor so that the regatta isn’t canceled after all, the race begins.
The girls are standing there with their mothers, watching their Dads race in the same boat, and they’re cheering them on. And it looks like their Dads are in the lead... And then, they WIN!
Hurray, everyone cheers, cue the happy ending.
WHAT? WAIT JUST A MINUTE.
WHY did the Dads have to WIN? Wasn’t it happy enough that the race happened? That everyone had a good time?
We already HAD the happy ending of the girls succeeding in their mission.
Their families are on vacation. They fathers have to RENT a boat. They’ve never discussed sailing before. It’s not like they’re professionals at this.
NOTHING would have been lost if the book had ended with the race just being FUN for everyone. We know very little about the parents in this series, and I promise you their sailing abilities are completely unimportant to the plot of this book, or even the arc of the entire series (this is the 16th "Rainbow Magic" book I’ve read with my kid.)
But it’s so illustrative of our culture's obsession with winning. And I think it’s a horrible set-up for our kids. Okay, yes, they should beat mean Jack Frost and get the magic seashell back. I like a happy ending.
Yet in a way this subplot is saying that you can't have fun unless you win. That's a terrible theme.
What better life lessons might have been expressed if the fathers hadn’t won, yet been good sports and had a great time anyway?
I know subplots don’t often get a lot of attention, but this time, I wished I had a magic fairy wand, so "Daisy Meadows" could see the lost opportunity she made in writing this one.
And now, back to reading about Kirsty and Rachel's quest to help Joy the Summer Vacation Fairy in book three, "The Magic Scallop Shell." Oh, no! I see a "Seagull ex machina" coming toward us...