June 9, 2006

Children's Books

The other day I ran across the book version of The Red Balloon. I always enjoy looking at it because its pictures are very vivid in my early memory. The French window shutters. The railing outside the shop the boy goes to. The thick yarn tied to the balloon, looking more robust than the string on any balloon I ever had.

Upon this reading the whole thing seemed like a Christological allegory. The balloon chooses the boy, giving him wonder and delight. Then the balloon is killed by bullies. The boy is sad, but then many more balloons appear, and they take the boy up into the sky. The great crime of the Lord's Passion is followed by the wonder of the Resurrection, which renovates us, creation and all of history.

Along these lines I was also thinking about The Giving Tree. What are we to make of it? Is it an illustration of Christ's self-emptying and self-expending love? Or is it about an acquisitive and demanding man and the co-dependent tree who kills herself in a vain attempt to please his greed for experience? Apparently there's a lively debate on this book; here's a set of essays from, of all places, First Things.

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