On Good vs. Evil in Sofia the First

I recently shared an article on Facebook by a local writing instructor who describes literary fiction as follows: “‘Literary fiction boils down to: ‘Stories that are not obvious conflicts between Good and Evil’ and/or ‘Stories With Unpredictable Endings.’” I liked this succinct description as I often struggle with how to explain literary versus genre fiction other than “it’s deeper, not as black and white…it’s hard to explain.” But this explanation is very suitable and I found myself thinking about it as I watched “Sofia the First” last night with my children before bed. It’s one of the few Disney Jr shows I don’t mind paying attention to: there’s always a clear conflict with a few obstacles thrown in the way, and a neat resolution reached by the end of the thirty minute show – definitely more genre then literary. But last night I listened to my kids talk about one of the characters (a friend of Cedric’s, the Sorcerer) who they described as “a little bit good and bad.” Even Cedric – who usually appears hellbent on stealing Sofia’s magical amulet so he can have power over the kingdom – always makes the right choice in the end; he can’t bring himself to go all the way with his evil intentions. Though he craves prestige and power, he is ultimately not willing to sell his soul for all of that. In this episode, his friend appears generally naughty, stirring up trouble with spells, but by the end, both magicians are working together, under the orders of Baileywick, the Castle Steward (a total archetypal martyr character), to save many members of the royal family from sailing into a large rock. [Read more…]

Suspend

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Has anyone else played this  game: SUSPEND? Maybe, like us, you received it as a gift for the holidays? At our house, it has been a hit, for big and little kids. Here’s how Melissa & Doug describes it on their web site:

“Suspend comes with 24 notched, rubber-tipped wire pieces to hang from a tabletop stand. Sound easy? Try adding another piece! Each time a bar is added, the balance shifts, the difficulty changes and the incredible midair sculpture transforms. Can you add all your game pieces without making it fall? This tricky game for 1-4 players is a test of steady nerves and steady hands.” [Read more…]

Goodnight, Childhood Home

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Here’s the view from the living room of my childhood home. It’s a picture window that looks out to the front yard, to the long twisty driveway that leads down to Point O’ Woods Road South, a cul-de-sac in Darien, Connecticut. This room and its view are special for a number of reasons; here are thirteen: 1) the living room is original to the home, built in 1936, 2) this picture window is one of the defining architectural features of the home, of which the builder was particularly proud 3) the second owner of this home, photojournalist Margaret Bourke-White spent countless hours in this room, thinking and writing, 4) she  lined the opposite wall with a photo-mural created out of photographs she took of a Bohemian forest, 4) it’s where she most likely spent many months valiantly fighting the disease that would eventually take her life, leaving behind a legacy so vast and impressive that I continue to be amazed by the strength and character of this woman who came of age in the 20s and 30s, 5) this is the room in which my family placed our tree [Read more…]