What’s it like to be you?
Many books have been written using changing narrators, including last years NHBA winner, EVERY SOUL A STAR. In THE CANDYMAKERS, we get a unique chance to hear and understand the same short period of time from four completely different perspectives. The facts remain unchanged; Philip dips his finger in the chocolate and Logan charms the bees in each version. But our understanding of these events broadens with each new narrator, and we gain insights that otherwise would have gone unseen.
One of my favorite themes from THE CANDYMAKERS is just that–learning that the world looks different through each person’s eyes, that we alone can narrate our own experience in the world. And, even the kindest, most empathetic person can still only truly understand someone else’s experience by hearing it straight from the person and seeing it through their eyes.
Miles is one of those really empathetic and caring people. He is so empathetic, in fact, that his belief that he’d seen a girl drown in a lake and was unable to help her was beginning to unravel his life. But, he only understood part of the story–saw the experience through his eyes only. So until he learns more about it from Daisy’s perspective later, he doesn’t really understand at all.
ACTIVITY: Trying to make sense of it all…Miles’s technique
Much of what we do as people is aimed at understanding the world around us and trying to make sense of it. Miles created a technique that he thought helped do that. He gathered random sentences from books in the library and carried them in his pocket, feeling reassured in knowing that the words would be there to help him better understand the things he experienced and make choices about how to respond to those experiences–something I’ve always appreciated myself about books!
Let’s walk in Miles’s shoes and see if there really is something to those mysterious, random sentences helping in some way or another. To do this, let’s head to Miles’s favorite place in the world, a place where he would choose to live if he could–the library! (Of course, many of us book lovers would be more than happy to join him there, I’m sure!)
His method is simple. Go to the nonfiction section of the library. Close your eyes, grab a book. Move a few feet further, turn around, grab another, then on to another aisle and repeat until you have five books full of knowledge and far away worlds (as Miles himself described). Choosing the sentences is pretty much the same, flipping through the books with averted eyes and haphazard finger placement.
Now for that magical power words can create for you to see the world through a new lens!
Carry the words around for a day or two. Think broadly about all the different meanings or symbolism your sentences may have. Does your understanding of the sentences guide you, help you when you are faced with a problem, or maybe make you aware of something you might have missed otherwise?
Consider, too, how Miles’ five sentences from the Life Is Sweet factory library* might been interpreted by Logan or Daisy or Philip? What about you, someone probably very different from Miles? Does your personality and life experiences effect the meaning of those exact same words?
You can also try this with your book club or family. Pick five random sentences from books at home or at the library. Give each person a copy of the same sentences to carry around for a day or two. Meet back to discuss and compare (or maybe this is something very private for each person like it was for Miles, which is okay too). Either way, the value is in the power of the words for each individual.
One more thing…Poems and Quotes
Try following Logan’s example by carrying a poem or quote every day and see how those words inspire and affect your day. Would the power of those words be the same for some else? Give a poem or a quote to a friend or family member for them to carry, then ask them later how those applied to the their day. It might turn into a special tradition for years to come.
In fact, April is National Poetry Month and, as part of that, Poem in Your Pocket Day is April 26th! Here you can find a place to sign up to receive a poem by email every day in April, a place to download .pdf poems to place in your pocket or share, and even a book that has poems for young people that can be torn out and carried or shared.
If you’re more of a quote person, the Brainy Quote website has a Quote of the Day. Another good site for quotes is Inspirational Quotes. Browse around–it won’t take you long to find something that inspires you!
~Valerie & Michelle
*In case you forgot Miles’s sentences…
- Butterscotch was first created in England two hundred years ago.
- The universe, and everything in it, might not actually exist.
- Over time, I’ve learned to tell the breed of dog by the appearance of its bowel movements.
- “You have been my friend; that in itself is a tremendous thing.”
- Humans and chimpanzees share over 98 percent of their DNA; humans and butterflies share at least 25 percent.