by Rita Goldner
A friend recently shared with me this quote, from T. H. White, The Once and Future King:
“The best thing for being sad,” replied Merlin, beginning to puff and blow, “is to learn something. That’s the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then – to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the only thing for you. Look what a lot of things there are to learn.”
My friend meant it as a general “life-advice” thing, but since I am an obsessed author/illustrator I interpret it in the context of my writing, reading, researching, publishing, and marketing world. My current opportunity, shared with all my fellow authors, is to present that remedy for “being sad,” the “thing that never fails” to our reading audience. Before anyone assumes that the learning has to be sophisticated and profound, be aware that in my case, the audience is 5 to 8 years old. This group, usually with an adult reading to them, seems fascinated with dinosaurs, construction equipment, and underpants. I recently bought the trifecta to read to my grandson: a picture book about dinosaurs, in their underpants, operating cranes and bulldozers. Needless to say, a big hit.
In my own reading escapes, I’m only looking for entertainment, but the unintended byproduct is learning “why the world wags and what wags it.” I never liked history or geography presented academically in school, but since I’m a fan of James A. Michener, I couldn’t help but learn about Hawaii, Texas, Colorado (Centennial), Chesapeake Bay (Chesapeake), and Israel (The Source).
Since I’m now immersed in researching children’s literature, I’ve come to realize that for the little ones, the learning isn’t just about the subject matter; it’s about the power of communication, the whole palette of adventures they can explore, how the world works, and even their own self-worth. It’s a humbling and very exciting challenge for me!
Rita Goldner is the author of the children’s eBooks Jackson’s History Adventure and Jackson’s Aviation Adventure, both titles in Jackson’s Adventure Series. Rita’s forthcoming book, Orangutan: A Day in the Rainforest Canopy, will be released this summer. To view additional illustrations and other books in progress, visit Rita’s website. Contact Rita here. Follow Rita on Facebook.