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Remembering and reuniting fragments : an autobiographical and theoretical exploration of children's stories… Ehrenholz, Karen M 2014

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  REMEMBERING AND REUNITING FRAGMENTS: AN AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL AND THEORETICAL EXPLORATION OF CHILDREN’S STORIES OFFERING HEALING AND HOPE TO A YOUNG CHILD    by   Karen M. Ehrenholz   B.Ed., University of British Columbia, 1984      A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF      MASTER OF ARTS   in   The Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (Children’s Literature)    THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA (Vancouver)      October 2014      © Karen M. Ehrenholz, 2014  ii   Abstract This thesis explores my relationship with my mother as a young child through the lens of children’s fiction and film. It is comprised of poems, each of which embodies my understanding of aspects of texts I engaged with throughout my early childhood. The poems are my response to themes, images, and phrases that I integrated into my own world view and belief systems in the context of a turbulent childhood. Themes that emerge include: a mother-daughter relationship, family secrets, trauma, abuse, and the transformative power of children’s book characters and stories. My exploration reveals the key role libraries and children’s fiction and film played in informing my childhood story. Children’s stories pulled me up and out of the ashes and rubble of my familial home and abusive maternal relationship. Children’s stories showered me with hope where none existed. This thesis is my attempt to distill the shadows and suffering of my childhood into something luminous and light (Martel, 2009). Visiting the library as well as reading and viewing children’s stories, helped me prosper emotionally, cognitively, and relationally; stories offered me healing. Through reading children’s books and projecting my thoughts and emotions onto the characters and their individual plights, I gathered insights, encouragement, clarity, and courage that helped me understand my mother in the broader context of my life, and to move beyond survival to thriving as a grown woman--as mother to my own children, as well as professional teacher nurturing the minds and hearts of others’ children. Following the poetic component of the thesis is a discussion of the approach I have undertaken, which might be described as a combination of poetic inquiry, narrative research, memoir, life writing, autobiography and autoethnography. I have elected to position this piece following the thesis, as a reflection, so as to let the poetry stand in the first place on its own, as a iii  valid form of academic discourse.  iv  Preface   This thesis is original, unpublished, independent work by the author Karen M. Ehrenholz.   v  Table of Contents Abstract .......................................................................................................................................... ii Preface ........................................................................................................................................... iv Table of Contents  ......................................................................................................................... v List of Figures .............................................................................................................................. vii Acknowledgements .................................................................................................................... viii Dedication  .................................................................................................................................... ix Introduction ................................................................................................................................... 1 1963................................................................................................................................................. 3 In the Beginning I Have a Dream ............................................................................................ 3 1964................................................................................................................................................. 7 Are You My Mother? ............................................................................................................... 7 1965............................................................................................................................................... 19 Mary Poppins  ......................................................................................................................... 19 1966............................................................................................................................................... 29 Where the Wild Things Are  .................................................................................................. 29 1967............................................................................................................................................... 33 Pippi Longstocking  ................................................................................................................ 33 1968............................................................................................................................................... 46 Oliver Twist  ............................................................................................................................ 46 1969............................................................................................................................................... 68 Blind Men  ............................................................................................................................... 68 1966............................................................................................................................................... 78 Red is Best  ............................................................................................................................... 78 The Method to My Madness  ..................................................................................................... 82 Choice of Texts  ....................................................................................................................... 82 Process ...................................................................................................................................... 82 Poetry as My Mode of Expression  ........................................................................................ 84 Research Methodology Approaches  ..................................................................................... 85 Writing Autobiography  ........................................................................................................ 85 Writing Memoir  ................................................................................................................... 86 Personal Narrative  ................................................................................................................ 87 Writing Autoethnography  .................................................................................................... 87 Poetic Inquiry and Life Writing  .......................................................................................... 88 Research Methodology  ........................................................................................................ 88 The Merit of Personal Narratives and Poetry Within Scholarly Research  .......................... 91 Deconstruction  ............................................................................................................................ 94 Reader Response  ........................................................................................................................ 95 The Cathartic Comforting Nature of Reading Story ............................................................... 98 vi  The Power of Imagination to Transform .................................................................................. 99 A Psychological Perspective  .................................................................................................... 101 A Cathartic Closing  ................................................................................................................. 104 References  ................................................................................................................................. 106 Appendix A  ............................................................................................................................... 113 About the Selected Literary Texts  ...................................................................................... 113   vii  List of Figures Figure 1. Karen in her baton costume. Circa 1966 ....................................................................... 10 Figure 2. Karen standing in the backyard of her Vancouver home. Circa 1964 ........................... 14 Figure 3. Karen in Mary Poppins costume. Circa 1965 ................................................................ 27 Figure 4. Dunbar Branch of Vancouver Public Library exterior. 1950. ....................................... 29 Figure 5. Dunbar Branch of Vancouver Public Library interior. 1950 ......................................... 30 Figure 6. Vancouver childhood home. Circa 1973 ....................................................................... 39 Figure 7. Karen’s eighth birthday party. 1968 .............................................................................. 49 Figure 8. Karen posing in her new pink dress. Circa 1969 ........................................................... 71 Figure 9. Story arc resembling a series of small hills. .................................................................. 83   viii  Acknowledgements To Alison Acheson and Teresa Dobson, I would like to thank you both for your support, patience, wise direction, and belief in me as a writer. Without you my thesis would still be shadows on a page. To Carl Leggo, for your affirmation of the poet in me.  To Patrick Hercus and Patricia Crowe, for being my ‘enlightened witnesses’. To Summer 2014 LLED 445 students, thank you for your receptiveness and encouragement of my poetic offerings.  To Jennifer Abel of UBC Research Commons, for your invaluable and patient help with formatting. To the Authors and Illustrators of my chosen childhood books, for telling your stories which allowed me to hope and dream and heal. To my daughters Hannah and Vanessa, for your tangible love that trusts and believes and reminds and reflects that I am a walking miracle and a magnificent mother.  ix   Dedication   My story is for you, Hannah. Written to you, for you, and with you in mind. You who love me always You who see the loveliness in me when I cannot You who believe in me when I lose hope.  This story is for you, Vanessa. You who stand with me and by me when the ghosts of the past cloud my countenance you love me all the more. You who wait and touch me tenderly and with compassion when I descend, then disappear into my faraway place where you cannot follow.  My story is for you both and your daughters so women in our ancestral lineage are aware that we are free of familial abuse because I broke the silence Because you cared to listen Because it mattered to speak my truth  To push my shadows into the Light. 1   Introduction This thesis explores my relationship with my mother as a young child through the lens of children’s fiction and film. It is comprised of poems, each of which embodies my understanding of aspects of texts I engaged with throughout my early childhood. The poems are my response to themes, images, and phrases that I integrated into my own world view and belief systems in the context of a turbulent childhood. Themes that emerge include: a mother-daughter relationship, family secrets, trauma, abuse, and the transformative power of children’s book characters and stories. My exploration reveals the key role libraries and children’s fiction and film played in informing my childhood story. Children’s stories pulled me up and out of the ashes and rubble of my familial home and abusive maternal relationship. Children’s stories showered me with hope where none existed. This thesis is my attempt to distill the shadows and suffering of my childhood into something luminous and light (Martel, 2009). Visiting the library as well as reading and viewing children’s stories, helped me prosper emotionally, cognitively, and relationally; stories offered me healing. Through reading children’s books and projecting my thoughts and emotions onto the characters and their individual plights, I gathered insights, encouragement, clarity, and courage that helped me understand my mother in the broader context of my life, and to move beyond survival to thriving as a grown woman--as mother to my own children, as well as professional teacher nurturing the minds and hearts of others’ children. Following the poetic component of the thesis is a discussion of the approach I have undertaken, which might be described as a combination of poetic inquiry, narrative research, memoir, life writing, autobiography and autoethnography. I have elected to position this piece 2  following the thesis, as a reflection, so as to let the poetry stand in the first place on its own, as a valid form of academic discourse. 3  1963 In the Beginning I Have a Dream    March on Washington, August    Tonight I have a dream a bad dream I walk into the living room where Father stands and Mother sits shouting Mother tells me to quiet down  She turns and yells at the box with the rabbit ears black and white beads run all over the screen Father pounds his fist on the box “Piece of rubbish”  Father stands beside the box Mother shouts “Don’t move” He holds the rabbit ears in a funny shape A fuzzy sound crackles  “There he is” Father bends forward the rabbit ears stretch apart all I see are black and white beads Mother yells “Don’t move”  I lean into the couch it holds me my fuzzy pajamas warm me  I look over at the box 4  I see black and white people Everywhere A man is shouting Loud Shaking his fist He has a dream  “Huh! A Blackie thinks he can change the world   Everyone thinks he can change the world”  Father drops the rabbit ears the box goes fuzzy  Mother marches me to bed I have no dream  just a wish for Mama to look at me and smile    September  Today we moved to a new house on a new street in a new city in a new province in the same country in the same world where frogs chatter in the laurel trees outside and sing so loud I cannot hear my little sister cry  Mother does not like the pink and blue paint in the kitchen Men come to scratch it off  Mother’s kitchen is cloudy then everything turns brown I liked the pink and blue kitchen best 5  because I could breathe Now something heavy presses down chokes my breath my chest gurgles like a diesel truck idling each time I inhale  Mother plugs in a machine that spits steam into the air “It will help you”  Mother presses me down against my mattress scrubs my swollen neck and chest with Vicks Vapor Rub I wriggle and twist Mother shouts “Hold still” Stuffs a blob up my nose Mother forgets that I am not the kitchen linoleum with black scuff marks “Say your prayers” comes the command “Now I lay me down to sleep I pray the Lord my soul to keep love stay with me through the night wake me with the morning light”  “Now, go to sleep” I suck in a deep breath “Do you love me?” “Go to sleep” “Click” the light goes out “Clack   Clack” Mother’s shoes walk away “Clunk” the door snaps closed  Now I miss my old house and my backyard skating rink 6  and my log cabin playhouse And sunshine at bedtime where I could breathe and Mother did not yell at me  I close my eyes I have a dream that I can change  my world    November Today I am sad Brother runs past me Fast Points his toy gun “Bang  Bang  You’re dead”  a gun shot JFK  a very sad day 7  1964 Are You My Mother?    “Out came the baby bird! ‘Where is my mother?’ he said” (Eastman, 1963, p. 9).  “‘I have to find my mother!’ he said. ‘But where? Where is she? Where could she be?’” (Eastman, 1963, p. 27).    January  Mother steps around my bed pushes away the curtain plugs in the humidifier my lungs are plugged with phlegm and groaning So is Mother  I am sick   Again Another cold in my chest  Mother leans over my head Her lips touch my forehead Quick  Cold  Hard like the man at the post office who pounds the envelope with his inked stamp Are you MY Mother?  March  Mother grips a pair of scissors Orders me to stand on the toilet Her long finger nails painted red cut   into my arm She snaps the scissors   open and closed across my brow  I squeeze my eyelids together hold my breath a sour smell 8  pushes against my face I scrunch my nose “Stand still” Her nails bite deeper into my arm  The cold blade   cuts a path from ear to ear shards of hair prick my face I pray her hand stays steady that her sour breath is only unbrushed teeth  Are you REALLY my Mother?    April  I jump up tug open the curtains sun smiles inside my room outside in Mother’s garden rows of flowers wear yellow bonnets and swing in the sunshine  little fairies wear pink skirts and dance in the tree like Ann’s tutu wind blows one pink fairy  lets go jumps free spins and twirls round and round to the ground  ********  It is Saturday Baton lessons at the Dunbar Community Centre I hold a shiny metal stick with hard rubber like old chewing gum stuck to each end 9   Mother brushes my hair into two pigtails Pulls my black leotard with green fringe Hand sewn   Straight   Even like grass strands around Mother’s garden like my bangs  Mother sees a loose hair Yanks without warning Pain bites my scalp like a needle poking skin to remove a sliver  Coats drop   shoes scatter stocking feet patter mothers sit on benches My Mother stands apart  girls wait for the music to begin I swing in circles to make my fringe dance  “March”  Mother says with her meat grinder eyes then turns   and leaves to buy groceries across the street at Stongs  I am smallest the caboose in a long line of girls who march around the big room I pull my knees up high swing my baton forward and back I march two steps then run to catch up then march again  I watch my feet and the wooden floors painted with squares of sunshine where tiny specks dance in the air 10   The music stops class is over Mother glances over at the other ladies a pasted smile like my Barbie doll  I jump into the back seat of our Chevrolet Impala Mother turns around  “Bad girl” Mother wants to be a majorette I want to spin with the fairies      Figure 1. Karen in her baton costume. Circa 1966 [primary source].     May  Without warning a hurricane hits the house thunders down the hallway  I dive into my closet as my bedroom door flies open “Wait till I get my hands on you You little bastard”  I wriggle behind winter coats 11  tug my knees against my chest Mother moves wildly pulling open and slamming drawers throwing blankets aside Her shoes stop  Mother inhales and exhales Her breath blasts in and out like wind thrashing shirts and pants pegged to our clothes line My chest thumps echoes in my ears I squeeze my eyelids together  This is not like playing Hide n’ Seek with Heidi Heidi’s mom whistles Her words smile when she speaks and makes us lunch  I open my eyes Mother’s feet stare up at me  “Wait till I get my hands on you you little bastard...” Her arm reaches in shoves coats and dresses aside A well-worn leather strap grazes my leg swings by her side I press my spine against the back of the closet hold my breath my bottom still burns fire from Mother and Father yesterday  The gap disappears   clothes sag shoes stomp away door slams bedroom walls groan and shudder under seismic stress  my body shakes shock waves ripple 12  long after danger has passed  The room grows dark and still I crouch behind coats the closet door still slightly ajar afraid to move legs jittering breath held calming eyes staring thoughts melting afraid to break the silence to stir the air with my step or breath uncertain if wild animals still hunger for flesh  How could SHE be MY Mother?    June  Mother spends his money to dress me like a porcelain doll  Father sees and yells at Mother Mother yells at me “Do NOT cross the street Do NOT get dirty” Mother’s warning  I stand in the front yard on Mother’s grass looking I watch a robin splash in the small puddle in front of Mrs. Gow’s house I squint   step onto the road to see better my dress flutters my shoes tap 13  they have never seen   sunshine  it rained yesterday today the puddle is full of fresh water sunlight jumps and plays   on top tossing pieces of happiness  my way  Robin flaps her wings sunlight leaps into the air   sparkles  I step closer to see better to dip my shoes in so I can make sunshine dance  I copy Robin make big splashes with my feet I wonder how big the joy when I jump in with both shoes  Sunlight bounces up drenches me I smile from head to toe Mother does not  She marches over Hauls me away from Robin the puddle and all   my sunshine 14   Figure 2. Karen standing in the backyard of her Vancouver home. Circa 1964 [primary source].     August  Mother watches wrestling with Father Every Saturday Inside the house  Mother is angry Bulldog Brown is winning  Outside the air is cool The grass soft on bare toes Sister and I swing bare legs pump the air toes touching sky wind tickles rosy cheeks  Shoes stomp down   stairs Across concrete Grass   flattens my swing  halts Mother clamps her fingers around my arm Drags me behind her Across the lawn 15  Up the back stairs Through the kitchen into the bathroom  Television   Loud  Wrestling over Mother becomes Bulldog Brown  No  she is not my mother    September  I step around the back corner of the house duck under the overgrown laurel hedge to see Mother standing in the same spot she occupies every summer night at dusk--in her vegetable garden a narrow strip of soil on the south side of the house she reclaimed for herself  I catch my request in my throat not wanting to interrupt the stillness  that surrounds her She is quiet peaceful Her thumb pressed over the hose nozzle so water leaps out to quench her “thirsty tomato and zucchini plants” I hear her talking to her plants her face is soft  A mosquito buzzes lands on my bare arm I swing to slap it away  Mother startles   turns Her face washed   with anger “What are doing back here? Get inside right now” 16  I wish I was one of her tomatoes    October  I am playing in my room snipping scraps of fabric when Mother grabs me from behind by the scruff of the neck Mother drags me from my bedroom down the hallway to the bathroom Mother holds tight grips and twists my hair in her fist Hairs snap  Mother stops at the toilet bowl Lifts the lid Shoves my head inside the hollow something foul   grazes my cheek  Mother yanks my head   up fist locked around my ponytail twists my head pushes my face  down   again into gooey fabric my underwear I hid  in the laundry pile  How could she? be my Mother? ******** Mother wears a beehive wig that sits on the back of the toilet on a styrofoam head False teeth 17  sit on the counter by the cold water tap Every night they appear Every morning they are gone  Mother’s nails are long painted red   perfect her touch is not Mother’s lips are wide painted red   perfect her words are not  I want Mother  to hold me touch me talk to me kindly  Mother yells  “Not home” Mother locks herself away when I knock on her bedroom door  ********  I walk down to the basement hugging the rail step   by  step I descend stairs groan  in the laundry room I stretch up on tip toes lift one arm high fingers snag a string   I tug a naked light bulb stirs awake dusty cobwebs dimming its glow light spreads like sunshine in winter   cool   faded paints shadows on the walls  cobwebs cover the window thick like tattered torn curtains 18  electrical wiring threads a haphazard path along exposed two-by-fours a spider sails across the room on a filament I jump back another spider setting up home in the shadows  I step across the plywood floor buried beneath an avalanche of dirty clothes push my arm through clean sheets to press a button Dryer jolts begins to hum  I crawl inside the laundry basket wrap towels around me over me press my shoulder lean my head against metal I close my eyes Dryer’s steady hum soothes comforts  I am baby bird Big warm wings around me hold me close  You are my Mother  As long as I keep my eyes closed    ********  “He looked way, way up. He saw a big plane. ‘Here I am, Mother,’ he called out. But the plane did not stop. The plane went on” (Eastman, 1960, pp. 42-43).  “‘Oh, you are not my mother,’ said the baby bird. ‘You are a Snort. I have to get out of here!’” (Eastman, 1960, p. 48). “But the baby bird could not get away” (Eastman, 1960, p. 50). ******** 19  1965 Mary Poppins    “But Mary Poppins’s eyes were fixed upon him and Michael suddenly discovered that you could not look at Mary Poppins and disobey her. There was something strange and extraordinary about her--something that was frightening and at the same time most exciting” (Travers, 1981, p. 12).  “All day long Mary Poppins had been in a hurry, and when she was in a hurry she was always cross. Everything Jane did was bad, everything Michael did was worse. She even snapped at the Twins. Jane and Michael kept out of her way as much as possible, for they knew that there were times when it was better not to be seen or heard by Mary Poppins” (Travers, 1981, p. 151).  “So Mary Poppins put on her white gloves and tucked her umbrella under her arm...How could you leave your umbrella behind if it had a parrot’s head for a handle? Besides, Mary Poppins was very vain and liked to look her best” (Travers, 1981, p. 16).    February  Mother likes Mary Poppins I do not Mary Poppins scares me like Mother    April  I stretch back close my eyes grass is soft like duck feathers granny stuffs in her pillows blades of grass gentle against my neck tickle  Mother gives her grass medicine to make it grow tall   healthy I wish   Mother had medicine to help me grow  tall   healthy  I squint up at the sky whipping cream clouds change shape before my eyes 20  like a flag tossed in the wind a breeze brushes my cheeks caresses  my jaw and chest muscles   sigh unfurl trusting like sea anemone tentacles   dancing in the ebb and flow  of still waters  pink blossoms cover our tree burst open like popcorn wind tugs at their stems teases  blossom petals drift sleepy onto the lawn flakes of snow I stretch flap arms and legs wide my springtime snow angel    ********  I sit on the living room couch Mother glares  “Put your legs together You can see  right up your panties” I squeeze my legs together They split apart like ‘Pick Up Sticks’  Mother barks  “You  are going to put me in a clinic”  I wish for an umbrella like Mary Poppins to fly  above rooftops  away  from here to where blossom trees always bloom and wind warm always tickles my cheeks 21  May  Sister sits outside Father’s door I sit beside her Sister cries Father opens his door lifts her inside Shuts the door  I wait cheeks wet eyes swollen Sister’s giggles trickle under the door burn like candle wax  I cry Mother steps over me  opens the door Leans inside “Why? Why won’t you let Karen in?”  Father is studying Mother closes the door Steps over me disappears down the hall  I wish   I had a Mary Poppins umbrella    June  I peer from the hallway careful not to be seen  I see Mother inside her closet Shoes of every colour lined in a row like crayons in a box Clothes on hangers   squeezed tight like me this morning Under my metal bed hiding 22   Mother’s suitcase sits on her bed   Open   Empty  Mother stares surrounded   by  Gloves Stockings Scarves  Hats Coats Boots Shoes Shirts Skirts Dresses  Mary Poppins’ bag would fit every Thing Mother loves  Clothes Shoes Boots Furs Plants Cats Hairspray Nail polish Kitchen table Bathroom towels Leather strap    ******** 23  Mother leaves today for five days Mother never goes away  or visits   anyone no one visits her Mother has no   people friends only  plant friends I watch Mother drizzle pink water onto their roots when Father is not home Mother whispers words I cannot hear  Who will water them when she is away? Not Father   He hates her plants  Grumbles  at clay pots that sit shoulder to shoulder on the window ledge branches and green leaves gazing out the windows of his study  I hope the plant with the tiny orange lanterns will be okay I will talk to it from the hallway where Father cannot hear  ********  Mother has to have an operation to fix her hearing Mother is like Mary Poppins She leaves without saying good bye    ********  Five o’clock Time for dinner Father feeds us Mother’s meatloaf 24  Father drops a thick slice onto my plate Shakes a Heinz bottle Ketchup spills out painting my meatloaf red  Father forgets to say  “Eat and shut up” like Mother does  Still no one talks forks and knives clang Sister   Brother   Father eat I stare  at meatloaf   on my fork cold colourless I nibble chew swallow meatloaf stops in my throat refusing to go down minced meatloaf spills onto my plate Father glares the strap hangs nearby  Plates empty  Father nods  at Brother   Sister chairs scrape I poke meatloaf stuck to my fork  clock’s long metal spokes   click fridge clunks settles down for the night  I need to pee Father nods  In the bathroom I unclench my fist “plop” goes meatloaf mush “flush” goes the toilet I return to the kitchen show Father my plate  Free to scoot to the bathroom to pee again this time for real    ******** 25   Mother returns home a steel rod inside one ear Mother snaps  “Everything is too loud” Mother shouts  “You’re cruisin’ for a bruisin’”  Her leather strap sits on the kitchen counter still warm from earlier I wait for Mother to turn around so I can melt away    July  My stomach hurts all the time like I swallowed rocks from Mother’s garden My chest hurts all the time like I am buried beneath broken concrete  The doctor scribbles words onto white paper Mother walks next door a man in a white coat sells Mother another bottle of medicine  ********  Mother holds my mouth open exposes my teeth speckled black and grey and white like a Dalmatian  The doctor scribbles another note Mother buys more medicine Shovels a spoonful down my throat  I do not remind Mother 26  that Mary Poppins adds sweetness to help her medicine go down    October  Mother lines us up in the hallway Measures us one at a time Mother presses a book on top of my head heavy like a brick “Stand taller”  Mother darkens my ‘old’ pencil mark Sister gets a new pencil line that sits above mine  ********  Mother marches in points at me “She hasn’t grown in two years All her teeth are rotting” I stare up  at Mother startled  Mother glares at the doctor “No more medicine” Mother grabs my hand Marches away yanking me behind her Outside  Mother lets go   walks away “Hurry up” I run to catch up  ********  A new boy moves in across the street he throws rocks at birds and animals today he hurls a stone that smashes dyeing my hair red a bump 27  the size of a lemon erupts on the back of my head  Mother marches across the front lawn shakes the bloody stone in the new boy’s face hammers him with words  I hover behind Mother not needing to fly away Not  today  ********  Mother boils a bag of herbs in a pot on the stove I drink the hot mixture  everyday my rumbly chest   quietens  Mother places the humidifier in a box downstairs I begin to grow again like some of the flowers in Mother’s garden      Figure 3. Karen in Mary Poppins costume. Circa 1965 [primary source]. 28  ********    “Mary Poppins sighed with pleasure, however, when she saw three of herself, each wearing a blue coat with silver buttons and a blue hat to match. She thought it was such a lovely sight that she wished there had been a dozen of her or even thirty. The more Mary Poppins the better” (Travers, 1981, p. 30).  “From the carpet bag she took out seven flannel nightgowns, four cotton ones, a pair of boots, a set of dominoes, two bathing-caps and a postcard album. Last of all came a folding camp- bedstead with blankets and eiderdown complete....” (Travers, 1981, p 13).     ******** 29  1966 Where the Wild Things Are    “The night Max wore his wolf suit and made mischief of one kind and another his mother called him ‘WILD THING!’and Max said ‘I’LL EAT YOU UP!’ so he was sent to bed without eating anything” (Sendak, 1991).    Mother parks the Chevrolet Impala in the parking lot at Stongs Mother shops for food Brother and I walk across the street to the Dunbar Library     Figure 4. Dunbar Branch of Vancouver Public Library exterior. 1950. Vancouver, British Columbia. Dunbar Branch Library [Online Image]. Retrieved April 7, 2014 from prints_of_historical_photographs. Public domain. VPL Accession Number 8857.    I stop in the children’s section books with beautiful pictures stand proud tall   on the ledge their covers wave   “Pick me Pick me” I lift one  two   three books into my arms scan shelves  for more stories that call to me 30  with colour and characters with big words I cannot read yet  I drop cross-legged onto the floor a little boy in a cat costume grins up from the page green trees grow in his bedroom  M-a-x Max in a boat on the ocean sails away  Monsters with sharp teeth jump off the page claw at me I slam the book shut chest pounding  Stuff the book   back onto the shelf where monsters cannot find   me     Figure 5. Dunbar Branch of Vancouver Public Library interior. Dominion Photo Co. 1950. Vancouver, British Columbia. Dunbar Branch Library [Online Image]. Retrieved April 7, 2014 from Public domain. VPL Accession Number 9988. 31  S-ee K-a-r-e-n R-r-e-e-a-d S-ee D-i-ck r-u-n S-ee J-a-ne r-u-n S-ee S-p-o-t r-u-n  See Karen r-r-r-un down the hall See Karen le-e-e-a-p onto her bed See Karen sh-sh-a-a-k-k-k-e because Monsters growl and gnash  their teeth  See Karen read See Dick hit See Jane hit See Spot cry ******** Monsters growl under my bed howl at my face  Monsters grab at my head mash at my back  Monsters wake me at night  Mother growls at Father Monsters live at my house  ******** 32  Where the Wild Things REALLY Are  She skips and flutters down the hall smiling at sunbeams  Wild things roam grab her arm dig sharp claws smack turning pink skin black and blue  Monsters growl bedroom walls quake bending low biting deep fairy wings crumple  Hidden in a hedge eyes closed she huddles drifts away a sunlit room pillowy softness  Hunger   pinches her belly cold earth   penetrates her socks darkness   dissolves her dream  She creeps across the lawn tiptoes   upstairs scanning   searching  wild things asleep till tomorrow   ********  “And Max said, ‘No!’ The wild things roared their terrible roars and gnashed their terrible teeth and rolled their terrible eyes and showed their terrible claws but Max stepped into his private boat and waved good-bye” (Sendak, 1991).  ******** 33  1967 Pippi Longstocking    “Way out at the end of a tiny little town was an old overgrown garden and in the garden was an old house, and in the house lived Pippi Longstocking. She was nine years old, and she lived there all alone. She had no mother and no father...there was no one to tell her to go to bed just when she was having the most fun, and no one who could make her take cod liver oil when she much preferred caramel candy” (Lindgren, 2005, p. 12).    “‘Oh, isn’t it glorious to be alive!’ said Pippi, stretching out her legs as far as they could reach” (Lindgren, 2005, p. 39).    “‘You see, I am really very shy, so if I didn’t give myself some commands I’d just stand in the hall and not dare to come in’” (Lindgren, 2005, p. 120).    January    “Grade 2’s go to your spots Time for handwriting practice” Teacher stands   Tall   Waiting I step to the side blackboard clutch a chalk stick stare straight ahead Boy stands beside me bends my way whispers   “Karen” my eyes follow his fingers perched above  his head pressed against the board Boy  grins I hunch squeezing eyelids pressing palms   against my ears  Boy drags fingernails   down   slow a screech ripples across   drills deep into my head rips up   and down my spine like a knife stripping protective plastic  off wire 34  Boy  giggles no one notices   but me Boy plants his nails begins again his smile grows   wide I shake my head   “No” Another   long  slow scratch overwhelms    I wish  I  could make him stop could pick him up like Pippi walk outside hang him over a high branch in the huge Maple tree that stares down at the school “What an unkind thing to do to the smallest girl in class” I would glare “Never   do that again”  I want to make Boy stop and Father stop and Mother   stop  But I am Annika   Much afraid I say nothing do nothing am silent so suffering does not stop pain does not go away     March  “...Amen”  Sister and I say “Now go to sleep”  Mother says Her feet march   down the hallway around the corner   out of sight door ajar  hall light beams across my face   like sunshine warms   comforts   assures  Sister punches her pillow with her head up and down   again and again 35  punches like Father  hitting nails into wood  Eyes wide Open  Alert a sentinel  watching listening waiting a cat growls   another cat shrieks two cats tear at each other trees groan   beaten by the wind a cupboard slams   in the kitchen television mumbles   in the living room Sister is quiet now  and still  I pull my legs   closer hug my pillow   harder tug my blanket   tighter   over my head a bubble of breath   hidden   warming  Nighttime noises   startle Nighttime noises   frighten scared to be lost in nighttime forever  ********  My shoes scuff against pavement legs heavy like sacks of potatoes stored in the pantry  downstairs grey tights  eyelids sag  cool air scurries across my cheeks pinches them pink billowy clouds exhale flapping my pigtails fingers wiggle   inside mitts Up the hill   across Marine Drive One potato  two potato   three potato four long blocks I step up to John King’s door five  six   seven potato more Another steep hill before we arrive at our schoolroom door  ******** 36   Elbows rest on my desk head sinks into my arms soft like a pillow Teacher’s voice marches forward   steady my mind drifts   to birds   bobbing on a branch outside green leaves applaud their song call me to join them one robin jumps free sails through the air is gone “Karen?   Your turn to read”  ********  Teacher reads a story about a magic carpet I close my eyes words drift  over me under me inside me a carpet   small   fringed floats   above streets thick with people  cars   animals spices   and sounds high above the city I fly with birds   on waves of wind  Teacher snaps her book shut Eyes   Open   Startled back in my desk with a bang my magic carpet ride popped   like a bubble in bathwater  Shoulder to shoulder in the cloakroom   coats zip I head home with Monte legs flop like jello onto the sidewalk tired   we cross the street endless blocks stretch before us our street a distant dot  Leaves   strong  thick  shiny like the hedge leaves outside my bedroom window I pick a handful drop them onto the sidewalk 37  “These will work”  I smile one shoe on top of each I hold Monte’s hand in mine determined “imagine a magic carpet” hopeful   we squeeze  eyelids   fingers I fly  floating  free  a car engine  noise spoils   our magic   vanishes  Green leaves peek out from under shoes sidewalk all around same spot   no closer to home heads dip low hands let go feet step forward heavy  like wading through thick mud  no magic no carpet no ride home  ********  Today Mother sits on a picnic blanket legs stiff   fancy shoes pointed straight ahead other ladies sit nearby  chatting  Edie Barter charges by Brother   Sister   and I jump up join other children running scrambling  swarming to touch his Pied Piper candy covered coat  handfuls of penny candy tossed high sweet confetti blowing in the wind spills from the sky  Laughter   Sunshine  Sweetness 38  speckle a grassy field I crouch   pick up Mojos my favourite  Races over  tummy rumbling barbecue salmon roasting corn on the cob sizzling Mother says “Time to go” “But I’m having fun”  Mother drives along Marine I unwrap another Mojo chew sweet   white toffee  Mother says church ladies act superior stick their noses in the air Mother says no more Sunday School picnics ******** I shiver downstairs in the basement the furnace blasts out   heat  I lean in rest my cheek on cool white stillness my bedroom wall   solid  I exhale   a balloon letting go Mother’s rage drains away  my head stops   spinning my body stops   shaking my world stops  collapsing    May  Mother unscrews my training wheels holds my bike seat I climb on   clench handlebars “Don’t let go” I beg 39  I stretch toes to reach pedals   push  handlebars zig zag twisting sideways I squeeze tighter   knuckles whiten  My bike bounces up and down picks up speed past Sidney’s house past my house bike wheels halt  I turn to see Mother’s hands at her side “You didn’t hold on” “No”  Mother says “I rode all on my own?” Mother nods I look for a smile but Mother is already walking up the street    September   Father builds a Go Cart four wheels  a plank   a rope I watch   hoping Father builds only one for Brother  Mother snaps   “What do You want a cart for?” I hope  Brother gives me a ride      Figure 6. Vancouver childhood home. Circa 1973 [primary source]. 40   I sit behind Brother holding tight hair jumping around my face  my bum bounces up bumps down we whiz past our house wheels stop turning we hop off   run up the street for another ride down  Joel hops on Brother and Joel whiz down the street   laugh I stand   watch   hope Brother gives me another turn   soon  Father would build me a cart with a rope to squeeze  tight to steer over bumps and dips in the road to hold for the run uphill for another ride down if   I was a   boy oh boy    December  winter  school is closed for Christmas out my bedroom window slate skies   grey rooftops iced with creamy quietness gutters hung  with icicles  hot oatmeal  brown sugar  milk Mother fills our empty bowls Father sits at the table  no one talks  Mother serves bacon   fried eggs   toast no one smiles   I am careful not to look at Sister sitting across the table I stare at my food  my feet stick out   I try 41  to keep them close Sister kicks me hard I groan   soft Father’s eyes flash yells   points exiles me   to my bedroom  Father enters Sister slips in   smiling sits on her bed Father stands over me eyes  burning like a hot iron on fabric I step back Father steps closer points his finger between my eyes fire blazes from his fingertips I freeze stiff still as a statue arms pressed at my side  Father yells   a long time Mother calls it   the Third Degree I blink Father explodes   yells to look at him when he talks my eyes widen stare straight ahead his finger shakes a slug wiggling in my face Father pulls down my pants orders me to bend over I hold my breath his hand hits high   on my back Father swings again and  again  Father walks out I pull up my panties Sister’s grin grows wider like a Cheshire Cat  I limp to my bed my back and bum throbbing where it hurts to sit to walk to run 42  no  where to run to  Mother says  “I will report you if you hit her again” Father hits me   again Mother never calls    ********  I love snow   the soft breezy kind  the crunch beneath your boots kind the roll it into a snowman swish it into an angel kind the stick to woolen mittens press it into an igloo kind   sweaters and tights pants and coat hat and scarf too much clothing  I move stiffly  like a robot careful on icy porch  I look up   flakes floating melting on my tongue I snap an icicle  licking slurping nature’s popsicle  Snow piled high my boots sink in disappear Brother and I push snow   aside trudge to the front yard snow covers every driveway up Highbury  Brother has a plan in the basement   he chooses one shovel I lift the other  heavy  awkward I follow  dragging it behind me Brother digs   scoops   tosses I push my shovel   as fast and steady and hard as Brother I feel strong  like Pippi 43   We shovel a long driveway to a cottage two old sisters   smile    they can drive their car We smile our pockets full of money  I walk beside Brother   steps strong my shovel trailing       sliding over snow  we stomp on the mat  snow tumbles from boots beaming I step into the kitchen Mother frowns “No more shoveling snow  for you You will strain yourself”  Her words dampen  melt away strength Vacuum up my happiness  Mother spoons out bowls of steaming Campbell’s Tomato Soup with “cheese grilled” sandwiches   I slump in my chair like a balloon without air  deflated  Brother leaves    to shovel more driveways   I sit   scared   to strain   myself  ********  Brother drops the needle onto the record in the living room a Christmas tune spins ‘round “He knows if you’ve been bad or good so  be good for goodness sake” I bury fingertips into my ears hum to block out words that burn a hole allow fear inside  I ask God “please help me  be good 44  so Mother won’t hit me so Father won’t hit me so Santa won’t give me coal so some one will love me Amen”  ********  If Santa Claus gives Pippi a lump of coal I hear Pippi say “Thanks   Santa!” and ‘see’ her build a fire to roast marshmallows  ********   45    “With trembling legs Annika climbed up in the tree again, and Pippi helped her with the last hard bit. She drew back a little when she saw how dark it was in the tree trunk, but Pippi held her hand and kept encouraging her” (Lindgren, 2005, p. 73).      “But the policemen were certainly tricky, because the minute they were down on the ground again they pounced on Pippi and cried, ‘Now you’ll get it, you little brat!’  ‘Oh, no, I’m sorry. I haven’t time to play any longer,’ said Pippi. ‘But it was fun.’ Then she took hold of the policemen by their belts and carried them down the garden path, out through the gate, and onto the street. There she set them down...‘Wait a minute,’ she cried and ran into the kitchen and came back with two cookie hearts. ‘Would you like a taste?’ she asked” (Lindgren, 2005, p. 44).      “Now [Pippi] took a bath brush that hung on the wall and began to beat the pancake batter so hard that it splashed all over the walls” (Lindgren, 2005, p. 22).      “‘I don’t think you have a very nice way with ladies,’ said Pippi. And she lifted him in her strong arms--high in the air--and carried him to a birch tree and hung him over a branch. Then she took the next boy and hung him over another branch...and the next she threw right over a fence so that he landed in a flower bed...The boys were absolutely speechless with fright...  ‘Is there anything else you have to say about my hair or my shoes? If so, you’d better say it now before I go home.’ But Bengt had nothing more to say about Pippi’s shoes or about her hair either” (Lindgren, 2005, p. 33).    ********  46  1968 Oliver Twist    “Child as he was, he was desperate with hunger, and reckless with misery. He rose from the table; and advancing to the master, basin and spoon in hand, said, somewhat alarmed by his own temerity,--‘Please, sir, I want some more’” (Dickens, 2009, p. 23).  “...and crouching in the corner, [he] tried to sleep; ever and anon waking with a start and tremble, and drawing himself closer and closer to the wall, as if to feel even its cold hard surface were a protection in the gloom and loneliness which surrounded him” (Dickens, 2009, p. 26).    January  Today my eighth birthday Mother gives me a new top I rub  blue fabric  hold it close Mother says, “Go   put it on”  My bedroom one big room  two beds identical bedspreads Sister sleeps   beside the closet I sleep near the door  I open the door Sister sits cross-legged   on her bed wears a new top   grins  I stare  plop onto my bed my top  limp on my lap Mother walks in “I don’t play favourites”  I drop my head   blink quickly identical new tops Sister’s   red mine  blue  Mother says “Your sister will cry” Mother does not notice me crying  ********* 47  Grey clouds squeeze buckets of water all over my birthday party  I step into the kitchen dressed   hair brushed Mother walks by Stops Spits on her finger Reaches for my face  I scrunch my nose collapse my head toward my shoulder like tulip petals when darkness rolls in  Mother’s fingernails scratch a path across my forehead Her finger leaves a trail of spit like slug slime  “Hold still” a needle sharp prick stings my scalp  “Got it”  Mother holds a blonde hair that strayed Where is love? ********  Children knock at the front door rubber boots  drip onto Fir floors damp coats   drop onto Mother’s bed Girls in party dresses   cluster around Mother’s dining room table   Polished  Shiny wiped clean of dust 48  this morning  Girls pull elastic around chins anchoring party hats my hat tips sideways I pull   too hard a thin elastic snaps smacks my neck  Sister sucks in a big breath exhales   air bumps out choppy  like a truck motor Everyone laughs  Sister Inhales Exhales Again Again I wish Sister would Stop  Mother holds a birthday cake from Stong’s bakery fancy cursive “Happy Birthday  Karen” candles burn everyone sings my heart fills up  Father holds his camera Mother says   “Make a wish   Smile”  flash does not work   Father fumbles grumbles   Everyone waits holding smiles “Your camera never works on her birthday”  Mother snaps candles melt   drip wax  “Blow out your candles”   Mother says I forget to wish  presents from friends on the carpet more presents from Mother on the coffee table piled high wrapping paper  ribbons 49  litter carpet  Children button coats tug rubber boots I slip into my room a mountain of presents on Sister’s bed  Every gift from Mother has a twin  sitting on Sister’s bed  grey clouds dump another bucket I run for the front door     Figure 7. Karen’s eighth birthday party. 1968 [primary source].     Kids climb into cars windshield wipers wack rainwater aside Mother clutches the steering wheel leans forward drives to the Dunbar Theatre my friends chatter   giggle Mother does not shout  “Shut up” 50  Mother buys tickets I melt into my seat lights go out excitement expands fills me to bursting like Jiffy Popcorn warmed on the stove  I forget Sister wears a twin top I forget that buckets of rain fell today  because Oliver Twist came to my birthday party    February  Saturday morning cartoons  cross-legged on the carpet  Mother turns the knob “One cartoon  no more”  Screen jumps into action Popeye and Sindbad the Sailor Brother’s choice Again  Popeye punches Sindbad Olive Oyl cheers  ********  Saturday morning  Errands Mother parks in the lot beside the Scotia Bank steps out slams car door Brother   Sister  me like three ducklings trail behind Mother to the Dunbar Bakery  Screen door springs open bounces shut 51  wooden door swings wide warm   sweet  smell welcomes  Baker lady smiles a “glad to see you” smile reaches across the counter offers us each   a cookie that melts sweetness onto my tongue  I watch big fat loaves of bread slice and shuffle thin like cards a red twist tie on top says “stop” to tumbling slices Fresh baked bread exhales inside clear plastic bags like warm breath on my bedroom window in winter  Back in the back seat with Sister Brother beside Mother “You can have  one slice each” Brother grabs first picks the crust my favourite Sister digs down deep pulls out the other crust  Bread tossed toward me I pick a slice press warm against my cheek inhale fresh   white  softness happiness sweeps through me like sweet cherry filling into an empty pie crust  a hand brushes my shoulder grabs the open bag eyes open  I take a bite  chew 52  stare  out the window  back in the backseat of our Chevrolet driving down Dunbar   home  ********  I like my hair short   sassy Easy to wash  quick to brush no tangles  Mother likes my hair long  to my waist Easy to grab   quick to knot when she is angry    March  Mother stands   stirs oatmeal bubbling in a pot Father sits reads a newspaper covering his face  Mother stands   spoons hot oatmeal into bowls Brother sits   waiting  Mother stands   walks hot bowls to the table Sister sits swings her legs looking for mine  Mother stands   butters toast Flips eggs   bacon grease crackles  Mother stands   pours coffee for Father orange juice for Brother   Sister me  Father sits   hidden behind a newspaper spread wide 53  wings of an eagle hunting  ready to pounce  Mother stands   slices beef makes sandwiches for lunch at breakfast  Father sits newspaper wings rustling Father  speaks I stop chewing  freeze Father  shouts He wants a spoon for his coffee  Mother drops her knife wipes her hands on her apron steps across the kitchen picks up a spoon from the drawer places it beside Father Father keeps reading No  thank you    May  Food   gone Brother   Sister shovel breakfast into their mouths cheeks ballooning Mother smacks blackberry jam onto burnt toast the way Father likes it  I mumble  “I didn’t get any bacon” Mother turns   knife poised “Well  the early bird gets the best crop” my jaw opens   slams shut  I plop onto my chair Mother drops a plate of toast onto the table bodies lunge  hands grab platter empties   scoured 54  by vultures  I take a piece eat silent  last in the bathroom last to the table again God says the last shall be first Mother says the first are the best the last forgotten  Where is   love?  ********  I slip out of bed scurry to the window pull open curtains cold air swirls around my ankles a grey sky hangs heavy sinks low seeps melancholy inside  through window and door seams  In the kitchen Father  sits lips thin white paper Mother  stands   lips painted red Mother scrapes butter across the sandwich bread each slice sinks yielding to the pressure of her knife  ********  Heidi’s mother sings her words melting like molasses in warm milk like honey on toast Mother shouts Her speech spreading like sewer water that overflows our basement   in winter Mother’s talk floods every room of our small house 55   ********  Mother shouts   louder “Why can’t your brother or sisters take Him?” Father shakes his head “You haven’t seen Him in over  25 years”  Father pulled the shortest straw  ********  Father reads his paper  like always no one talks Grandfather sits   stirring his coffee round and round spinning his spoon banging his cup  Father’s hands tighten choke paper edges  Round and round spoon clangs Round and round swirling milk   sinks into blackness  Newspaper crumples Father slams his fist cups jump   cutlery rattles my eyes widen Grandfather stirs Round and round a resounding clang  Father’s face grows hotter kettle boils on the stove coffee brews toast burns  the way Father likes it  Steam rises   Grandfather lifts holds his cup   between both hands 56  Slurps  raspy like a straw sucking up last drops of juice  Father stands   peers down Grandfather slurps another mouthful coffee hangs on his mustache like tinsel on a Christmas tree  Father shakes his fist in Grandfather’s face I tremble as if Father yells at me  Grandfather stares at Father “Where am I  dear?” Father yells  louder Thrashes his fist faster Father wants him to stop I want Father to stop Grandfather shrugs “I don’t hear you dear”  Father’s anger  splits open splattering like a can of paint dropped from the ceiling sticking like tar  Father walks away Slams the door His words hover like smoke from a fire blackening  beautiful fingers of sunshine waking up in our kitchen  I sit trembling like jello  No one wants Grandfather  ******** 57  Grandfather sits in Father’s chair folds brown sugar into porridge stirs   round and round chews   mouth wide open  “Shut your mouth”  Mother says Grandfather lifts his head “The war   I cannot hear you  dear”  Mother walks around the table “Don’t stuff   so much cotton in your ears”  Mother picks up his bowl Grabs his arm Shoves Grandfather downstairs   to his room Slams his door  Mother stomps upstairs Mutters  “Grandfather Bad manners”  Grandfather chews his mouth wide open Alone Downstairs  Upstairs I keep my mouth shut Where is love? ********  Grandfather lives downstairs Out of the way Safe  from Mother’s anger  I huddle upstairs out of the way against an armchair focused  fingers stitching a dress for my doll 58  Broom closet door smacks the wall I jump   drop my needle panic rips through my chest “Where to hide?”  I whip open front closet Sister huddles   beneath coats on top of boots glares no space for two Sister pulls door closed  my heart pounds I turn to escape down the hallway freeze Mother steps around the corner Looms overhead Grabs my ponytail my neck twists   cranks forward Mother flares   arm swings   Strikes Leather slices across my neck Batters my back  Mother’s fire simmers like the stove turned low till another spark   blazes like a match tossed into a forest  Mother strides away strap trailing behind limp   worn out   shiny with my oils  I rub my neck   my hands tingle face feels numb back burns like my doll must feel when I pop off her head to empty her of bath water  ********  I stare at the bathroom door unlocked 59  slightly ajar the way Mother likes it  Footsteps in the hall bathroom door swings open Mother marches in I fold scrunching small tights in a pile at my feet  Mother admires   herself in the mirror adjusts her wig rifles through a drawer sprays her hair a mist descends sticks  Sim walks in jumps onto the counter Mother strokes his back fur dander explode into the air  Mother runs tap water fills his glass Sim slurps greedily Mother purrs “Thirsty boy aren’t you” Her voice sweet like too much icing  Mother flips off the light walks out forgets I sit on the toilet in darkness  I stand  stiff shake tingling legs to wake them up Sim grooms himself leg high in the air licking private parts on the counter  I wash my hands   exit   fast before someone else walks in 60  ********  Mother sits in her spot at the kitchen table face painted   wig sprayed dressed eyes smoldering like wet autumn leaves Mother stands tugs her mini skirt twists her Go-Go belt “Eat and shut up”  my stomach lurches throat tightens I stare down at my bowl tears pool   wrestle free plop into milk ripple like waves to shore Where is love? ********  Mother turns her key presses a button I watch the car roof collapse like an accordion I shade my eyes Mother ties a scarf to protect her towering curls unfolds sunglasses   wide white rims big as tea saucers Mother spins the steering wheel drives Sister and I to school  Wind grabs Mother’s scarf teases   like a kite tail fluttering  provoking I stretch my arm out to touch the wind “Get your hands inside   now a car will chop them off”  Mother stops the car by the front door 61  steps out one shiny white Go-Go boot at a time a five foot two Barbie  chin tipped high struts inside Sister holds her hand   beams I shrink  pretend I am invisible that I belong to someone else’s family that She is not my Mother  ********  Mother finds me hiding under   Father’s desk   last week in the front closet yesterday under my bed today  Mother grabs my arm wrenches my feet slide across the floor polished slippery like ice Mother drags me to my feet pain sears my shoulder  Mother’s other hand swings wild Leather hits my neck   stings hits my back  burns Mother shoves me away I spill to the ground “No one will ever love you” Her words bite like swarms of wasps I wither like springtime blossoms deprived of rain   bitten by frost  My lips tremble eyes water   Mother sneers “Toughen up” she snorts  Where is love?  ******** 62  Mother grabs a clump of my hair close to the scalp hairs tighten like strings on a violin wound too tight screech snap in terror  Mother twists tighter another rotation more hairs scream in protest ******** Grandfather sits reading the newspaper at the kitchen table a narrow channel from chair to fridge tummy sucked in pencil thin I tiptoe   quietly  quickly a hand darts out grasps like jaws of a hunter’s trap  I pull away Grandfather squeezes tighter my wrist begins to throb “Let go”   I plead Grandfather grins trapped my wrist groaning I cry out Mother hears Stomps into the kitchen Smacks   Grandfather releases his hold “Stay away from him” Mother walks away Where is love? ********  My tongue touches empty space where my front tooth sat a steep angled point replaces rolling ridges 63   I press my right shoulder against the car door gaze out the window tears drown my vision   flood my cheeks my breath steams the glass  Mother parks the car “Remember what I told you or   you will Really have something  to cry about”  Mother strides ahead nose tipped to the ceiling Queen of Sheba I follow head hung low  the dentist swivels his chair “What happened here?” Mother hovers Glares at me Her lips pursed Her eyes pressing  My voice stuck  captive “She fell down   basement stairs” Mother answers I want to jump up  scream nothing comes out  Mother stays   talks to the dentist I lay in the chair   fighting back tears seething with anger wanting to speak the truth what Really happened  Dentist decides to leave my tooth broken cap it when I am older Mother says  No  Dentist holds a drill  that roars drowning out my screams locked inside a strange smelling powder   fills the air Drill stops 64  Mother leans over I shut my eyes “A little more on the left side”  More grinding  more powder drifts into the air   tears trickle puddle in my ears  Mother says  “That will do” Dentist holds a mirror My beautiful front tooth My new grown-up tooth reduced  shortened   flattened  Mother bolts ahead to her car never says “sorry” for losing her temper for smacking my face with her ring finger  Where is love?  ********  I practice over and over not   baton twirls not   Math addition tables I practice for perfection for protection  I race to the front door grip brass knob twist left slide golden chain to freedom legs braced I heave  muster force door slowly drags over shaggy red carpet I swing around squeeze through narrow opening my escape route to the front yard away from the strap away from Mother 65    away from Father  ********  I jump over the rock wall  onto dirt squeeze behind the woodpile to hang out with spiders until Mother calms forgets she is mad at me  Sun drops behind trees I huddle   cold   shivering soggy  muddy  stocking feet tears dried on cheeks hugging knees together head resting  eyes closed listening  Musical notes sweet soft   drift my way like dandelion seeds blown by wind  First one note then another wanders over a neighbour’s hedge creating a symphony of sound a salve salvaging  I burrow in sheltered by firewood close my eyes I am sitting  next to Jennifer on her piano bench feet dangling over the edge her fingers touching  tapping clean white keys  Sound rises up  hugs me delicious   like blackberry jam piano music  washes over  me cleanses away my sadness  I want to make music 66  with my fingertips I want to make sweet berry jam  ********  I open my eyes above an indigo sky a star shimmers next door   someone plays piano I could be learning to make music  inside Mother  Father yell   hit   make war “Another day shot” Mother moans  outside  hiding another precious day lost  ********  Mother cuts meat   for dinner I stand at the far end holding onto the counter  “Mother  may I” I falter “Speak up” I wiggle my toes   “I want to play  piano” “No money” Mother’s knife blade knocks the cutting board “Brother   has lessons” I say staring at the floor “He asked first he’s a boy” Brother has a guitar   electric with a big black box an amp   that screams when he touches a string  ******** 67  Mother hands me the dish cloth “Girls wash dishes   Not boys”  Brother sits  watches me scrub dinner dishes   smirks  Sister sprays cold water making them harder to dry with my dishcloth Where is love? ********  I lean across the bathroom sink stare into the mirror at my reflection I whisper  “you are loved” over and over  and over again and again  I exhale look myself in the eye “You are loved” till I almost believe it  ********    “He had listened to their taunts with a look of contempt; he had borne the lash without a cry: for he felt that pride swelling in his heart which would have kept down a shriek to the last, though they had roasted him alive. But now, when there were none to see or hear him, he fell upon his knees on the floor, and, hiding his face in his hands, wept such tears as, God send for the credit of our nature, few so young may ever have cause to pour out before Him!” (Dickens, 2009, pp. 60-61).    “The blessing was from a young child’s lips, but it was the first that Oliver had ever heard invoked upon his head; and through all the struggles and sufferings, and troubles and changes, of his after life, he never once forgot it” (Dickens, 2009, p. 62).    ******** 68  1969 Blind Men     “It was six men of Indostan To learning much inclined, Who went to see the Elephant (Though all of them were blind), That each by observation Might satisfy his mind  The First approached the Elephant, And happening to fall Against his broad and sturdy side, At once began to bawl: “God bless me! but the Elephant Is very like a wall!” (Saxe, n.d.).   September  My new teacher is different from my other teachers She has the name of a bird that visits my backyard in winter a little bird that flew by when God was eating spreading raspberry jam on little bird’s tummy instead of toast turning brown feathers bright pink forever  Miss Finch Miss Raspberry Finch     November  Snowflakes the size of quarters tumble from heaven   sticking painting my street serene coating colourful clothing tickling noses  chilling cheeks 69  wind blows   snowflakes frolic teasing me   calling me to play  Monte throws handfuls of snow showering my face fragments of light   tiny shards   prickle pinching my cheeks pink Monte runs ahead “Catch me if you can”  I follow  his footprints leading  to school cars move like caterpillars tires crunch to a halt drivers peek out of snuggly cocoons  Icicles hang from window ledges like jagged teeth school door opens flakes of snow rush to greet us boots stomp mitts caked in snow scarf warm with wet breath frosty eyelashes cold feet  Teacher stands in the hallway “Girls   straight to the washroom” “Boys  to class” my smile fades Monte looks at me  “See you after school”  Principal’s voice blasts down the hallway reminding  Girls no pants at school  Washroom packed girls  pulling off pants tugging on skirts I change drop   warm comfy pants yank   scratchy droopy tights  Pants   like my birthday only once a year 70  when it snows   heavy ******** Miss Finch Miss Raspberry Finch flies to the classroom door sweeps it open “Good morning, children” students file past her  Her smile flows over me like warm sunshine follows me   to the cloakroom like a beam of light I patter to my desk “Good morning  Karen”   Miss Finch chirps I shuffle past   her  voice singing gladness into my heart melting winter away inside Miss Raspberry Finch’s classroom my woolen tights are not so scratchy  ********  Miss Finch drags our desks   around the room poker straight rows and lines disappear She pushes and pulls dragging desks like giant Lego pieces building  clustering I sit across from Glen   who winks beside Graham   who makes me laugh  Miss Finch sings “Christopher Columbus sailed the ocean blue  in 1492” I remember history dates because Miss Finch turns them into song  My Socials group works in the hallway “I trust you”  Miss Finch smiles we unroll our paper onto the floor I lay on my tummy  swing legs in the air colour my bubble letters joyful 71  ********  I draw pictures of the Bealies my imaginary family Papa Bealie Mama Bealie Brother Bealie Baby Bealie Me in the middle oval heads wide smiles kindness  grin from the paper     Figure 8. Karen posing in her new pink dress. Circa 1969 [primary source].    Miss Finch reads us a story about an elephant  and men who cannot see blind men yell I am right like Mother  Miss Finch   her story splashes me with possibility pushes me outside Mother’s box no one  is better   than another no   one  right way I now see different ways 72  to hang Mother’s dishcloth  but I keep draping it   her way for now    March  Easter morning a box with a cellophane lid my own milk chocolate Easter egg decorated with coloured icing KAREN  in big white letters flows across the middle Stong’s bakery makes my name beautiful  my chocolate egg fills both hands like a softball the shell cracks like ice when I carefully poke the back I snap off a small piece pop it inside my mouth   tongue tossing it around till it melts into creamy sweetness I stow my Easter egg under my bed hidden   safe each day I nibble  savour Sister and Brother gobble theirs discover my hiding place devour mine    May  Dawn’s mother invites me in I sit at her kitchen table splashed in sunshine She pours me a glass of orange juice Smiles   when I take a sip Smiles   when I jump in the air clapping my hands overhead “Tah wit tah woo   fifteen cents”  I say dropping coins by  a spotted owl on  a spotted mushroom Dawn’s mother my Brownie leader 73  Smiles at me  ********  Dawn and I play outside she asks “Do you know what your first mistake was?” I shrug my shoulders   “I don’t know” Dawn laughs   “Being born!”  Her words   knock me   sideways  “It was a joke” I gasp for breath   for words fight back a tear  I don’t have her mother   who smiles who sits beside me arms wrapped around me squeezing love inside whose forehead wrinkles with concern when I don’t feel well who frames my artwork who delights in my  everything  Walking home I don’t feel   wind tickle my cheeks I don’t see pink blossoms leaping  twirling  Walking home I hear my shoes   hit the pavement I hear Mother wishing I wasn’t born    August  Mother tells me what clothes to wear so I match Sister  “Twins” strangers say 74  “No”  Mother says “Really?” Strangers like to guess   who is older Always point  to Sister  Mother tells me what colour to wear out in public so I match Mother And Sister I want to wear green Mother says  “We all wear orange”  ********  Today is the Abbotsford Air Show Mother says “Wear purple” I sigh thump down the hall carpet absorbing my anger I leap onto my bed   cross my legs   arms  Tai Tai wanders in stretches up pads my knees with front paws I scoop him up  hold him tight  Tai Tai rubs his velvet wet nose against my neck   under my chin whiskers tickle  Tai Tai’s purrs roll over me like ocean waves steady  to shore  ********  I lace up my brand new runners walk up the street along Marine to John King’s house  first to Johanna’s front door  second  Johanna spies my runners “Yours are not Real   North Stars” I stare at her feet two bright blue stripes  slender   zip zag edges NORTH STAR printed across 75   “Yours are not leather” They turn   walk up the hill laughter spilling behind them  I stare at my shoes my feet   heavy like Brother’s  lead  fishing weights  my new white runners  from  Sears three navy blue stripes chunky  zig zag edges No North Star  to guide my steps  I want to rub dirt to dim their brightness so No one else sears me  with their laughter ******** End of today Each day Every day Mother sighs “Another day shot” a blast of filthy air filling the house  I wrinkle my forehead confused shake my head puzzled so many scrumptious   people to meet delicious food to eat so many beautiful places to see things to learn  Another beautiful day ******** I hold on to a thread a finely spun filament of spider’s silk my feet sink beneath me wash away 76  by the tidal wave of tears   engulfing swallowing “Help” I sob no one hears I clench  teeth hand forms a fist punches   My leg over and over breaking  tearing  tender blood vessels hurting  bruising skin “I hate you” I pound harder “You’re stupid I hate you I hate you”  muscles scream in protest “You never NEVER do anything right” thigh muscles throbs I collapse onto my bed tears fall like a truck unloading sand dump heavy tongue reaches out catches tears that meander too close like a Venus Fly Catcher   salty  Tears dry higher up leave a film on cheeks sandpaper to my fingertips I drag my bedspread over my head around my body aftermath waves rise  swell shake my chest  soften   roll away  Calm settles I am adrift with no solid safe spot   to land lost to who I am alone on a vast sea  another wave crashes in   I tremble surrender   allowing the wave to wash over and through I pull knees tight to chest   wrap arms around tight   tuck inside a cocoon eyes close breath flat faint 77  I want to disappear wash away  pain that rips  scrapes  Wash away agony  hiding inside  Wash away me    ********  Today I drape the dishcloth over the sink  Mother picks it up folds it   over the door in its “proper” place  Heidi’s mother drapes it over the faucet  Three ways to hang a dishcloth Alright  All right  ********  “The Sixth no sooner had begun About the beast to grope, Than, seizing on the swinging tail That fell within his scope, “I see,” quoth he, “the Elephant Is very like a rope!”  And so these men of Indostan Disputed loud and long, Each in his own opinion Exceeding stiff and strong, Though each was partly in the right, And all were in the wrong!” (Saxe, n.d.).  ******** 78  1966 Red is Best     “My mom doesn’t understand about red” (Stinson, 1988).  “I like my red boots the best. My mom says, ‘You can’t wear your red boots in the snow. They’re just for rainy weather.’ But my red boots take bigger steps. I like my red boots the best” (Stinson, 1988).  “But I can jump higher in my red stockings. I like my red stockings the best (Stinson, 1988).    I watch Mother from the shadows wait for her to begin  Wind moans outside thrashes against the porch screen wanting in slithers through cracks in the door slinks low across the linoleum bites at my ankles  Rain smacks against the window drops heavy weeps blurs the apple tree a cup of water spilled on my landscape painting  Dinner dishes done kitchen table clear Mother unfolds red fabric stretches it out like a table cloth  Red fabric my red fabric a giant pancake covered in strawberry jam fills my tummy makes my heart sing I like my red fabric Mother lifts her sewing basket opens the lid 79  wooden spools piled high like walnuts in a bowl one falls onto the floor with a crack rolls  a thin red trail unravels Hits the fridge Stops dead  Mother snaps her scissors open a hungry mouth devouring scissors stop hand stiffens “Someone always dies” Mother mutters  Eyes flash fear like an animal stunned by headlights  Mother shakes her head Scissors slice UP and Down Snap open and closed across the red landscape  One piece Two    Three giant puzzle pieces  drop onto the chair limp  A screech of brakes  Mother lifts her head 80  a knock at the front door “Who would that be at this time of night?”  Scissors drop Heavy onto the table  Mother patters down the hallway to the front door I slip through the living room Mother flips open the brass viewer A young man’s voice  “Sorry to bother you I hit a....”  Mother slaps the viewer closed swings the door open wide wind heaves and groans a sea of wetness rushes in  Mother screams   “Oh my God Sim” The man lifts Sim limp dripping onto Mother’s outstretched arms  “I’m so sorry I didn’t see your cat It was dark raining”  Mother talks to Sim not to the man “I’m so sorry” Mother strokes Sim’s head “I should never have cut red cloth"  The man turns walks away I step back into the shadows chest pounding like a scraped knee pressed with pebbles on fire  Red my Christmas Concert costume 81   Red cut red cloth  Red Mother's cat  Cut Red Danger  Cut Red Death    ********    “But red paint puts singing in my head. I like the red paint best (Stinson, 1988).    ******** 82  The Method to My Madness Choice of Texts  As a young child growing up in Vancouver in the 1960’s, I often frequented the local public library, as well as attended the occasional Disney film that showed at the nearby theatre. When selecting children’s stories, in book and film form, for this thesis, I began by recalling memorable stories that impacted me during my childhood (see Appendix A). Several stood out above the rest: P. D. Eastman’s Are You My Mother?, P. L. Travers’ Mary Poppins, Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are, Astrid Lindgren’s Pippi Longstocking, Charles Dicken’s Oliver Twist, and John Godfrey Saxe’s The Blind Men and the Elephant. Although I viewed the film Oliver! (based on Charles Dickens’ novel Oliver Twist) only once on my eighth birthday and the musical film Mary Poppins (adapted from P. L. Travers’ novel by the same title) when I was five-years-old, lyrics, dialogue, and visual images from both made a permanent impression that validated and informed, motivating me to seek something beyond the destructive messages at home. Red is Best, written by Kathy Stinson, was selected as the seventh and final children’s story because of the power of its words, text, and message to heal the childhood trauma around the colour red that I carried into my adulthood. As I listed my seven selections, I noticed a pattern--each of my chosen children’s stories ‘belonged’ to one of my formative years from age four to nine.    Process  In preparation for writing responses to my story selections, I read books on crafting a memoir. Following Myers’ (2010) suggestion to select major turning points, “time[s] of power and energy” (p. 30), I jotted down compelling fragments of memory while reflecting upon each chosen text. My bits and pieces of remembered childhood revolved around a common theme-- 83  that of my mother and her abusive behaviour toward me. Myers states that themes may emerge through the process of selecting major life events. Because Myers also recommends building scenes to include rising action, one major climax, and a resolution, I structured my outlined scenes to form a traditional story arc; however, when I began writing, surrendering to words and images that I felt in my body, allowing them to flow through me onto the page, this traditional arc did not materialize. Instead, because I trusted and accepted what unfolded, welcoming the unexpected (Hirshfield, 1997, p. 50), my memoir resembled a series of small hills with many highs and lows (see Figure 9).         Figure 9. Story arc resembling a series of small hills. [primary source]. 84  Poetry as My Mode of Expression  According to Carl Leggo (1997), each of us has a “distinctive voice that blossoms in particular genres as preferred modes of articulation” (p. 7). During the writing process, words poured onto the page, artifacts of my childhood finding their voice in poetic narrative; in a sense, poetry chose me. I recall expressing myself in a similar style of writing years ago during my high school English classes. This past year, through poetry, my inner child found her voice, expressing herself through simple, lyrical language that created image--her babble and doodle (Leggo, 1997, p. 132). What Leggo (2014) calls the capacious nature of poetry meant endless opportunities to explore and play with language and structure, thereby creating multiple meanings. My artistic, intuitive, and curious personality found a compatibility in poetry, giving me courage to express myself with confidence (Lamb, 2008, p. 11). My kinetic, musical side discovered the riches of rhythm in the hum and beat of words and phrases. Poetry can be iambic, imitating and complimenting the rhythms of breath and the heart (Leggo, 2014). Employing lyrical language and rhythm empowered me to authentically express myself. When writing my poetic narratives, I experienced the power of poetic language to soothe negatively charged memories. Gregory Orr (2002) has personally experienced the transformative power of writing poetry, a redemptive repository for his incomprehensible suffering (pp. 6-8). As I settled into writing, the world fell away. I entered a sacred space where self disappeared and words, images, and scenes flowed, bringing forth connections and insights. Poetry allowed me to write an ever-changing kaleidoscope that combined lyrical, narrative, philosophical, and language-focused elements (Leggo, 2014). In this way, writing poetic narratives facilitated 85  making visible my invisible childhood worlds so that what I crafted was more than “a mere articulation of experience” (Parini, 2008, p. 181).    Research Methodology Approaches  Writing Autobiography  According to hooks (1998), writing autobiographically to recall and recapture past events and experiences has limitations. Autobiography is a subjective recount, evoking the spirit of a unique personal experience rather than the accuracy of its details (pp. 430-431). hooks (1998) comments that telling one’s story is “a gesture of longing to recover the past in such a way that one experiences both a sense of reunion and a sense of release” (p. 431). This notion that remembering can usher the autobiographical writer into a sense of reunion and release with beautiful and broken bits of self is valid, and one I personally experienced when penning my recollections. My unspoken hope has long been to permanently separate myself from the storehouse of painful memories my inner child housed, snipping the threads that wove me to her story. However, during this writing process, I rediscovered, one layer at a time, the beauty and courage of this inner child and her resourceful, indomitable, and imaginative spirit. I felt acceptance, love, and pride for her and what we had lived through together. The fact that she mustered a sense of agency in midst of physical and emotional ‘starvation’, engaging with story book characters to imagine possibilities for a more promising future, emblazons her in my heart as one of my heroes. 86  Writing Memoir  Linda J. Myers (2010) states that memoir provides a space to voice one’s truth. During the writing process, past hurts and shadows fall away, making space for new insights and empowering the individual (pp. 133-134). I agree with Myers’ perspective on the benefits of writing personal narrative; as I wrote poetic scenes, the emotional textures associated with what I lived as a young girl washed away, releasing, in its wake, new understandings and compassion for both myself and my mother. Writing about my childhood secrets diminished their potency, allowing new awareness to surface. William Zinsser (1998) states that compelling memoirs are well-crafted, honest where the writer makes sense of their past, present, and what shaped them, and nourishing for the reader because suffering is presented without judgement (pp. 4-6). Because of regular counseling support over the years, my thesis functioned as a site for discovery rather than for unloading unprocessed emotions. Jill Ker Conway (1998) believes that in order to effectively write memoir or autobiography, detachment from the events is necessary. She suggests a minimum of twenty years so that sufficient distance separates the writer from the content. Although the gap between my thesis and my childhood spans forty-five years, temporal detachment does not guarantee emotional healing or the ability to write clearly and meaningfully. For this reason, prior to and during the writing process, I sought the support of a counselor when emotional blocks surfaced and interfered. 87  Personal Narrative  Vivian Gornick (2001) uses “personal narrative” and “memoir” interchangeably, stating, “without detachment, there can be no story” (p. 12). Gornick’s assertion that effective personal narratives require sufficient detachment from the material influenced how I approached my childhood memories. Throughout the writing process, I strove to maintain a detached but attentive and present posture. While re-experiencing the events and emotions of my early childhood, the adult in me situated herself as an omniscient observer watching the scenes unfold with objectivity and compassion. According to Gornick, another important consideration of personal narrative is that “[t]he poet, the novelist, the memoirist--all must convince the reader they have some wisdom, and are writing as honestly as possible to arrive at what they know” (p. 14). I focused on writing what needed to be spoken, rather than on persuading reader response.     Writing Autoethnography  Because I was writing about myself within the context of my relationship with my mother during the 1960’s, I initially concluded that my narratives fit an autoethnographic model. Although Louise Richardson and Elizabeth Adams St. Pierre (2008a) discuss issues related to writing stories and personal narratives within an autoethnographic and ethnographic paradigm of social scientific writing, some of their points compliment and support my writing approach. Their research, particularly in the section titled, Writing Stories and Personal Narratives, demonstrates how autoethnographic writing has cross-overs to the work I produced. They stretch the boundaries of autoethnographic writing by encouraging the inclusion of aspects of storytelling and narrative writing. More specifically, they encourage (auto)ethnographers to “construct...narratives that situate one’s writing in other parts of one’s life such as...research 88  interests, familial ties, and personal history” (p. 965). My poetry is written in the context of my maternal relationship growing up as it relates to selections of children’s fiction. There are additional parallels between autoethnography and my writing. Carolyn Ellis (2009) encourages other aspects of autoethnography that, on reflection, feature in my personal narrative process. These include writing and representing content honestly but ethically.     Poetic Inquiry  and Life Writing  According to Hasebe-Ludt, Chambers, & Leggo (2009), stories shape us. The act of writing poetic autobiography and life writing allows us to connect with and construct meaning from lived experiences (p. 55). They observe that life writing encompasses a broad spectrum of narrative genres, including memoir, poetry, creative non-fiction, and poetic prose - it is much broader than the other narrative categories in that it includes journaling, creative non-fiction, personal essay, and letters (p. 7). Whether one labels my poetic writing memoir, life writing, autobiography, autoethnography or creative non-fiction, my personal poetic narratives tell pieces of my story that create meaning, transform, strengthen self-identity, and make connections to a broader context (Ellis, 2009, p. 165; Hasebe-Ludt et al., 2009).     Research Methodology  Having explored a variety of scholarly writings on research methodology, I see little difference between narrative genres except for the academic fields in which they operate. These many narrative expressions of storytelling that include life writing, personal narrative, poetic prose, memoir, autobiography, and autoethnography intersect and overlap as they serve to accomplish a similar goal--that of creating meaning and connection to self and others, and of 89  enriching and enhancing understandings in academia. By providing a theoretical framework for my poetic narratives, I have come to appreciate the process of writing my stories within the broader context of others’ theorizing of their personal narratives. I have felt particularly validated by the creative journeys of Ellis (2004), hooks (1998), and Hasebe-Ludt et al. (2009), as well as the psychoanalytical perspective of Miller (2001, 2006, 2009, & 2014), through which I viewed my poetic narratives. Although writing personal narratives can be a frightening and risky endeavor because of the permanent “traces” of ourselves left behind (hooks, 1998, p. 430), the need to express ourselves through our stories is fundamentally human (Pennebaker, 2011). Despite the risks involved in exploring and sharing the shadows of our lived experiences with others, the general consensus among many scholars is that it is an empowering, liberating, and transformative process (hooks, 1998; Orr, 2002; Ellis, 2004). When crafting narratives in an academic context, it seems to me that the process of writing naturally becomes one of inquiry and research. In this way, the personal storyteller is simultaneously researching, inquiring and mining the heart for its lived experiences that, when shared, will transform, inform, and connect. Gregory Orr (2002) and Nancy Lamb (2008) comment on the dichotomous nature of the human personality--how we all have shadows. By acknowledging personal shadows, Orr experiences and models their transformative power. Lamb encourages incorporating themes of light and shadow when crafting narrative. Writing my personal narratives with themes of trauma and abuse was frightening; however, knowing that both Orr and Lamb applaud delving into our personal stories of suffering and sorrow validates my work and gives me confidence. For Gregory Orr, writing his pain into poetic personal lyric began the process of healing. For me, 90  reading stories transformed my lived experiences of pain and trauma into something of hope and beauty. For example, as a young child, my mother’s superstitions distorted my view of the colour red. However, with each reading of the light-filled, delight-filled children’s story, Red is Best, my fears slowly dissolved. The power of words and image changed my lived experience from one of terror and panic to one of calm and content.   91  The Merit of Personal Narratives and Poetry Within Scholarly Research   In his book, Living the Narrative Life, Gian Pagnucci (2004) effectively combines narrative--personal stories and poetry--with theoretical research. These seemingly incompatible writing approaches demonstrate that “essayistic literacy is not the exclusive means by which one can create knowledge in the world” (p. 2). In his forward to Pagnucci’s book, Lad Tobin understands that not everyone will appreciate “read[ing] scholarship that includes or even relies on stories...even if that story is clearly there to illustrate a point and even if the rest of the article clearly demonstrates intellectual rigor and sophistication” (Tobin in Pagnucci, 2004, p. ix). Both Pagnucci (2004) and Leggo (2012) push the boundaries of traditional academic research by juxtaposing story, poem, and prose alongside scholarly essay and research. Patricia Leavy, in her forward to Leggo (2012), describes the significance of this blended approach, stating that Leggo “not only represent[s] the best of arts-based research, but he is developing a new literary architecture that thoughtfully combines essay, prose, and the poetry he so loves” (p. xi). Narrative stories now have a voice within academic writing thanks to Pagnucci (2004), Leggo (2012), and other scholars who pushed academic boundaries on behalf of narrative writing, thus “claim[ing] new space for narrative scholars and teachers, new room for [us] to tell the stories that matter” (Pagnucci, 2004, p. 2). This movement has paved the way for me to include poetic narrative within this thesis. Tobin (as cited in Pagnucci, 2004) believes narrative strengthens and enhances scholarly writing. However, the position of narrative in academia is often undermined by the flawed belief that the latter is superior. Mark Turner (1996) argues that neither takes precedence over the other--both have a vital role in scholarly writing. Turner gives credibility to the narrative story when he states that it is “the fundamental instrument of thought. Rational capacities depend upon 92  it” (p. 5). Turner goes on to say that “[narrative] is our chief means of looking into the future, of predicting, of planning, and of explaining. It is a literary capacity indispensable to human cognition generally” (p. 5). Turner’s statements substantiate the value of narrative writing within a scholarly domain. Clearly, narrative can and should hold its own as an equal partner alongside theoretical research and essay writing. Jeff Park (2005) builds on Turner’s perspective, stating that narratives should not be relegated to a secondary position. He believes that “narratives are the heart of the book because they evoke the experiences of the writers...constantly negotiating meaning and significance in their lives” (p. 47). In much the same way, my poetic narratives are foundational to this thesis because they show the powerful and meaningful relationship I developed with children’s literature, which throughout my life has been a source of healing and comfort. The employment of evocative narrative language seeks to usher the readers of my thesis into my world as a child. Park (2005) speaks of interweaving narrative and paradigmatic writing (p. 51). These effectively work in tandem to “create a deeper meaning and understanding for the reader” (p. 51). I offer poetic narrative stories from my childhood to more powerfully show the role children’s books played in my rising above an abusive maternal relationship. The theoretical substantiates and gives a contextual framework for this poetic narrative. Jane Hirshfield (1997) states: And because [poetry] thinks by music and image, by story and passion and voice, poetry can do what other forms of thinking cannot: approximate the actual flavor of life, in which subjective and objective become one, in which conceptual mind and the inexpressible presence of things become one (p. 32).  Hirshfield’s statement that poetry is both conceptual and emotive adds weight and value to the notion that creative forms of writing have a substantive place within academia. bell hooks interweaves personal stories in her scholarship to enrich her theoretical positioning. Working in tandem, story and theory produce an effective and powerful multi- 93  sensory reading experience. This is evident when her essays and non-fiction are sprinkled with her personal memoir (1998, 2004). Other scholars’ work (Pugnucci, 2004; Hasebe-Ludt et al., 2009) also brilliantly juxtaposes personal narratives and poetry alongside rigorous theoretical discourse. Their work mirrors my partnering of life writing and theory. According to Weinberg (2008), although autobiographical and life writing have gained ground in scholarly circles, they continue to be stigmatized as the “‘bastard’ children of academe” (as cited in Hasebe-Ludt et al., 2009, p. 3). Narcisse Blood, in his introduction to Hasebe-Ludt et al. (2009), states that writing autobiographicallly as an approach to knowledge contributes to the relevancy of academia (p. xvi). As life writing continues to partner with theoretical research in academic contexts, life writing and its sister genres will continue to gain ground as a credible, vital mode of adding to the body of academic knowledge.   94  Deconstruction   The meanings I derived from my engagement with story, both as a child and as an adult, were influenced by my imagination and personal experiences in the context of a middle class family in the 1960’s. Growing up, I approached each story with a childlike eagerness, trusting the meanings I constructed. I never once questioned my interpretation. It is apparent now, forty- five years later, that the notion of deconstruction was operative, giving me unspoken permission to imagine and interpret the characters’ choices and behaviours as they suited my personal needs. (Leggo, 1997). Approaching children’s stories with this open-ended mindset “help[ed] [me] find a centralizing narrative for [my] life” (Pagnucci, 2004, p. 45). Giving my childhood self the freedom to interpret and make multiple meanings and connections deepened my engagement with and experience of children’s stories.   95  Reader Response   Louise M. Rosenblatt (1978), a pioneer of the reader-response theory, challenged the notion that there is one right way to interpret literature. Rosenblatt developed transactional theory, an open-ended approach to discussing and analyzing literature where personal aesthetic engagement and responses between reader, writer, and text create meaning and result in diverse interpretations. Rosenblatt’s approach where the reader is actively engaged with text, validates the way in which I approached the stories I read and viewed as a young child. I generally saw stories as an invitation to discover, connect, and wonder rather than a code to decipher (Leggo, 2014). According to Rosenblatt, we bring different life experiences to the pages of these children’s stories, resulting in equally valid but vastly different perspectives of the same picture book. Carl Leggo (1997) presents a fresh look at reader-response theory and the dynamic and active relationship readers have with the words of text. Engaging with a text gives the reader an opportunity to create meanings from their own first impressions and reactions (p. 32). This clarifies how reader-response theory functioned whenever I viewed, listened, or read text as a young child. Unlike today where information is instantly and readily available, in the 1960‘s I often had only one chance to engage with a film or story, as was the case with Oliver!, Mary Poppins, and The Blind Men and the Elephant. Unfortunately, I did not have the opportunity to share my responses with siblings, parents or teachers, or to discover how others responded to a similar story. However, I recall making connections and posing questions to myself that I pondered and ruminated over. A process of inquiry was taking place, but one that was modified and incomplete because I had to compensate for the lack of people with whom to share my thoughts. Sharing and responding occurred within my head, with me taking both sides -- an ongoing two-way conversation with myself around a curiosity or question that puzzled or 96  intrigued me. According to Leggo, there are myriad ways to respond to text. As a child, I connected to children’s stories by bringing my personal experiences or responding to the mood, emotions, and characters (p. 32). My childhood response to Sendak’s book, Where the Wild Things Are, demonstrates how powerfully my abusive home environment, where I experienced terror at the hands of my mother on a daily basis, impacted my perceptions and response to the fictitious monsters who gnashed their teeth. Sendak’s text and images terrified me. I chose to walk away from mounting terror--something I could not do in real life. When Max romps among wild animals gnashing their teeth like the God’s description of hell, I slammed the story shut, not revisiting the text until years later. In this way, books empowered me to honour my inner strength and voice. As an adult and parent, I brought new experiences and life history to Sendak’s story, this time appreciating the main character’s playful imagination and his mother’s loving gesture of a hot meal on the closing page. As a graduate student, I reverted to an efferent perspective (Rosenblatt, 1978). I felt embarrassed that, as a child, I was frightened of Sendak’s ‘wild things’ and wished I had experienced his story in a positive light similar to my peers. Reader-response theory also influenced my interaction with other texts, such as the poem, “The Blind Men and the Elephant”, by John Godfrey Saxe, which my grade four teacher read aloud. Like the Sendak story, I brought my personal lived experiences to the text. My mother’s controlling ‘one right way’ to do anything began to dissolve as the blind men demonstrated more than one way to perform a task. My mind squirreled this truth away, applying it to my life at home whenever my mother wielded control, saying that her way was the only way. As a result of engaging with Saxe’s poem, a chink developed in the armour of my mother’s incontestable words. As an adult, Rosenblatt’s approach to text provided me with ways of making 97  transformative interactions between my perceptions of the colour red formulated from traumatic experiences lived as a child and Kathy Stinson’s picture book, Red is Best, which I read aloud to my toddler shortly after its publication. This story offered another perspective, leading to a response of delight to red, different than my previous experience of fright.   98  The Cathartic Comforting Nature of Reading Story   According to Rob Bittner (2011), young adult literature addresses a plethora of adolescent topics and issues and has the capacity to help its readers “cope with trauma and adversity, and find healing”.  Because children’s literature is also filled with characters facing conflicts and struggles, such as P. D. Eastman’s picture book, Are You My Mother?, where baby bird ‘loses’ his mother, children’s stories can also be a significant source of healing and comfort. In her article, Bonding in the Broken Places, Kathy Cline (2001) mentions that when readers engage with characters’ fictitious problems, literature becomes the “catharsis for healing, rebuilding, and changing” (as cited in Bittner, 2011, p. 2). If the storybook character successfully navigates frightening, disappointing, and overwhelming situations, a message of hope and courage is transmitted that the reader, who can apply that message to his or her own difficulties and challenging life circumstances and no longer feel so alone. As my poetic narratives show, children’s stories have the capacity to comfort, heal, and transform the broken places of a child’s heart. In his 1950 Nobel Peace Prize speech, William Faulkner (Nobel Media, 2014) exhorted poets and writers to hearten and buoy up the human spirit by writing about qualities including courage, hope, honour, and compassion. Both Oliver Twist and Pippi Longstocking are such heartening books. The protagonists respond with courage, humour, and compassion to difficult situations. Reading such texts provided me with positive role modeling that lifted my spirits as a child, helped me survive and endure, and eventually to overcome. Francine Prose (2006) comments that rereading the writing of other authors inspires, energizes, and gives her courage. Reading about the lives of fictional characters who struggle and prevail can embolden and empower.   99  The Power of Imagination to Transform   The relationships that Dennis J. Sumara (2002) developed with “literary characters and their situations” impressed upon him that he had the power to change his lived experiences (p.31). He states that a person’s identity can be informed by the relationship people have with books (p. 9). I believe readers can forge important relationships with the characters in fiction and film. As I positioned myself alongside many of the characters who behaved and made choices that I respected and admired, many of these characters became friends and mentors speaking into my life. In Narratives of Struggle, bell hooks (1991) shares how her relationship with books saved her, how she entrusted her ‘broken bits’ and became whole again, and how her relationship with books allowed her to imagine new promising possibilities for her future (p. 55). Using my imagination alongside P. D. Eastman’s text helped me navigate times of loneliness and survive. A laundry wicker basket and a humming dryer represented the only source of nurturing maternal love, made real and tangible as I re-enacted the image of and my emotional connection to baby bird safely snuggled inside a cozy nest beside his comforting mother bird. Imagination is a powerful starting point toward transformation. Wendy Lesser (2014) states that one of the many rewards of reading includes “find[ing] [one]self in someone else’s words” (p. 3). Lesser speaks of her fictional experiences often surpassing reality (p. 5). Her most memorable conversations with text were in “mute communion with absent authors” (p. 7). Both Lesser and hooks discovered tremendous healing and growth from the relationships they forged with books. Through unleashing the imagination as one engages with a variety of texts, readers can develop deep, meaningful, and transformative connections with the material they read, and in doing so, experience the power of books to heal. As a young child, using my imagination allowed me to step inside the pages and words of Eastman’s picture book, Are You My Mother?. Similar to Lesser and hooks’ experience with 100  books, this children’s story helped transform my pale day-to-day reality into something much more palatable. Christina Baldwin (2007) states that while attending to another’s story, we “accept an invitation into experiences that are not our own” (p. 7). Once ‘inside’, we scan our own memories to make connections (p. 7). This overlaying of another’s words on our own experiences is what I did when I read and listened to stories as a young child. The power of others’ words and the connections I made helped me reshape and recreate my reality.  Louise Hay (1999) says every human being needs to know and believe that they are worth loving. I gleaned this life-changing message from my engagement with children’s stories where, for example, images of Oliver smiling beside his surrogate grandfather and baby bird snuggled up close with his mother presented a reality that I wished were my own. I integrated their experiences into my world, and realised I must also be worth loving. Ellis (2009) claims that education exposed her to “diverse people and ways of thinking,” affording her the luxury of choice, enabling her to design who she wished to become (p. 49). Similarly, children’s stories exposed me to diverse ways of thinking, providing me with choices and tools to craft who I wished to grow up to be. In this way, story deepened my connection to the world of others (Hirshfield, 1997, p. 26) and launched me out beyond my mother’s orbit into realms of possibility (Neufeld, G. & Mate, G., 2004).   101  A Psychological Perspective   Alice Miller (2006), a German Jewish psychoanalyst, weaves pieces of her own traumatic childhood stories into her books, addressing child abuse and mistreatment at the hands of often well intentioned but uninformed adults. Unlike Miller, who had no opportunity to view her mother’s abusive comments against the behavioral backdrop of other maternal figures, I was able to make comparisons between my lived experience of adults who figured in my childhood and the affirming and frightening adult characters in the stories I read. Miller (2001) states that in order to change anything in our lives or the world, we must first make the distinction between what is good and what is bad (p. 102). According to Pagnucci (2004) “[c]hildren use stories of good families or heroes to develop notions of good and bad and how they will conduct themselves (p. 44). My engagement with children’s stories helped me make this distinction. Pagnucci believes that “the stories we learn as children from our family members are stories of identity”(p. 89) and that our personal narratives create our belief systems (p. 4). Children’s stories were instrumental in the construction of new beliefs and a strong sense of identity. Miller (2006) also believes that young children who blindly comply to social moral norms and standards, especially the fourth biblical commandment (honour thy father and mother), often do so at the expense of their psychological, emotional, and physical health and well-being. Attending church in the 1960’s and hearing Billy Graham and other evangelical Christians pressing their congregations with guilt and fear axioms, including the commandment of honouring parents, added to the fears already building inside from abusive interactions experienced at home. However, because I engaged with children’s stories featuring characters who resisted this cultural notion that children should be seen and not heard, I wrestled with, rather than swallowed, this biblical absolute. Pippi fearlessly and cleverly stands up to a pair of 102  policemen who attempt to place her in a foster home, and Oliver asks the orphanage’s authorities for more porridge on behalf of his fellow orphans. Their choices and examples encouraged me to tenaciously voice my disenchantment even in spite of the ensuing negative consequences for doing so. According to Shaun Duggins (2011), a sense of agency includes the conviction that one has the ability to succeed. As a young child, ‘meeting’ strong, independent fictitious characters, ones who resisted social norms, heartened and mobilized me. Promising endings to painful stories also contributed to fostering a pertinacious belief that I could and would overcome. In particular, witnessing Oliver create something better moved me onto a trajectory where I knew it was entirely possible for me to do the same. Miller (2006) believes that we can provide the unconditional love, respect, understanding for our emotions, and protection that our parental figures withheld (p. 22). Although, as a child, I did not fully understand what respect meant, witnessing story characters who operated in kind, compassionate, and protective ways gave me an experience of what constituted a loving relationship. Children’s stories offered another powerful form of support that Miller (2006) calls the ‘enlightened witness’. Miller believes that in order to heal from childhood trauma, we need an experience of love, achieved when someone shares or witnesses the horror, danger, and loneliness of what our little child suffered (pp. 22-23)--providing a safe space in which to be heard. Children’s books and stories became my enlightened witness. According to Miller (2006), “children pay a high price for denying and concealing the truth of [their] abuse from [them]selves; this knowledge buries itself in [their] body as some form of physical illness” (pp. 15, 33).  Similarly, Gabor Maté (2003) speaks of repressed emotions manifesting in physical illness. Had I not had access to children’s books and stories to 103  witness my painful reality, I may not have had the courage to acknowledge the reality of my abuse. Without Oliver and Pippi and the others who witnessed my life, I expect I would have remained alone and hopeless. With no one to hear my pain, I expect, as Miller points out, I would have repressed my mother’s destructive behaviour. Undoubtedly, these storybook witnesses minimized the negative effects of my abuse by keeping me aware and determined, ensuring that I would not blindly repeat the harmful patterns that had been modeled to me (Miller, 2001, p. 97).   104  A Cathartic Closing   It was the power of poetry that served for Gregory Orr (2002) as a tool for healing the damage and trauma of his childhood, enabling him to recover. Words were also instrumental in my healing process. However, in my case, it was the power of reading others’ stories, presented in picture books, poems, novels, and film, that provided healing and hope. Richardson and St. Pierre (2008a, p. 481), as well as bell hooks (1998), speak of the power of words to heal wounds, especially, according to hooks (1998), when we, as reader and writer, remember and reunite with shattered and shadowed pieces of our fragmented lives. hooks describes a wish to obliterate or ‘kill’ her young self, thus releasing the grip of painful memories. She believed that once she spilled her inner child’s anguish and torment onto the page, she would be free (p. 429). However, hooks discovered that reuniting with, rather than rejecting, her shadowed and broken places is how the transformative and integrative healing power of words began working its magic: In writing about her, I reclaimed that part of myself I had long ago rejected, left uncared for, just as she had often felt alone and uncared for as a child. Remembering was part of a cycle of reunion, a joining of fragments, “the bits and pieces of my heart” that narrative made whole again (p. 432).  Honouring the urge to craft my childhood experiences as poetic narrative for this thesis allowed me to bring my silenced voice out into the open so, like hooks, I could reunite with my forgotten fragments, making real and permanent the shadowed remnants that unfolded behind cloaked windows. Framing my life writing with a theoretical perspective completed the cycle of healing, validating something deep within because my stories are braided into the collective mosaic of stories (Hasebe-Ludt, Chambers, & Leggo, 2009). By “bringing the world to the window” (Zusak, 2000, as cited in Bean & Moni, 2003, p. 24) of my familial home, I bear witness to the power of children’s story to heal the reader and the magic of sharing stories to heal the writer. 105  I salute the many scholars (e.g. Pagnucci, 2004; Hasebe-Ludt, Chambers, & Leggo, 2012) who forged ahead, going to battle on behalf of narrative writing, thus “claim[ing] new space for narrative scholars and teachers, new room for [us] to tell the stories that matter” (Pagnucci, 2004, p. 2). Their arts-based narratives pave the way for me to share my personal narratives. Pagnucci (2004) observes that we risk telling our personal stories within an academic context because its integral to who we are--“[we] don’t have a choice” (p. 17). It has been liberating to speak my stories as a valid and important aspect of this thesis--to come in from the margins and make my voice heard. My hope in writing and sharing my personal poetic narratives, and situating them within my research interest of children’s literature, is that they will evoke conversation and inquiry around the value of children’s libraries and literature, and its potential to heal, bring hope, and transform children’s lives. As well, I hope this thesis will evoke conversation as to the value and rightful place of stories and poetry in academic writing. 106  References American Psychological Association. (2010). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.). Washington, DC: Author. Baldwin, C, (2007). Storycatcher: Making sense of our lives through the power and practice of story. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from Bean, T. W. & Moni, K. (2003). Developing students’ critical literacy: Exploring identity construction in young adult fiction. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy. 46(8), 638-648. Binder, M. J. (2011). Remembering why: The role of story in educational research. e in education: exploring our connective educational landscape, 7(2). Retrieved from Bittner, R. (2011). Queering Christianity: The journey from rigid doctrine to personal theologies in a selection of YA literature with LGBTQ content (Master’s thesis). Cameron, J. (2001). The writer’s life. New York, NY: Tarcher/Putnam. Chambers, C., Hasebe-Ludt, E., Leggo, C., & Sinner, A. (2012). A heart of wisdom: Life writing as empathetic inquiry. Complicated Conversation: A Series in Curriculum Studies. New York, NY: Peter Lang. Church, G. W. (1997). The significance of Louise Rosenblatt on the field of teaching literature. Inquiry, 1(1), 71-77. Retrieved from Conway, J. K. (1998). Points of departure. In W. Zinsser (Ed.), Inventing the truth: The art and craft of memoir (pp. 41-59). New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin. Denzin & Y. S. Lincoln (Eds.), The sage handbook of qualitative research (3rd ed., pp. 959- 978). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Dickens, C. (2009). Oliver Twist. London: Arcturus. (Original work published 1838).  107  Duggins, S. D. (2011). The development of sense of agency. Psychology Theses. Paper 88. Retrieved from Eastman, P. D. (1960). Are you my mother?. Toronto, ON: Random House.  Ellis, C. (2004). The Ethnographic I: A methodological novel about autoethnography. Walnut Creek, CA: Alta Mira. Ellis, C. (2009). Revision. Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press. HarperCollins Publishers. (n.d). Where the wild things are. Retrieved from Hasebe-Ludt, E., Chambers, C., & Leggo, C. (2009). Life writing and literary metissage as an ethos for our times. New York, NY: Peter Lang. Hay, L. L. (1999). You can heal your life. Carlsbad, CA: Hay House.  Hirshfield, J. (1997). Nine gates: Entering the mind of poetry. New York, NY: HarperCollins.  hooks, b. (1991). Narratives of struggle. In P. Mariani (Ed.), Critical fictions: The politics of imaginative writing. Washington: Bay Press. hooks, b. (1996). Bone black: Memories of girlhood. New York, NY: Henry Holt.  hooks, b. (1998). Writing autobiography. In S. Smith & J. Watson (Eds.), Women, autobiography, theory: A reader (pp. 429-432). Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin.  hooks, b. (2004). The will to change: Men, masculinity, and love. New York, NY: Atriva Books. George, E. (2004). Write away: One novelist’s approach to fiction and the writing life. New York, NY: HarperCollins. Gornick, V. (2001). The situation and the story: The art of personal narrative. New York, NY: Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 108  John Godfrey Saxe. (2014). In Wikipedia. Retrieved August 3, 2014, from Lacey, M. (2013). Life writing: Discerning truths dwelling in the heart of humanity. Retrieved August 3, 2014 from Lamb, N. (2008). The art and craft of storytelling: A comprehensive guide to class writing techniques. Cincinnati, OH: Writer’s Digest. Leggo, C. (1997). Teaching to wonder. Vancouver, BC: Pacific Education Press.   Leggo, C. (2012). Sailing in a concrete boat. Rotterdam, Netherlands: Sense Publishers. Retrieved from Leggo, C. (2014). Notes from lectures on poetics in education. LLED 445. Department of Language and Literacy Education, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC. Lesser, W. (2014). Why I read: The serious pleasure of books. New York, NY: Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Levine, A. (2014, January 2). The real story behind ‘Mary Poppins’. Sonoma State Star. Retrieved from Lindgren, A. (2005). Pippi Longstocking. New York, NY: Puffin.  (Original work published 1950). Lindgren, A. (n.d.). Retrieved August 3, 2014 from Martel, Y. (2009). What is Stephen Harper reading?. Toronto, ON: Vintage. Maté, G. (2003). When the body says no: Exploring the stress-disease connection. Hoboken, NJ: 109  John Wiley & Sons. Miller, A. (2001). The truth will set you free: Overcoming emotional blindness and finding your true adult self. New York, NY: Basic Books. Miller, A. (2006). The body never lies: The lingering effects of hurtful parenting. New York, NY: W. W. Norton. Miller, A. (2009). Breaking down the wall of silence: The liberating experience of facing painful truth. New York, NY: Basic Books. Miller, A. (2014). Alice Miller: Child abuse and mistreatment. Retrieved from Murray, D. M. (1996). Crafting a life in essay, story, poem. Portsmouth, NH: Boynton/Cook.  Myers, L. J. (2010). The power of memoir: How to write your healing story. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. Neufeld, G., & Mate, G. (2004). Hold onto your kids: Why parents need to matter more than peers. Toronto, ON: Vintage. Nobel Media. (2014). Martin Luther King Jr. - Biographical. Retrieved from Nobel Media. (2014). William Faulkner - Banquet Speech. Retrieved from Orr, G. (2002). Poetry as survival. Athens, Georgia: University of Georgia Press.  Pagnucci, G. (2004). Living the narrative life: Stories as a tool for meaning making. Portsmouth, NH: Boynton/Cook. Park, J. (2005). Writing at the edge: Narrative and writing process theory. New York, NY: Peter Lang. 110  Parini, J. (2008). Why poetry matters. New Haven, CT: Caravan. Pennebaker, J. W. (2004). Writing to heal: A guided journal for recovering from trauma & emotional upheaval. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger. Pennebaker, J. W. (2011). The secret life of pronouns. New York, NY: Bloomsbury.  Prendergast, M., Leggo, C., & Sameshima, (Eds.). (2009). Poetic inquiry: Vibrant voices in the social sciences. Rotterdam, Netherlands: Sense Publishers. Retrieved from Prose, F. (2006). Reading like a writer: A guide for people who love books and for those who want to write them. New York, NY: HarperCollins. Rainey, S. (2013, November 29). Saving Mr. Banks: The true story of P. L. Travers. The Telegraph. Retrieved from Reed, C. (Director), Woolf, J. (Producer), Bart, L. (Screenplay writer), Harris, V. (Screenplay), & Dickens, C. (Original author). 1968. Oliver! [Motion picture musical]. United Kingdom: Columbia. Richardson, L. (2000a). Evaluating ethnography. Qualitative Inquiry, 6(2), pp. 253-255. Retrieved from . DOI: 10.1177/107780040000600207. Richardson, L. (2000b). Writing: A method of inquiry. In N. K. Denzin & Y. S. Lincoln (Eds.), Handbook of qualitative research, (2nd ed., pp. 923-948). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Richardson, L., & St. Pierre, E. A. (2008a). Writing: A method of inquiry. In N. K. Denzin & Y. S. Lincoln (Eds.), Handbook of qualitative research, (chapter 38, pp. 959-978). Retrieved from  111  Richardson, L., & St. Pierre, E. A. (2008b). Writing: A method of inquiry. In N. K. Denzin & Y. S. Lincoln (Eds.), Collecting and interpreting qualitative materials, (3rd ed., pp. 473-500). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Rosenblatt, L. M. (1978). The Reader, the text, the poem: The transactional theory of the literary work. USA: Southern Illinois University. Saxe, J. G. (1963). The blind men and the elephant: John Godfrey Saxe’s version of the famous Indian legend. New York, NY: Whittlesey House. Saxe, J. G. (n.d.). Blind men and the elephant. Focusing on Words and Literature. Retrieved August 3, 2014 from Sendak, M. (1991). Where the wild things are. New York, NY: HarperCollins. (Original work published 1963). Steene, B. (2007, November 14). Astrid Lindgren’s legacy. Open Democracy: Free Thinking for the World. Retrieved from Stevenson, R. (Director), Disney, W. (Producer), Walsh, B. (Screenplay writer), DaGradi, D. (Screenplay writer), & Travers, P.L. (Original author). 1964. Mary Poppins [Motion picture musical]. United States: Buena Vista Distribution. Stinson, K. (n.d.). Kathy Stinson--Turning the pages: Canadian author of books for young people. Retrieved August 3, 2014 from Stinson, K. (1988). Red is best. Toronto, ON: Annick. (Original work published 1982).  Sumara, D. J. (2002). Why reading literature in school still matters: Imagination, interpretation, insight. New York, NY: Routledge. Travers, P. L. (1981). Mary Poppins. New York, NY: Sandpiper. (Original work published 1934). 112  Turner, M. (1996). The literary mind. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.  Uppal, P. (2013). Projection: Encounters with my runaway mother. Toronto, ON: Dundurn. Vancouver Public Library. [Photographs of Dunbar Branch Library]. (1950). Retrieved April 7, 2014 from VPL Accession Numbers 9988 & 8857. Public Domain.  Vandenburgh, J. (2010). Architecture of the novel. Berkeley, CA: Counterpoint. von Schmidt, C. (n.d). P. D. Eastman. Retrieved from von Stockar, D. (2006, June). The importance of literacy and books in children’s development: Intellectual, affective and social dimensions. Retrieved from Zinsser, W. (1998). Introduction. In W. Zinsser (Ed.), Inventing the truth: The art and craft of memoir (pp. 1-22). New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin. 113  Appendix A   About the Selected Literary Texts  Are You My Mother?  Are You My Mother?, first published in 1960, is written and illustrated by Philip Dey Eastman (Eastman, 1960). This early picture book is about a baby bird who emerges newly hatched from his shell to discover he is alone because his mother is out hunting for food. Baby bird steps out of the nest, venturing forth into the unknown world in search of his mother. Having not yet met her, baby bird approaches all manner of possibilities from living creatures to machines. Baby bird’s excitement dims when the plane overhead fails to acknowledge him. Fearing the worst when the metal jaws of a giant machine scoop him up, he panics, screaming out for his mother. His worries are assuaged when the ‘Snort’ drops him safely into the nest beside his mother.    Where the Wild Things Are  Where the Wild Things Are has amused young readers for over fifty years since its inception in 1963. Maurice Sendak wrote and illustrated this children’s story that has garnered numerous awards, including the Caldecott Medal for most distinguished picture book of the year (1964). Sendak’s is an imaginative tale about young Max whose mother sends him to his room without dinner because his behaviour is too wild. While sitting in his bedroom, Max imagines himself sailing to a magical world where he is king of the wild things. When hungry and tired of romping, roaring, and gnashing his teeth with the wild beasts of the forest, Max steps into his sailboat for the return voyage home. Back inside his bedroom, he discovers a hot meal waiting. 114  Pippi Longstocking  First published in North America in 1950, Pippi Longstocking, by Astrid Lindgren, follows the rollicking adventures of a strong-spirited young girl who lives in a house at the edge of town with her horse and monkey. Since Pippi stepped onto the children’s book scene, her bold, quirky, non-conforming, uninhibited character has endeared and delighted readers, including me. However, for some, these same qualities sparked concern that Pippi, who was labelled mentally ill right from the first book launch and accused of selfishness and self- centredness, represents a poor role model for young readers. Concern stems from the disrespectful way Pippi interacts with authority--namely, teachers and police. In 2008, Pippi’s handling of two policemen sparked much debate in China (Lindgren, n.d.). Pippi’s spunky character continues to be questioned and blamed, perhaps most recently receiving her hardest blow yet. According to Birgitta Steene (2007), Pippi has had a detrimental effect on parenting in Sweden, where a local paper suggested retiring Lindgren’s Pippi because children ‘worship’, respect, and follow Pippi’s destructive example instead of the positive guidance of their parents and teachers.    The Blind Men and the Elephant  Nineteenth century American poet, John Godfrey Saxe, based his poem, The Blind Men and the Elephant, on an Indian fable. Each rhyming stanza demarcates one of the blind men’s experiences of the elephant as he attempts to describe his first impressions through touch. Because each approaches a different side or part of the animal, each presents a different conclusion. A lively argument ensues wherein each blind man thinks his depiction is the correct one. Their diverse experiences are summed up in the final stanza: all six answers are correct 115  because each contributes to the whole, yet all six are inevitably ‘wrong’ because each blind man has only ‘seen’ in part (Saxe, 1963).    Red is Best  Author Kathy Stinson paired up with illustrator Robin Baird Lewis to create Red is Best, a charming tale of a pertinacious toddler’s preference for everything red. Each time her mother suggests a piece of clothing or object, three-year-old Kelly insists on the red version. With lyrical and visual simplicity, Kelly explains why everything tastes, feels, and works better when it comes in her favourite colour. Her childlike rationales as to why red is best make perfect sense and are infectious.    Mary Poppins  The children’s novel, Mary Poppins, written by P. L. Travers and first published in 1934, tells the story of a stern but unusual nanny who blows in with her magical umbrella to rescue the glum children who live on Cherry Tree Lane. The Walt Disney film, of the same name, adapted from Travers’ story and with her consent finally granted, was released in 1964. This musical fantasy film filled with memorable tunes sung and danced by Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke delighted viewers with its innovative integration of animation and live action (Levine, 2014).    Oliver Twist  Charles Dickens’ novel Oliver Twist, published in 1838, is the rags-to-riches story of a young orphan, Oliver, and his plight to survive oppressive and impoverished conditions, first in a workhouse and then in the streets of London, where he joins a gang of street kids who 116  pickpocket in exchange for food and lodging. Rubbing shoulders with criminals, he narrowly escapes death. Unaware of his true lineage, Oliver has a half-brother who schemes to kill him in order to inherit Oliver’s portion of their father’s will. In a twist of fate and due to the kindness of an older lady friend, Oliver finds his way to the home and heart of a loving and wealthy grandfather figure. The 1968 film adaptation Oliver! is a musical adaptation of Dickens’ novel. 


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