Tag Archives: story

The Green Book

The Green BookTITLE: The Green Book
AUTHOR: Jill Paton Walsh
PUBLISHER: Farrar, Strauss and Giroux
PUB DATE: 1982
DISASTER: Unspecified climate disaster
SECONDARY THREAT: Survival on a new planet
TIME SINCE DISASTER: None

I hadn’t meant to segue into escaping to space when I started writing about Parable of the Sower, but sometimes that’s how things go. You find a thread and you follow it. And that thread lead me back to a book written for children that I read ages ago.

Father said, “We can take very little with us.”

Pattie and her family are among the last people evacuated from a dying Earth. The wealthy have already fled to more promising distant planets, while Pattie’s ship is old, small, and ill-fitted for exodus. Each family could bring only a very few things essential to survival, plus one book each.

The Green Book itself is small–only 69 pages of mid-sized text and meant for readers age 8 through 12. On the surface it’s about how Pattie and the other travelers adapt to a new planet that may or may not support life. The language is simple, the story is simple, but between the lines there is so much more:

  • Nods to socio-economic inequality in the conditions of the ship and the unspoken recognition of those left behind
  • References to climate change in comments about old photographs
  • The impact of selfishness when trying to build a community
  • How often children see more, feel more, and are willing to take more risks than the adults around them who are set in their ways

But truly, the strongest through-line is the power of story, how essential it is–for entertainment, bonding, and who we become.

A Million Shades of White

Yesterday, NYC Midnight announced the winner of their 2014 Flash Fiction Challenge, A Million Shade of White by Swati Daftuar. The challenge had three parameters:

  • Genre: Open
  • Location: An iceberg
  • Object: A lighter

According to her blog, the author struggled with the story, with the prompts–grasping and coming up empty over and over again before the first words came to her. Oh, but when they did…

I heard the world fall apart.

Her story speaks of the end, of our arrogance in believing that one grand gesture could change our course, that one person’s spectacle could make a difference. It won’t. It can’t.

What might is the very process she used to create her deceptively simple parable–to look at the constraints we have been given and to open ourselves to what they may reveal. To remain still and silent as we reach, and reach, and reach again, until what is ours to write or make or build or do reveals itself in a whisper. And when it does, to stand up, to get to work, and to share what we’ve done and what we’ve learned.