Six characters morph into one, the lessons become implied, and children with disabilities find inspiration.
Margaret Welwood brings us a preview of her delightful book, Marie and Mr. Bee. This is an interesting book, which will delight and intrigue its young audience.
One of the fun aspects of writing stories is watching your characters grow and change from how you’d envisioned them, and—whether you’re an outliner or not—seeing the plot grow with them.
“Young readers will be so busy turning pages they won’t even realize they’re taking in some of life’s most valuable truths.”
Teaching responsible behaviour
Marie and Mr. Bee didn’t start out this way. In fact, the main character actually started out as six girls. Would-have, Could-have and Should-have—three lazy and very hungry sisters in a cold, dirty house—were rescued by their diligent opposites from the other side of the forest, Will-do, Can-Do and Play-now. It’s trendy now to have the moral understated; children are smart, we’re told, and they will infer it. But the sisters in the original story clubbed you over the head with the moral and dragged you off to the Cave of Responsible Behaviour.
What does kindness look like?
And so the story morphed until Marie emerged with her wheelchair. Marie does whatever she can on her own. Where she needs help her forest friends are there for her, making accommodations for her disability without ever mentioning it. Marie is an equal partner in work and play—kind, diligent and joyful. But, like the rest of us, she is also prone to listen to the wrong voice now and then. Through Marie’s experience, young readers learn about “the power of choice, the treasure of friendship, the capabilities of ‘disabled’ children, what kindness looks like.”