As I am frequently engaged in conversations regarding matters of great importance, and even, if I may say, some level of triviality, with my friends and cohorts from The Farm, I am often asked questions such as: Have you read the stories about us? Are they suitable for children, young and old? Do they convey messages of a positive or inspiring sort? As one might expect there is quite some interest in the books here on The Farm. Nearly everyone has become aware the stories are based around our humble abode. But having played a part in the events recorded in the stories, at times my answer sounds something like this: "They, as with our lives here on The Farm, are adventurous, subtly philosophical stories with messages of friendship, courage, hope and love." At least, this characterization is something many of us try to live up to. Even so, I am not the author, but after collaborating for so long together and knowing as closely him as I do, I believe his description might be more or less akin to this: "The stories embody everything one father wished to say to his young daughter on her birthday.". I have never asked him such a question directly. However, when we first met, this was his intention in chronicling the story of life here on The Farm, to give a special gift of all he believed he had learned over the course of his life, a parable of sorts, something his daughter could have with her always.
To be more specific regarding the subtleties of the stories, I wish to offer a few examples. As my cohorts and I have always endeavored to uphold, there is a strong message of civility, of being loving, caring and kind to each other, and there are other, related themes: if you see suffering or injustice, seek to bring things to right, regardless of your size or age, move mountains to help a friend in need, because you can. Be curious, be persistent, be courageous, and there is nothing more powerful than love and a good heart.
Books are like magic. One's eyes may trace over some squiggly shapes on a page and thereby become absorbed in another world, perhaps another time and place. Books with inspiring stories and messages touching on the little truths about this world can be invaluable.
I do hope I have been of help in answering the question posed in this week's topic. And to conclude, I wish to suggest any story, real or imagined, with the themes and messages I described above has the potential to fill a dim heart with needed hope, the very thing which drives us onward when faced with the adversities life inevitably has to offer. A positive story may act as the one kind word or the one kind action having the power to turn someone's dark day to light. As the ducks here on The Farm are rather too fond of reminding me, a poet in the author's world named Emily Dickinson once wrote,
"Hope is the thing with feathers,
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all"
At times I wish she had written hope had four legs and fur, but alas; there must be many other poets out there...
R. S. Markel has invited Mr. Abselard, a dear porcine friend, confidant, and resident of The Farm, to share a few thoughts on a wide smattering of topics gleaned from the pig's venerable tradition of their morning conversations. We do hope you enjoy this new addition.
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Photograph by Tracy Burke
Welcome. I am a writer and illustrator of novels for young (and young at heart) readers who have a passion for exploring fantastic places, impossible events, and the magic and mysteries of our world. Please feel free to read a bit about my work and peruse the character essays, interviews, and illustrations. I do hope you enjoy this small glimpse into the world of Lillybeth and Hinsberth.
"I am so sorry Mr. Hinsberth. I almost forgot — you are real."
The Edges of Things