If you ever wonder what makes a good book pick up a book written for kids or young adults. I’ve got my nose stuck in one right now. And it’s thick with metaphors, and of course rich in symbolism. But what got me thinking is this idea of manifestation.
I first came across this title, Howl’s Moving Castle, as a movie by the ever-awesome Hayao Miyazaki. What I didn’t know at the time was that in fact like most good movies it first comes in book form.
I’m not quite done with the book but as I go through this book by Diana Wynne Jones, I can see why Miyazaki would be compelled to turn into a feature animation. Miyazaki so far has produced great films with strong female leads like Spirited Away. And Sophie in Howl’s Moving Castle is a pretty kick ass mindimooyenh/old woman!
When we think of an old woman, we might think that they’re old, crabby, stiff, stubborn, etc, etc, etc. They don’t get a good rep. Yeah some of the old women I know can be that way but they also have this kick ass way of being. When anishnaabe mindimooyenh give out orders you better just do it. No wonder anishnaabemowin has so many commands! When I was a kid they often called kids who behaved this way – you’re like an old woman/old man. In other words, smarten up! And I was one of these kids maybe this is why I love Sophie so much in Howl’s Moving Castle.
Sophie is the eldest daughter who pretty much curses herself. She already thinks she is a disappointment to her family and a burden so much so that she becomes an old woman, and she’s happy with that. Embracing her inner old woman frees her to say what exactly she wants and helps her to realize this curse might just be a gift. For a while anyways. She might have a young spirit inside but her physical body is still old and with it comes many challenges that she adapts to. Reading the character development of Sophie is inspiring because it is well done.
One of things that happens with Sophie is that she transforms things and people into whatever she wants or wishes. In the book it’s called magic. And I think Diana Wynne Jones was transferring information to the youngest of readers. What I appreciate the most of children and youth is their fantastic gift of a huge imagination. If you want to reach kids and inspire them then write a fantasy book. Line it with rich symbolism and metaphors that will leave them thinking and full of wonder. Or write it for me because I’m just a big kid.
It’s given me lots to think about. What about our thoughts? Do our thoughts actually manifest? If we think that we’re useless or a burden, do we become that? There’s lots of evidence out there that supports these ideas. Just google manifestation, you’ll see what I mean. Also, as an adult, we need to be careful on how we label children and youth. Because more than once Sophie heard so many negative things about the eldest child that she began to accept her fate. There’s lots of research done about the negative effects on children and youth, just look up bully. In the adult world it’s called lateral violence and you can watch any political debate or any race for any political office because it’s filled with it.
As I said, I’m not finished reading it but I know it will end well. I have seen the movie. And like a true contrary, I do things this way. But like a writer I must read the original and inspiration. If anything, I’m hoping that I will get further insight on how to break free from the curse that I have placed on myself. I will let you know how it goes. Miigwech/Thank you.