A classic in the making
The TALE: Tehachapi Art, Literature and Entertainment
July 3, 2021
As a child (and even as an adult), I have loved Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride at Disneyland. Found in Fantasyland along with Snow White, Sleeping Beauty and “up up and awayyyyy!” Peter Pan, situated directly across from the big carousel with King Arthur’s sword wedged into a big stone tempting passerbys, one can jump into one of Mr. Toad’s favorite cars. Riding through adventures with Mole, Rat and Badger, you are chased by cops and end at what looks like a disastrous collision with a train. But have no fear, as the ride twists and turns you back and forth, the car eventually emerges into the light of day where the ride began, with no one harmed.
Kenneth Grahame, born in Scotland in 1859, wrote “The Wind in the Willows” as bedtime stories for his son. Delightful houses and gardens and teas, with adventure along the river Thames, children and adults have delighted in the stories of Toad and his friends for well over a century.
Recently, I came across a book written by a local Tehachapi author. Gillian Blackah-Kingsley, born in the north of England with writing in her genes from her father (a journalist and newspaper editor) and great-great-grandfather (a poet), found her way to our Tehachapi mountains and has written a story about an eagle, a butterfly and a bee. “Deborah and Kite at the Big River” weaves a story of awareness, bullies, heroes and friends. Princess Deborah, heir to the throne in her hive, meets the beautiful butterfly Emeth and an eagle named Kite born as a prince. Deborah searches for her missing uncle amongst the field of big yellow flowers far from her own home.
Unlike “Wind in the Willows,” these characters do not wear clothes or live in human houses, but rather, their natural habitat which adds to the pleasure of the story. As the reader, you soar on the neck feathers of Kite, rub noses in pollen and nectar with Deborah, and feel the lightness and beauty while floating with Emeth just above abundant flowers and grasses. The author takes you to the big river and explores this unlikely friendship while moving the story from adventures to weighty decisions and future obligations.
Wonders of nature are beautifully illustrated by Nicola E. Hill on the front and back covers and sprinkled throughout the story inside. The softness and blending of color draws the reader into the story, with its yellows, blues and greens, encouraging a feast for the imagination. I couldn’t help but think how wonderful this setting would fit into California Adventure (the amusement park set next to Disneyland in Anaheim) played out in both virtual reality and physical adventure through the big redwoods, along their flowing river and amongst the lovely areas of flowers found there. I would love to see this book become a classic like The Willows, and be able to experience flying on Kite in the trees, feeling the splash of the river below, and feast on flowers with Emeth and Deborah in the gardens. Oh, I wish they would make it so! “Deborah and Kite at the Big River” is a classic in the making.
Right now you can enjoy “Deborah and Kite at the Big River” in print. Young readers and families can read a chapter a night with possibilities of great discussions about challenges, in both the natural and human realm. Read about honey bees in the back of Blackah-Kingsley’s book. Bees are amazing and needful pollinators, connectors to our ecosystem in sustaining humans, wildlife and plants. Visit The Honey Bee Society to learn more. It may inspire you to plant a summer garden in your own yards, being a partner, supporting and sustaining bees and butterflies as they struggle with climate changes along with agricultural practices and growth of cities into rural lands.
If you think about it, it is not a surprise that a bee, a butterfly and an eagle can become friends. If Mr. Toad can drive cars, nothing is impossible where the imagination is concerned. And nothing is impossible in the real world if we give a heart and hand to make it so.
Good summer reading.
*Midge Lyn’dee is a fictional character used for the purpose of entertainment though the reviews are real and sincere.