Monday, September 12, 2011

The value of story telling by Leo Leoni

I'm gonna stick on the philosophical bent for another day. What is the value of storytelling? Does it put food on the table? Does it get the dishes done? Does it make money? Mostly, no.

My favorite explanation of the value of story comes in, of course, the form of a story. When I was a wee little kid, my sister Jan and I had a picture book called  Frederick. It was about a mouse who sat around dreaming the summer away while his mouse brothers and sisters worked to store away food. When they accused him, he said, “I gather sun rays for the cold dark winter days." On other pages and on other days, Frederick gathers colors and words. Winter comes. The mice eat the grain. So does Frederick. But the grain finally runs low. Frederick gets them through their despair by sharing all he stored. He tells them of the sun, of the colors of summer. He does this with words. He tells stories.

The author, designer and illustrator, Leo Leoni, gathered his own colors and words and told this story. It's still a remarkable book all these years later. The pictures are all simple paper cut-outs. The pages are mostly white. A few mice. A few words. More like a cave painting than a video game. Beautifully stark.

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