Monthly Archives: May 2016

The Magic of Belief

In Sebastian Mescgenmoser’s charming book “Learning to Fly,” a penguin shows up at the protagonist’s house claiming he flew there. He only fell from the sky, he says, when the other birds told him he shouldn’t be able to fly.

The protagonist says, “but surely penguins can’t fly.” Whoever, he decides to take the penguin at its word and try to teach it to fly. He straps it to a rocket, a kite and fires it off like an arrow using a bow. But the penguin repeatedly crashes to the ground.

Finally, towards the end of the book, a penguin flock improbably flies overhead and our beloved penguin jumps and flies off to join them.

The moral is to teach kids to believe in themselves and their abilities, I guess. My nature, I suppose, is to question everything… For while my Neighbours (and Don, who presented the book), all found it to be a wonderous tale about someone discovering the power of themselves, my first thought was to say, “why didn’t he get the penguin to swim for him?”

I mean– swimming is where penguins really shine. They are beautiful in the water. Fast, agile, gliding like a whip through the current despite their clumsiness on land.

Can we make the penguin be something it’s not? Penguins can’t fly. Penguins swim. Why not emphasize the natural strengths of the penguin rather than telling it to just “believe in itself and its dreams will come true”?

Perhaps an unnecessary criticism. Perhaps unnecessary negativity. But hey, it’s a free write and I can say whatever I want.image