Christmas Magic

Christmas has been and gone. All that excitement leading up to just one day has ended with its usual anti climax as I have landed with a bump on my bottom, having fallen from the magic rainbow. The day was wonderful. Yes – it was magic while it lasted. Why? Mainly because my granddaughter received a letter from Santa. Yes – a real one. Delivered from Santa’s Grotto in Lapland. Her little face glowed with wonder as she read it. She has already been to Lapland and enjoyed the Christmas experience so the letter was even more magical.

As she was reading her special letter I thought – if only we could help children to hold on to that feeling of magic and wonder for as long as possible. How and when does it start to fade and disintegrate into reality? How do books and stories help children to hold onto their childhood for as long as possible? Childhood is getting shorter? Have you noticed? I still felt like a child as I approached my teens. TV did not yet rule our lives. Games played with peers – and limitless imagination – seemed to feature far more. We played outside and made up our own fun much of the time.

My granddaughter knows far more about the world than I did at her age. She shows me how to work their complex telly. Technology is implanted in her head – as it is in all children now and she laughs at my attempts to beat her at Roblox (a tablet-based game). There are times when her world and mine inhabit a different orbit – as I don’t get this obsession with screens.

How do these reflections help us, as writers, to draw children into books? You remember DOUBT (blog 20.12)? Have I banished him from my mind after telling him that he was a fake- just a bug that invaded my head? Not quite. Daily writing has been interrupted over this Christmas period. But we wait and see.

Last night I enjoyed a delightful programme on TV about the writer Michael Bond and his inspiration behind one of the most successful children’s characters of all time – Paddington Bear. I had not realised that Paddington first emerged in 1958 – over sixty years ago. What a phenomenal success! The stuff that dreams are made of. And dreams are what we writers must hold onto. Maybe we can’t all come up with that once in a lifetime hit such as Paddington or Harry Potter but we must keep our dreams alive.

Magic! As children’s writers it is all around us – all we have to do is find it.

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