I just finished reading The Tale of Despereaux and really enjoyed it. I plan on writing a proper review and got to wondering if I should warn people that it has some less-than-sterile events in it. People die and the rats are truly evil and so on.
But then evil is necessary if we are to see the good. Can we really appreciate the light if we've never experienced darkness. (This btw is one of the underlying themes of The Tale of Despereaux.)
This got me thinking about last year's Milwaukee Catholic homeschool conference where Nancy Brown gave a talk on Chesterton and the case for fairy tales. Chesterton often made a connection between Christianity and fairy tales.
So many people today want sterile stories, homogenized stories, stories filled only with positive, happy events. No conflict, no evil, no fallen characters. Is this a good thing? I don't think so.
First, I think we have to ask ourselves why fairy tales have been around for so many centuries. Did you know that there are 700 versions of Cinderella? It is a universal story that is found in every culture.
Fairy tales show us that, yes, it can be a cruel, cruel world. I mean, come on, little children being thrown into an oven by a horrible witch after being abandoned by their father is not a happy event. But, wait, there is a happy ending. Fairy tales also show there is hope with courage.
No need for courage when you live in a happy, care-free, sterile world.
Fairy tales teach us that virtue wins over evil. They teach us that we can conquer any foe when we meet him head on.
Yep, I think The Tale of Desperaux will get two thumbs ups when I write that review.