Friday, May 28, 2010

Continuing: capturing our culture, folk songs in children's stories

Continuing the discussion about my deliberate inclusion of folk songs in my stories as part of capturing our culture. I do this again in the book Every Little Thing Will Be All Right, a collection of stories published by Carlong Publishers:

Safiya's Dance: after Safiya has challenged the entire extended family with what appears to be her willfulness, there is a 'happy ending', with Grandpa (who always championed her) singing:

Moonshine tonight, come mek we dance and sing
Moonshine tonight, come mek we dance and sing
Me deh rock so, yu deh rock so, under Banyan tree
Me deh rock so, yu deh rock so, under Banyan tree.

Again this is one of my favourite folk songs, and a Banyan Tree, for me, is one of the most majestic trees.

Louisa Jane and the Street of Fine Old Houses: the protagonist is called Louisa Jane, which we learn afterwards is a name of some significance as it is connected to the folk song Jane and Louisa Will Soon Come Home. Louisa Jane lives with her Granny while her parents are in England. Granny sings the song Jane and Louisa ... when things are tough, and also when they are fine.
This song brings back such joyful images of childhood for me. Although the images are not clear - floating, dancing, whirling, laughing with other children? the song produces such a feeling of pure delight, that it had to be in one of my stories.

Will the inclusion of these songs add any value to our children's fiction? I do hope so. Hopefully they will lead to the understanding of the beauty of gentle songs.
Everywhere, we so need to promote our gentler sides in a world gone mad, impressed that it has made such innovations in such a short time, that it can do anything without thought for the consequences. However, we are discovering that this isn't quite working. If songs in a children's story can let any one, or two, or three children, leaders of the world of tomorrow, discover a gentler side, then that will be good.

Preaching? No, I don't think. My characters are as subject to human frailities as anyone else. So even they may not quite notice the effect of song, although I hope that they do.

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