Amazing Passages in Kid-Lit
I wish I could kiss this absurdist yet purely logical aside, stumbled upon while reading to my 9-year-old son. It’s so tightly written, and reminiscent of Lewis Carroll:
“By the way, I am not Elizabeth Van Vreemdeling,” I said. “My name is Audrey, and I come from another plane of existence.”
“How adorable. She doesn’t know who she is,” Uncle Bernard said.
“I certainly do know who I am,” I said. “And I never heard of Elizabeth Van Vreemdeling until the other day.”
“Then how do you account for the fact that you are she?” Uncle Bernard asked.
“I don’t know that I have to account for it,” I said. “First, I am not she, have no recollection of being her, never heard of her, and besides, she lived a long time ago.”
“So did we,” Uncle Bernard said. “And yet here we are, us.”
“But, I assume you have always been you,” I said.
“More or less,” Uncle Bernard said. “But then, all of us are any number of people as we go along, if you’d care to think about it. I mean, once you were a baby, quite different from the girl you are now, and later you will be an adult, also different. Can you remember being a little baby?”
“But you do not deny you ever were such a thing as a baby, do you?”
“Why not, since you don’t have any recollection of being one?”
“Because everyone starts out as one.”
“And how do you know that is so?”
“How do I know everyone starts out as a baby?”
“Yes. What makes you think that is so?”
“Oh, so you have observed every single person starting out as a little infant and growing up to be a child, an adolescent, and an adult?”
“No, not personally observed.”
“Then why do you think it is true?”
“Because everyone knows it.”
“So, you believe it because there is a consensus of opinion about it.”
“Excellent,” Uncle Bernard said. “Everyone who believes Audrey here is Elizabeth Van Vreemdeling, raise your paw.”
All the trolls raised their hands, Helen called from the kitchen, “I believe it,” and I saw that Molly had raised her hand too.
“It seems we have a consensus of opinion,” Uncle Bernard said.
“That is not proof,” I said. “You could all be wrong. I might just look a lot like her.”
“You have a point,” Uncle Bernard said. “Nothing is ever definite, but you have to admit there is more of a possibility that you are Elizabeth than you previously thought.”
— Excerpt from Adventures of a Cat-Whiskered Girl (2010) by Daniel Pinkwater.