Hope for the Future

Last night I finished reading Hope for the Flowers by Trina Paulus (which you can also find on my Recommended Reading page, or click the image below) to Wilf and Bert, aged 7 and 4 respectively. Wilf had been nagging me all holiday as we had a rather longer break than expected in the continuation of the story. In our family, with its many modern complications, the six weeks have flown past before we could even register them properly, and the story has suffered.

So, we picked it up again last night, and finished it off for good measure.

It held both children captivated, which surprised me somewhat. Not because it isn’t a good story – it is – but because for today’s child growing up in a world of special effects and super-animation, the illustrations are very simple, pretty much monochrome but for the yellow, and the vocabulary is, in places, a little more sophisticated than we tend for some reason to expose our children to in the 21st century. This has been my experience many a time, actually, as I have screwed up my maternal enthusiasm and suggested reading to them all something along the lines of Five Children and It, only to have them lose interest quite quickly in the face of the antiquated language.

So, Hope for the Flowers held their attention entirely, in its gentle telling of the story of Stripe and Yellow, two caterpillars and their journey through the lifecycle. But it isn’t about caterpillars or butterflies. Or natural lifecycles. It is so very much deeper than that, and it is a story that even the majority of we adults struggle to appreciate. It is a story of sheep; or of conveyor belts; or the rat-race; or of blindly following the ‘norm’ without stopping to question. It is a beautiful analogy of the benefits of leaving behind the material world in favour of the spiritual.

Rather synchronously (which is something that no longer surprises me much), Jem read a story on BBC News this morning, about the overwhelming, and ever-growing demand for storage facilities. It would seem that rather than throw things away or replace them, we have become more attached than ever to our possessions. What we cannot fit in our homes, we now pay to have kept for us – in some cases for decades – rather than sell, give or throw away. It would seem that we have now blurred the boundary so very much between who we are and what we own that we now believe that we are what we own. Not that it hasn’t been a long time coming: we are one of the only countries in the world to actually speculate on something as intrinsically necessary as the roof over our heads, and when items such as cars – once simply a method of getting us from one place to another – become a symbol of our importance and status in the world, we are sending our children a very dubious message indeed.

So the message to be found in Hope for the Flowers is one that I am incredibly grateful to have discovered presented in such a way as to have a gentle but profound impact on my children, to aid me in my quest to teach them that it is what we are that is important. After all, if you lost everything tomorrow, would you die?

I doubt it.

But I’d wager you’d feel an awful lot lighter, almost like a butterfly…?


8 responses to “Hope for the Future

  • Morvah

    I love books like this – Your review reminded me of snuggling together in a big armchair reading Michael Ende’s ‘Momo’, which was our favourite when my daughter was growing up. (Google it, wiki has a mouthwatering precis) Probably more suitable for your older boys. Do you and Jem ever get time to read stories to each other? Delightful treat!

    • erisian

      I’ll look it up right away – thanks Morvah! I’m always on the look-out for good children’s books.
      In our house, I sit right back on Bert’s bed with him under one arm and Wilfy under the other. We’ll have to make room for Teddy soon…! (His stories are with daddy and rather less sophisticated 😉 )
      As for me and Jem – not so far, but I look forward to the day. 🙂 xx
      (Just looked it up – it looks delightful).x

  • Una McGurk

    Thanks for the wonderful review!
    My name is Una McGurk and I work with Trina Paulus the author/illustrator of Hope for the Flowers. I’ll be sure to share your blog entry with her today. If you’re on facebook, hope you’ll “like” our page at: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Hope-for-the-Flowers/35443736622 (I’ll share your Hope for the Flowers related Blog entry on our site)

    Also, autographed/personally inscribed copies of Hope for the Flowers are available online directly from Trina via her website http://www.hopefortheflowers.org

    • AliceStrology

      Una, I have only just found your comment – I’m so sorry. It went straight into the Spam box for some reason…
      Anyway, as I’m sure you have seen, I have had a lovely comment from Trina. I am so glad it reached you and for your responses. Thank you.
      I shall be sure to visit your facebook page, too.
      Thank you again for leaving me a message. x

  • trina paulus

    My friend Una sent me your delightful blog entry. I was very moved by it. Thank you for sharing it. It is hard to believe that little Stripe And Yellow have reached so many hearts over their 39 years of extended Caterpillar life as they journeyed to become their full butterfly selves. Thank you! Tears were coming to my eyes by the end of your lovely tribute. Thank you so for writing.

    I am the author and illustrator and I want to send my greetings to your dear children, Wilf and Bert, as well as yourself. I’m very grateful for this gift of hope in my life. We are getting ready to celebrate Hopes 40th anniversary. I will let you know when some, we hope, exciting events take place. I live in Montclair New Jersey. Where do you live? My website is http://www.HopeFortheFlowers.org. E-mail address, inhopealways@Gmail.com.

    • erisian

      Dear Trina, what a lovely surprise! I’m so glad you are happy with my words and reaction. We all loved your book so much. In fact, on hearing about this, my elder two Humphrey and Arthur (aged 11 and 9) have asked if I’ll read it to them, too – and so the message goes on…

      Sadly for me (in terms of your anniversary celebrations), I live in England, in Norfolk to be precise, but perhaps I can live in Hope that Yellow and Stripe will cross the Pond some time?

      I am so happy to hear from you. Thank you for taking the time to write to me.

  • Una McGurk

    No worries, Alice 🙂 I also added this blog entry on our blogroll section of the Hope for the Flowers website @ http://www.hopefortheflowers.org/blogroll.html

    Thanks for helping to spread the message of Hope!
    In peace & hope always,

  • Una McGurk

    Hi Alice,
    We have a new hope project that we are working on ~ it would be wonderful if you would consider joining the Hope team and spreading the word…here’s a link: http://kck.st/yAoyrw

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