What she means:
The Iron Giant is such a vastly overlooked cartoon classic which didn't get nearly enough recognition despite its originality and its approach to mature topics in a way that was accessible to a young audience. From the way Brad Bird handled the villain, a man driven mad by the paranoia inflicted on him by government propaganda, to his clear and unflinching anti-war message, The Iron Giant encouraged children to question authority and be suspicious of the media we are spoon fed, and I will always wonder whether there were more sinister forces at work which kept the film from reaching a wider audience. Also, I am so thirsty for Dean McCoppin, it is embarrassing.
One day, the wise woman of the village called all the children to her house.
She sat with them in a circle, and they ate and sang together until the moon was high in the sky. The children had never been allowed to stay up as late. They were excited. Their tongues prickled with the spicy soup that the wise woman had given them.
When the fire was just a low glimmer of ash and wood anymore, the woman lifted her hand.
The children that had been laughing and chattering fell quiet.
The woman said: “Show me the palm of your hand, and tell me only the truth. Swear on it.”
“I swear,” said the children. Some whispered it, some barely got out the words, but all of them were shivering because they felt something old and large reach for their hearts. They didn’t know if it was the soup, the woman’s power, the moon, or just their own awe before the world and the night that made them speak truthfully.
The wise woman lowered her hand. She looked at one after the other. Her eyes were warm as the fire, dark as the moon’s shawl above.
“Speak what you wish to raise in your life.”
Everyone was silent for a long time.
The woman turned her head towards the first boy.
“Family,” the boy mumbled. Then, a bit louder, clutching his empty soup bowl, he looked at everyone with honey golden eyes, wide with kindness. “Mine and others.”
The old woman said nothing. Only her head moved from then on, and it pointed to the next, the next, one after the other.
And the children spoke.
While the children said their words, the old woman drank them in. She let then settle into her memory, anchored them where they were safe.
One day, when the children were of age, she would ask them again.
Some would have changed. If they had lost their path, she would remind them of their old words, of the dreams their hearts had forgotten about. That there was a way forward, in whatever direction it may run. If they had found another way for themselves, she would gift them their once-adored word still, so that they had something to always return to and would know that once feeling something did not mean that you wouldn’t ever feel something else.
And if the children still chose the same way, then it would be their time to raise something.
So the children spoke their words. Only two were left now and before the woman could turn her head, they spoke at the same time.
The other children shivered. For a long time, nothing moved. Even the fire seemed frozen in the moment. Finally, the woman tilted her head.
“What do you mean?” she asked the two. She hadn’t asked anyone else.
The first child stood up, hands curled into fists, eyes burning. “If anyone gets in my way, I’ll bring all of the world down on them!”
“I’m scared,” whispered one of the children.
The woman looked at the other child, whose eyes were calm as the dark sky above. “And you?”
“Myself,” said the child once more. “Nothing more and nothing less.”
The first child laughed. “That’s stupid. Just yourself? What can you do with that! When I’m older, the world won’t stand a chance against me.”
Before the second child could speak, the old woman stirred. She reached out for the child’s fingers and took them into her own. The other children watched, wary and confused.
“Before you raise any of your dreams,” said the old woman, a smile on her fire-warmed lips, “I want all of you to remember this.” And when the child who stood glared at her, she took its hand as well until it sat and put its head against her shoulder.
“Raise yourself, children, and you will stand against anything. Raise yourself, and the whole world will rise with you. Hell and heaven and every fear will fall if you hold yourself upright and look to the stars. And if you cannot rise anymore, stand. Stand. The horizon has been born for thousands of years, every morning and every night. Admire its strength, when you are weak, but do not forget:
You are the dawn. You are the dusk.
The world will follow. Raise all that you are, before anything else.”
So her strong young mind continued to grow, nurtured by the voices of all those authors who had sent their books out into the world like ships on the sea. These books gave her a hopeful and comforting message: You are not alone.
“he clutched wildly at the neck of his feathered steed.” Wood engraving by Adolfo Bongini, based on the artwork of Carlo Chiostri, for the children’s book, Le Avventure di Pinocchio, published in 1902.
Yes, we know. He’s been dead for more than a century, but that hasn’t stopped him — or more accurately, his collaborators — from publishing a children’s book, called The Purloining of Prince Oleomargarine. It’s based on 16 pages of notes, handwritten by Twain and discovered in an archive, in Berkeley, Calif.
Philip and Erin Stead took it from there; the Caldecott Award-winning author-illustrator duo picked up Twain’s trail and finished the story.
“It was never entirely clear to us if there was never an ending, or if Twain just never got around to writing it down,” Philip Stead says. “That said, we had to make a book, so we had to provide an ending to the story.”
So the Steads left their own mark on the story, changing some of the original’s magical animals — and making the young hero, Johnny, black.
“Lest a nightmare should come to the fairies’ cousin twice removed on their mother’s side.” Color process illustration by Dugald Stewart Walker for his children’s book, Dream Boats and other Stories, published in 1920.