I have had plenty of fun downloading Kindle books recently, and one of the books I found is A Dragon in the kitchen! (Monkey Dog and Friends). It’s a quirkly little ebook about a couple of stuffed animals and I was impressed with the extent of personality attributed to each of the characters. The pictures are photographs of the stuffed animals.
I started reading it to my four year old only to have my seven year old move over from across the room and listen too. They both started trying to guess what the mysterious dragon in the kitchen was. (The younger guessed right.)
When we finished reading the book I posted a review on Amazon.com, including that we hoped to see future adventures of the animals, because the last pages had hinted that there were more to come. A few days later found a message from the author! He said he had originally made up the story for his nephews and niece. He wrote:
My nephews and niece loved it but I didn’t think about actually publishing the story. It came from some stuffed animals I had. When the kids moved from England to Denmark and then I moved to here, San Diego I used to do silly voices on webcam as the characters and have the animals “talk”. Monkey Dog even sang a birthday song for my eldest nephew!
Mr. Belcher’s nephews and niece are to old for Monkey Dog now, but he says he has more stories coming for those interested in the ebooks.
So now we’re awaiting future stories about the stuffed animals, but I’m also thinking about the wonderful networks of communication like stuffed animals talking to one another and helping people connect with younger relatives. or ebooks capturing old stories and forming new ways to publish.
I’ve thought about inviting my children to write a book about their stuffed animals illustrated with photographs but at the same time I’m a little nervous to do so. I’m scared that it would encourage them to think of their play as a performance and the focus would shift. I’ll wait to suggest the idea until they are older and less inclined to play for their own sake. I find myself thinking about stories in general that interaction of play and communication. Is play practice at communicating? Is communication another form of play? What role do stories have in our lives? Are stories just a more adult way of play? Or are they play with the purpose of reaching out to others?