WHEN LITERARY WORLDS COLLIDE
In an episode of “Doctor Who”, the Doctor is in his TARDIS, hurtling through the time vortex when suddenly the bow of the Titanic rips through the TARDIS wall. It’s a nice contrast – the futuristic time machine collides, literally, with the historical, early twentieth century ocean liner.
One morning, my seven-year-old was reading “Ramona’s World”, a chapter book for kids about a precocious 4th grader. I was sitting in the same room and she told me about a reference in the book to, of all things, Moby Dick. It included a fairly succinct summary of that novel’s back story: “A giant whale bites the captain’s leg off.”
She looked at me skeptically.
“That’s a real book,” I said. “That’s really in a story.”
Her eyes widened. “Do whales have teeth?”
“Whales are big. Are their teeth sharp?”
“Wow. He’s lucky that whale didn’t eat all of him. Chomp!”
Full disclosure here: I’ve never read Moby Dick. More importantly, though, neither has my daughter. She’d probably never even heard the name before today. I thought it was an interesting literary reference for Beverly Cleary to make. She could have gone with the Wimpy Kid books or Harry Potter. But…nope. She reached back to Moby Dick. I’m impressed.
I appreciate a good literary mash-up. Ramona and Ahab. The Doctor and the Titantic (The Titanic was real, not a literary creation, but he’s a TV character so I’m counting it here…No, you shut up.) Sherlock Holmes shows up on the Enterprise’s holodeck. Good stuff. Mash away!
If you’ve produced a book or TV show or a movie that lots of people are already watching, you’ve got a captive audience that already likes your product. Why not give them a taste of something new, something different, something that will stretch their imaginations in other directions?
I imagine by afternoon, my daughter had forgotten the Moby Dick reference. For now, it’s not a big deal. She’s a great reader, well above grade level, but Moby Dick is no light beach read.
But maybe, one day, when she’s old enough and in search of a new book to tackle, something will tickle the back of her brain. “Oh, yeah. Moby Dick…I’ve heard of that somewhere. Think I’ll check it out.” Then she will.
You know, like I never did.
Maybe she’ll let me borrow it when she’s done.
And we’ll both be the richer for it.