Two Januarys ago The Sunday Age introduced a segment for children’s letters called Summer Kids Your Say.
The first respondent was a child aged 10 (that would put her in, what, Grade 4?) commenting on a short story:-
“Creeks and rivers represent ideas, bridges are connections to new horizons, angels are messengers…”.
I was thinking that this kid’s brain should be plasticised and mounted in a museum of natural history when I came across: “My mum thinks…”. Aah, mummy. An academic-stage mother who can’t resist sticking her scholarly beak into her child’s reading matter. Especially if it proves to the philistines next door how clever and cultured her little Antigone is.
ANTIGONE? Yes, that’s correct. Mum must be a classics professor because Sophocles was the last person to use that name, in 442BC.
Antigone’s metaphors were a bit of a mouthful and so was her polysyllabic hyphenated name.
Another child with a hyphenated name used “suspenseful” in her letter. Is that a bit rich for an unassisted 8-year-old? Perhaps not.
“Just imagining all the adrenalin running through their heads”, wrote a 12-year-old. Usually only a heroin addict would imagine that reading The Faraway Tree – or a child sporting prodigy who injects her own steroids.
The final contributor opened with: “I believe in angels. I am not sure if I believe in their esoteric ability to take on the molecular form of beings on earth…” I went to fetch the kerosene but just as I was about to set the newspaper alight, I noticed: “From a very old kid at heart”.
Antigone’s mother finally coming clean? A genius child ghost writing for a stupid parent?
The true geniuses in this troupe would have been grateful for the alternative forum in which to express their ideas. Talking like that in front of less gifted peers would almost certainly have led to a playground lynching:-
Ms Caldecott (PE teacher): “Who is that hanging by their neck from the monkey bars?”
Class (all together): “Oh, that’d be Antigone!”
Last summer The Age encouraged children with the demographic bias of Malvern East, Brunswick West and Northcote to review the film Megamind.
I assume its director and screenwriter were immune to the scathing criticism from journalists and idiotic comments from people emerging from cinemas but it would have been interesting to see their reaction after reading this from a 10-year-old Orson Welles:-
“Having a story starting in the middle and reviewing whatever happened 10 years earlier is a good style of scriptwriting BUT NEEDS WORK” [!].