Book Review: The Invisible Boat and the Molten Dragon April 20 2018
One genuinely marvelous thing about this second book in Eric Mueller’s Invisible Boat series is the steady stream of pictures of how nature looks behind the curtain of beauty we see. The creatures and the palaces, and the gardens and the light, are all resplendent with imaginations that ring true and lift the heart with a feeling of what’s happening on this living Earth of ours!
These pictures are charming, sometimes breathtaking, and ofttimes startling. Through these images, we are drawn closer to the earth. The suffering and the joy of the living beings convinces us, without thinking about it, that there is a lot at stake and a lot of life to be lost if we do not get more conscious about the complexity of the many lives that share the earth with robustness and vigorous energy. I am inclined to believe that young people come with their own picture memories of their lives before birth. Fairy tales help them to weave the pictures of fairy tales with their own minds as they adjust to life on Earth.
Children adjust best when they take the world in through the pictures they make in their own imaginations. Hence, storytelling is at the heart of Waldorf education. A recently published article about memory indicates that studies have proven what we already know: stories help us to remember.
Mueller’s story is remarkably memorable. The pictures are complete, stimulating, and truthful. They constitute a loving tribute to the elemental population in and on our planet. The story is also compelling. The adventure is gripping and the risks high. Three children are asked to help dwarfs rescue elementals from the extremes to which humans have subjected them. These youngsters repeatedly feel “in over their heads” and helpless in the face of the enormity of the tasks they are asked to do. Many children feel this way in our world, about even ordinary things. Many of us grown-ups feel helpless about many things these days. The simple courage and the deep commitment the three heroes of the tale display are moving and inspiring.
Both of Eric Mueller’s books stand on their own, but the two together make a fantastic duet! In the first book, the children must rescue the water beings from a deathlike doom. In this new book, the challenge is to quench the fire dragon — much more dangerous and demanding. The author completed the writing of his powerful tale a year ago. What a prophetic tale it turned out to be with the untamable raging fires in the West earlier this year!
Reading books like these make us feel prepared somehow for natural uproars and disasters. The pictures give us hope that the elemental world is only trying to collaborate with human beings toward a creative tension that uses the robustness of the forces of the Earth to rejuvenate itself and to enjoy together the beauty that so generously and so steadfastly pours out from the noble Earth!
Give a youngster this gift of strong pictures, lively adventures, and magic as only the beings of the earth can muster! You’ll hope the youngster in your life asks you to read it out loud to them so that you get to read and enjoy it too!