I feel like a bit of a fraud when it comes to taking credit for Big Red Lollipop.
I was just reviewed by Betsy Bird, one of the top bloggers in the blogosphere and she said such lovely things about Big Red Lollipop, and yet it’s left me squirming.
For the longest while I used to tell the story orally, from my point of view–me–’Sana’–the bratty LITTLE sister!
In fact the first time I told it was opposite Robert Munsch at the Eden Mills literary festival.
But I only told the first two thirds of the story because that’s all I had–to the point where I scurried after the triangle that my older sister Bushra threw across the room. That was the end of the story.
Oh, how it made people laugh!
But it wasn’t a complete story. I had a beginning and middle, but no resolution. For the longest while I tried to find an end to the story, and then I thought back to what had actually happened. How had I grown out of my selfishness? And that’s when I remembered how years later, when I came running home from school waving a birthday invitation, and my mom was telling me I had to take my little sister Sophia to the birthday party I was invited to, I remembered how my older sister Bushra had intervened, and told her not to make me take her.
It was touching! And a good resolution. So I put it in and I’ve been telling that story for over ten years.
In fact once I told that story at a bookstore event with Bushra in the audience. She laughed louder than everyone else! And when I was done she came up to me and said, “Wait a minute! You never gave me that big green lollipop!”
I said, “I know, but I should have.”
Then, after THAT we were friends.
I wish I had thought of giving her the big green lollipop I received in the loot bag, but selfish thing that I was, I didn’t.
My real atonement to her was writing the story.
And I wish I was the genius that had thought about telling the story from Rubina’s/Bushra’s point of view–but I didn’t. My editor at Viking, Catherine Frank came up with that gem of an idea. She was right when she said that Rubina/Bushra was a more sympathetic character!
It’s really funny.
Over the years I’ve used my version of the story as a springboard in workshops to teach story structure. I tell the beginning and middle–up to the point where I scurried after Bushra’s lollipop, and then ask the workshop attendees to come up with an end.
I’ve had some very interesting endings. Mostly they figure that somehow I, “Sana”/me has to somehow pay Bushra back with a lollipop, but they don’t come up with the ending that I did.
The weirdest ending someone came up with was in Whitehorse, Yukon, where I was doing the storywriting workshop for a group of adults.
One lady’s resolution was that in skipping along with the triangle piece of lollipop (all that’s left of it) Sana trips and the triangle jams into her cheek and the blood from her cheek is like the red of the lollipop and that was some kind of an atonement for the stealing of the lollipop.
I just looked at the lady blankly for a moment. Then I closed my mouth and said, “Um… this is a CHILDREN’S story.”
Seldom have the workshop attendees ever used the little sister even though I’ve always mentioned her at the beginning of the story.
I have plans to develop a presentation on point of view revolving around the two versions of the story. Teachers are always trying to teach empathy and what better way than by point of view?
My version of the story is about trying to resist greed and temptation–and failing, Rubina’s is about forgiveness and grace.