Ah, youth, childhood ... it's a time of wonder and magic. Everything has the potential of an adventure. Sticks become swords, boxes become castles, and the ugly hand-me-down sack dress with a huge stain on the front? Well, that's a magnificent ball gown.
But alas! This time is fleeting, and children themselves all to often are in a hurry to be a "grown-up" and don't realize that they will lose so much when they get there.
I've mentioned that The Ankulen is about imagination, about sacrifice, about friends and family ... but it's also a farewell to childhood.
You see, even though Anka and Anku never lose their imaginations (unless of course a Polystoikhedron gets involved, but we're not here to talk about that) and they therefore never lose their ability to see life as a great adventure. But somewhere between the ages of ten and twelve, something changes.
It is no coincidence that this is also the time when most Anka and Anku are now able to string their adventures into words and sentences, and capture them with pen and paper. They now spend more time writing and less time play-acting. Most write stories, others plays. A few are artists and draw instead. (Artists often start the earliest.)
Slowly but surely they spend less and less time IN their imagination, but that doesn't mean they aren't using it. Nay, quite the contrary. Now they have finally begun using it for the purpose they were given it. By the time they are sixteen or eighteen, many don't go in anymore at all. This is not a sad thing, it's just how it is.
Jen lost her imagination at the age of seven. Before the transition time. By the time she finally gets it back, she's fifteen. She was denied the transition time, but she was not denied one last brilliant adventure. That is why I say that this book is also a farewell to childhood.
I think it's also somewhat a farewell to my own childhood. When I started plotting it, I was only fifteen. I still went outside every day and made up stories outside with my younger cousins. I was more "I need to write this down" oriented than they were, but I still was giving myself a new name and frolicking around the yard pretending I was a fairy, a queen, a dragon princess ... or even a fifteen-year-old girl who had lost her imagination.
But as I finished writing Sew, and got it published, I stared changing my outlook. My imagination was no longer just a fun place to play, but a serious business. Oh I still go in from time to time, (I'm babysitting some cousins tomorrow, so a visit to Rizkaland is scheduled) but I now spend more of my time writing ... not just imagining.