When I first started out writing children’s books, my intention, maybe misguided, was not to teach lessons, or discuss in children’s terms, eternal truths, or give examples of fairness. No, my intention was just to give joy. Joy to both the child listening and the parent or guardian reading the books. If a child sees his mother laughing and enjoying the book, it will hopefully add so much more to the experience. They will want to read these adventures again and again just for the sheer joy of it.
Joy is boundless, free, unifying, full of life and beauty and jest. Joy is as hard to explain as is beauty. The old adage; “I might not be able to explain beauty, but I know it when I see it.” This applies to joy as well. Joy is internal, and as C S Lewis stated in his marvelous book, surprising. And the world has almost stomped it out unless you are very young. Children, when encountering something joyful, are bound to say with glee; “Do it again!’ and “again.” I think God, in his infinite wisdom, sees the sun rise, and says with joy; “Do it again!”. Thank God. A sense of joy and wonder can keep us all very young.
Max and his friends found joy in racing down a hill, in eating left over ice cream, in flying on mystical butterflies, in being in an adventurous life. Joy is like laughter, it is contagious, and children are so sensitive to joy. It is part of their spiritual DNA.
Joy occasionally breaks out into the world, such as it did in 1824 when Ludwig van Beethoven finished the final movement in the most famous symphony ever produced, his 9th. And the final movement was called “Ode to Joy” of course. The premier of the symphony took place in Vienna. The audience went ecstatic even though the symphony was barely rehearsed.
The lyrics of “Ode to Joy” are a modified version of the poem by Fredrich von Schiller.
The poem begins:
O friends, no more of these sounds!
Let us sing more cheerful songs.
More songs full of joy!
Joy, bright spark of divinity