Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The worry tree and a fairy tale...

"Just because something's not magic, doesn't mean it can't be magical ..."

Early last year the big girl and I read The Worry Tree by Australian author Marianne Musgrove. She loved it (I did too) It was perfect for her at that moment in time; school was not great, friendship stuff, feeling akward, not fitting in...it was breaking my heart to watch her feel so lost.

I can't remember now where I found it, but I know I ordered it about six months before it arrived - ah well, you get what you need.

Here is the beginning of chapter one:

Juliet Jennifer Jones opened the door, stepped out of the toilet and walked straight into her little sister.

'Eight minutes and forty-seven seconds,' said Ophelia, clicking her stopwatch. 'What were you doing in there?'

'Mum!' shrieked Juliet. 'Oaf's timing me in the toilet again!'
When there was no reply, Juliet stomped out of the room.

Ophelia, also known as 'Oaf', smiled quietly to herself, pulled out a yellow pad of paper and carefully wrote 8:47 in the left-hand column. Then she tucked the notepad back into her pocket and went off to find her sister.

Juliet stormed through the house looking for an adult. She went into the lounge room but Mum had her nose in her favourite Shakespearean play.
'Give me five more minutes,' said Mum, 'and then I will speak to thee, I mean, I'll speak to you.'
Juliet rolled her eyes and went in search of Dad.

Dad was in the laundry making a model volcano and she couldn't get him to talk about anything other than lava, ash or explosions. She frowned and went in search of Nana.

Nana lived in the granny flat down the back garden but when Juliet got there, all she found was a note taped to the door of the flat: Gone to craft class. This week: macramé pot holders!

Juliet turned around, huffing. Oaf was standing behind her singing a song she'd learnt in the playground that week. It was called 'The Irritating Song' and you just kept chanting it over and over like this:

Irritating, irritating,
It's the song you'll end up hating
Just 'cos it's so irritating.
That was the first verse. The second verse went like this:
So frustrating, so frustrating,
So frustrating-strating-strating,
It's the song you'll end up hating
Just 'cos it's so [clap] frustrating.
The other twenty-two verses continued on in pretty much the same vein. Oaf really liked that song.
'Irritating, irritating ...'

You can keep reading right up to chaper two here

Anyway....behind the peeling wallpaper in her new bedroom, Juliet uncovers an old painting of a very special tree -- a Worry Tree.

Well my big girl wanted a Worry Tree too. She shut her eyes and wished very hard. I asked a very big favour of a very talented sister in law...who nervous as she was started with a blank wall and...began to paint.

Now this was no small effort, for the most part she had a sleeping baby on her back or a meddling one, sometimes two, in amongst the paint brushes. He is his mummy's boy and does not like to be out of her sight so there was nothing that I could do but bring her cups of tea and treats from the kitchen.

She began painting mid February and put the finishing touches to the wall on Friday just gone. Two months at about two hours at a time, a labour of love... not unlike my quilt!

Wanna see?
Here is Dimitri the dog. When she is worried about family, Dimitri the dog looks after us for her.

This is Wolfgang the wombat, he looks after friend worries.

 Gywneth the goat makes her feel better when she is sick.

Piers the peacock is in charge of minding worries about things she has lost.

Petronella the pig worries about school.

Delia the duck knows it's hard to get used to change - changing houses, schools, new baby sisters... 

Next to Delia is a hole in the trunk ~ sometimes she might have worries that she can't describe; her Worry Tree has a special place for those worries too.

So that the tree really is her Worry Tree it was personalised, with a little big girl shadow and a tiny bird to sing to her, and lilies - sweet lilies of the valley to ring their tiny bells and November lilies with their heavenly scent... a little bit of mossy ground cover...

she LOVES it. We are not quite sure how to thank her beautiful aunt for such a wonderful gift...but we are working on it.

That brings me to a fairy tale...
Last night, just before dinner the very wobbly tooth my big girl has be playing with for absolutely ages finally fell out! How exciting that the tree is finished... I have been plotting since I saw this post at we bloom here.   

While she was admiring her tooth I slipped downstairs and installed a fairy door at the foot of her tree between the lilies of the valley and the soft moss. Fairy doors are miniature portals to middle-earth. By installing one I am inviting fairies, pixies, gnomes and all other wee folk from their world to ours. Fairy doors are magical and cannot be opened by big people.

My big girl has been writing letters to her tooth fairy on tiny little note paper for fours years; they have such wild conversations! Tooth fairy letters need to fit in tiny envelopes like this one.

I just love fantasy and fairytales. I am quite sure my big girl suspects me but when she wakes to find her teeth gone, tiny letters, fairy dust sprinkled in trails and purpose made fairy doors at the foot of a very magical tree...well I think she loves a fairytale too.

*The Worry Tree was Marianne's first published novel and it won the Australian Family Therapists Award for Childrens Literature in 2008 and was shortlisted for the Queenland Premier's Literacy Award for Best Children's book 2008, the Adelaide Festival Award for Children's Literature 2008 and the Australian Children's Literature prize 2007....

Of course when we read it we had no idea about any of that stuff; I found out when we finished and went searching for more books written by her. Fabulously she has, have a look here.


karen said...

wow, this is fantastic! Such a beautiful and meaningful mural. When I was little my mum used to do a meditation with me before bed, at the beggining I would 'leave any worries on the worry tree'

M. Bloom said...

Such a beautiful story... and indeed, that fairy door EXACTLY matches the one in Little Mr. B's room (his is currently installed in his book shelf so the fairies may read in their spare time...) I wonder whether the fairy doors can act as a portal between the United States & Australia? ,.~`*`~.,.~`**`~.,.~`*

Narelle said...

I couldn't not comment on this! What a talented SIL you have and what a special thing for your daughter! I love it!

Melissa said...

Ohhhhhhhhhhhh that is just AMAZING! The mural is gorgeous and i LOVE the fairy door. What a lucky big girl you have. xx

W-S Wanderings said...

Oh, what a lucky girl! Such an imaginative, talented, thoughtful, and loving mama and auntie she has!

Just phenomenal.


Shannon said...

I have to agree with you all cause I love it too.
Bloom...it might act as a portal if I could just get the door open! x

lisbonlioness said...

I'm lost for words... that tree is so incredibly beautiful, I could just snatch up your SIL and commission my very own! I hope it helps your girl through everything that could possibly darken her thoughts. I'm dang sure it would do the trick for me!
Strangest thing- last week, I have picked up exactly the same little treasure chest in a charity shop which you use for fairy communication! Does the clasp on yours remind you of an owl, too? Ha, the world is such a small place!

Melissa said...

p.s. where did you get the fairy door from? I found some on etsy, but did you get it from somewhere in Oz? There is a tree in our yard which NEEDS one!!

Shannon said...

Melissa - the fairy door came from nothing but wood - an etsy shop ...orgin is Canadian. Lioness...the world is a small place.. I have no ide where I got that little box from, I have had it a very long time. I will need to look closely at the clasp when I get home! S

Marianne Musgrove said...

Hi Shannon

I'm Marianne Musgrove, author of "The Worry Tree". I was looking at my website stats and noticed a few referrals from your blog so I had to look you up. I'm so pleased to see worry trees are sprouting up in children's bedrooms around the country. And the additions to yours make it so much more personal. The fairy door is lovely!

I hope the Worry Tree animals are bringing your daughter comfort.

All good wishes,
Marianne :)

Shannon said...

Marianne, i feel so very privileged that you have visited our tree...and that you stopped to say hi.
She loves the tree and its host of animals, sometimes I see her at night touching each one and whispering in their ears.
I am so glad that you have such a delightful imagination and that you took the time to write it down and share it with us.