Have you ever looked back on something and realized it meant much more than you thought it did at the time? I had a moment like that this morning. When I woke up, my mom said, “Dakota has something exciting to tell you. He’s been going crazy waiting for you to get up.” I found my twelve-year-old brother and asked him what it was. He proceeded to read to me the letter I had helped him write last year to his favorite author, Brian Jacques, who writes a medieval fantasy series starring talking animals. The books are kind of like a more serious, complex Disney Robin Hood (you know, the talking animals swordfighting). I adored the books when I was Dakota’s age, and was more than willing to help him with this letter he wrote. In it, he suggested a plot line to Mr. Jacques, saying he thought it would make a good novel. I helped him with the plot, since I’m a writer, and he sent off the letter. I guessed nothing would ever come of it–it was just fan mail to this guy, right?
That’s why Dakota blew my socks off when he read me his letter and then held up Mr. Jacques’ newest book, Eulalia!. He said, “The plot’s completely different, but some of the scenes are the same, and he uses the same characters!” He proceeded to explain the parallels: there are at least six. Shocked, I watched his eyes dance and his feet dance around the kitchen as he poured out his joy at his discovery. He told me he had not found any acknowledgment of his contribution (I think he was kind of hoping the book was dedicated to him) and I saw him searching the pages, still hoping he would find something.
I took the book from him and he told me he had read the book, but skipped the prologue. Of course, I went straight there and found this paragraph: “Since I arrived at this mountain, I have set myself a pleasurable duty. From my own recollections, and information gathered from friends, both old and young, I recently put quill to parchment and began this Chronicle. Mayhaps when the story is finally told, my young daughter will enjoy reading it. I hope you will, too, my friend. Well, it starts like this…” This is written in voice of the character writing the “Chronicle”, but I found its message to be clear. I read it to Dakota and said, “Here’s your acknowledgment, buddy.” He went crazy!
I don’t know if Brian Jacques meant anything but what the character said in that paragraph. I don’t know if he meant to use Dakota’s ideas or not. It may be that it’s all one giant coincidence. There is one thing, however, that I know is not coincidence. God used this author to give my brother an experience he will remember as long as he lives. That little boy’s joy was contagious. Suddenly, he knows his ideas have worth, his opinion is important, and that his thoughts make a difference. What an effect that will have on his life! The boy who has the most fantastic ideas for stories but “can never get them to come out right on paper” has been shown that he has potential and merit. Wow!
I wish you could have seen the delight and thrill on his face, or the way he scampered around the house, copied the page with the paragraph above, and determined to purchase the book (as the other copy is the library’s). There is no doubt that this was no coincidence; it was orchestrated by God to give a young boy an experience that will be a molding influence on his life.