Friday, June 7, 2013

Loveykins

In this picture book by former British Children's Laureate Quentin Blake, after a very windy night Angela finds a baby bird who has fallen from his nest. She takes him home and cares for him, feeding him, bundling him in warm blankets so he doesn't catch cold, and naming him Augustus. She buys a stroller to protect him and feeds him the best food she can buys. Eventually Angela buys a garden shed for for Augustus to live in, as he has grown so large.

One morning, after another windstorm, Angela comes outdoors to find that the shed has been blown flat. Augustus, now an enormous bird of prey, flies away, but continues to visit Angela from time to time, bringing her gifts like dead mice.

Is what Angela does for Augustus the right thing to do? Is it natural for a bird to be wrapped in blankets and living in a shed? What does it mean for something to be "natural?" Can taking care of someone violate their rights? How? When we try to protect someone, do we keep them from being free? Is Augustus free when Angela is taking care of him? Is he free when he leaves the shed? Is Augustus entitled to be free? Is everyone? What is freedom?

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