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The Genie Who Had Wishes of His Own: 21st-Century Fables Paperback – July 21, 2013
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About the Author
Margaret Harmon’s award-winning humor and fiction appear in national publications and on public radio. She is the author/illustrator of The Man Who Learned to Walk In Shoes That Pinch: Contemporary Fables and A Field Guide to North American Birders: A Parody. She lives in San Diego with her husband.
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If the fables had morals--and Harmon insists even Aesop's fables did not originally include morals until the Victorians, who feared children wouldn't otherwise learn from them, added them--the likely moral of the first would be "Don't let perfect be the enemy of good enough," of the second, "Appreciate every opportunity, especially those that benefit others," and of the third, "Opportunities aren't guarantees." Well, those last three words are Harmon's, from "The Second-best Juggler in the World." So I'm certain she would agree with me.
While each fable tells an entire story, there are themes that run through many of them. Seizing the opportunity is a theme that applies not only to the three genie tales but also to others. "Two Young Farmers," "The Snake in the Terrarium," and my favorite, "The Track Team," also deal with recognizing an opportunity or creating an opportunity or of missing out on an opportunity. In "The Track Team" Harmon contrasts three team members who agree there is a problem: their team keeps losing. And they agree something must be done. But each chooses a different solution, leaving the reader to decide which of the three is more likely to succeed. "Two Young Farmers" poses a similar situation, though the outcome is unambiguous: one farmer believes perfection must be found first while the other begins with what he is handed and creates his own opportunity.
One of the longest fables, "The Philanthropist," presents the scariest of images to me. The title implies the central character is a success, having acquired so much wealth he can afford to give it away. But the moral of this fable involves the means more than the ends.
It may be several years yet before I can tell these fables to my pre-school aged grandchildren. I hope Margaret keeps writing fables to add to these by then.
Margaret Harmon has cleverly omitted the moral that traditionally ends fables. Instead she wants each reader to create her own lessons. Open GENIE to any one of its 22 fables and let it take you wherever your spirit leads. Harmon plays with us in fables like "The Woman Who Loved Her Husband" and "A Bite of Toast"; pushes us to accept realities in "Rex"; and emboldens our powers of survival in "The Captain's Table." She shows us how to succeed in "The Song Sparrow," frees us to be our true selves in "The Second-best Juggler in the World,"and unleashes our idealism in "One Piece of Perfection."
Enjoy these fables and Harmon's magical illustrations while riding public transportation, sitting in a waiting room, or even standing in line. Lounge on your sofa with GENIE and a glass of Chardonnay, sit under a tree with GENIE on your lap, or snuggle with your favorite characters under a feathery quilt.
Call these fables unforgettable, clever, inventive, lyrically written, timeless, and you'll be right. They are, in Harmon's words, "One Piece of Perfection."