There is something pure and noble in the act of helping others.
As I stand upon the edge of going back to school next week, I am filled with discouragement as I still have had no direction in how I am going to teach my students for the upcoming new year.
Writing is a joy for me and something that I want to instill within the hearts of my students; that’s how I help others in this world, and I’ve been helping the kids of my neighbourhood for the past 18 years. It gives me great satisfaction to share stories, their construction and explore what it brings forth in all of us through the simple act of reading. Now I’m back in the library of my school – a position that I was wrongfully removed from – and it gives me such happiness that I will be able to influence more kids with this love.
You can be sure that I will tell them about Canto and the Clockwork Fairies (David Booher, Drew Zucker, Vittorio Astone, Deron Bennett, David Mariotte).
I’ve written about this glorious little hero and his sterling heart in past posts, but every time I read an issue of his adventures, I am overwhelmed by how decent he is and given a standard of character that I can live up to, as I proceed upon my own adventures in the upcoming year.
With regards to standards, this is the measure of character that teachers will need to emulate as they embark upon how their new odysseys. Their jobs will be different as they will not be able to handle their students’ work, share printed resources or even directly simply edit assignments. It’ll be different, and differences present an entire realm of adversity that can be unforeseeable in the teaching profession. Students have individual needs, learning styles, academic requirements, and not knowing what will be required of teachers creates a dimension of fear that will test their characters.
We see that same sort of challenge in this comic. Canto is in the process of leading his people, all recently named and given identities, to a place they can call home. The Shrouded Man is in their past and they look forward to a new, but uncertain future.
However, Canto and his Malorex friend take time out to have some fun.
Play will be an essential component as kids – and teachers – try to make sense of their new normal. This is not lost on me.
But Canto makes a discovery of an enslaved people who need his help. Throwing caution to the wind, Canto rises to their defence, without any thought of his own safety.
I want to be like Canto.
Booher writes this character with a simple, yet incredibly emotional poignance. It’s impossible to criticize because he is what we want him to be: a hero. One without thought to his own welfare and a powerful desire to help others. Literally, he represents the best of our own aspirations; it’s what teachers try to do.
Canto should be the patron saint of Teachers.
The dialogue is straightforward and powerfully resonant. Canto says exactly what is needed, and while it describes his intentions, it penetrates hearts. It’s what needs to be said in the moment.
Drew Zucker draws a character we can instinctively love. Canto is small, anonymous but fierce. It’s clear he is a hero of limited physical means. His rounded and inferior looking body is coated in solid steel and he is armed with a small, but sharp axe. He has the means and drive, if not the strength to power his heroic ambitions. Yet, this is an intuitive reinforcement that he is a hero regardless of his size. That implies that he can fail, but emphasizes the sense of victory when he achieves and overcomes.
If this diminutive hero can dare, can’t we all?
I know … it’s a comic; it’s a fairy tale. Completely within the realm of fantasy, but fantasy is the realm of dreams. Dreams are the essence of hope and this is a story that lends itself to the birth of hope, and during these trying times, this is a commodity that is so desperately needed.
Pandemic, overwhelming racism, isolation-inducing anxiety – the world is facing challenges that are myriad and unique. However, while formidable, they are not impossible to overcome. My grandparents fought World War II and returned to raise families and build societies based on what they learned. They weren’t perfect and probably made more mistakes than anyone would have liked, but they did it.
Heroes aren’t afraid to make mistakes – they embrace the prospect in the pursuit of what’s right. Canto knows what’s right as he embarks upon rescuing a strange voice that asks for it. He challenges a superior threat willingly without knowing her power or the risk to himself. His friend and bodyguard is ensorcelled in a spell of sleep, but he still resists, regardless. He doesn’t even know the identity of the people he is trying to help, but he adheres to his principles that include the idea that no-one should be enslaved and yet he persists.
I know it’s a fairy tale, but I think the world needs more fairy tales. They talk about nobility, ideals and even though these aren’t always possible in the real world, we need them because we need to have an ideal to live up to.
Canto is simply the hero we need.
Quite frankly, I find comfort and relief in this character. I know he’s a fantasy but the sense of comfort I feel after reading this character is an emotional boost that I need in my own life. That’s uplifting and even if it’s just a diversion, then the emotional comfort that we can gather from that should not be underestimated.
This is a character that I plan on introducing to my students as they begin to embark upon their own anxious journeys next week. It’ll only help them, distract them, provide a topic of literary conversation and educate them in the not only good character building but graphic storytelling. Hey, as a Librarian and English Teacher, I can’t help but be thankful for the help that this story will give me in planning and providing for educational material.
Remember when I said that helping people was noble and pure?
Canto and the Clockwork Fairies is the pick of the week for this week’s selection.
It’s noble. It’s pure because it’ll definitely help people.
Until next week; be helpful – like Canto.