Colorful Cocoa Surrender

It's chilly outside in Los Angeles — and I'm loving every minute of every little nip in the air! Soon enough, the seven-month heat wave will settle, so my cozy nights with an hour or two of solitude have me scooped up in a blanket drinking (as you can see) a few marshmallows with some chocolate liquid somewhere at the bottom. Reading, my dear readers, has never been so fun — especially as an #MG #author navigating a whole new library and age range! The most recent #book I've finished? Tahereh Mafi's Furthermore.

Ever thought about what untapped magic you have? As a child, it likely crossed your mind. As an adult, you likely forgot. If you lived in such a world where magic was plentiful and you could taste colors and live off rainlight, how would you see yourself? What magical ability would you possess? These were the first thoughts that popped into my head while reading #Furthermore. I envisioned myself draped in greens and golds of the forest, perhaps my hair woven in starlight if I were to be so lucky. Mafi's characters, you see, seek everything abound in color, texture, and magic.

With a multicolored mug filled with cocoa and a mountain of marshmallows at the tippy top, I easily splashed around in the many lands that took our headstrong and naive heroine into quite a few dangerous, child-eating, multidimensional lands of color. Reading this book was an enchanting two weeks of vivid imagination and twisted glee. Manipulative foxes, Mother (who I envision much like a mechanical rose, even if she was very much flesh-bound in the story), and an owl-like man overly excited to fatten up children for dinner were only a few of many darkly comedic characters who invited me to turn the page quicker than I have in quite some time.

Every child in the land of Furthermore is given the chance to partake in a Surrender and offer each child's greatest magical gift to the community. Right there, that was a clear and easy concept to digest as a #writer: magic empowers children, one child lacks magic. Problem front and center! For me, apparently I have a great magical ability not to sicken myself on an abundance of marshmallows while I read. But "no-color" twelve-year-old Alice Queensmeadow of Furthermore doesn't believe she has any power worthy at all. Believing that her lack of color in her colorful home must mean she is less worthy, we journey with her to discover just how wrong she is and how brave and magical being different can be.

The best stories, in my humble opinion, offer the simplest solutions. The stakes may be high, and the paths taken difficult, but ultimately recognizing one's own self-worth and accepting who you are is a profound and easily relatable objective. It is one all of us children learn at an early age and, perhaps some more than others, struggle to identify with well into our later years. Furthermore is beautiful for this reason.

Mothers and fathers, read this book with your children and remind yourself of your childhood insecurities. Help them discover their own and perhaps find ways to overcome them together through thrilling adventures you long forgot. A few comforting words of make believe should do the trick and may color your evening with your kids. Writers who are not sure where their next fantasy world will be, Mafi's bright landscapes can help you map out many different directions. The array of quirky characters may motivate you to create some new faces of your own. In situations like my own, you may equally be inspired to enjoy the process of deeply investigating a character you've been wanting to build a new home for.

I will be reading Mafi's next #story, Whichwood, as soon as it arrives on my doorstep. Until then, a few drops of creative juice spilled somewhere out of my brain, shedding light on my newest #WIP Momori, the child of many sands. So, let us restock on some marshmallows, cocoa, and a few new cozy reads together, and if this book or another book has motivated you in the same way, share it with me!

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