What fog makes us lose sight of our dreams? // THE FOG by Kyo Maclear and Kenard Pak
That day, a warm fog rolled in from the sea. All morning long, it wisped and swirled, climbing hills and spilling into valleys.
— The Fog
The Fog isn’t a YA novel, and nor is it a middle-grade chapter book. This gorgeous picture book is short enough that it doesn’t have numbered pages. Plenty of white, blank spaces can be found on the pages within the book, and consequently, the focus is more on the illustrations than the words for this story — but the story itself is much richer than one might expect from a children’s novel.
I didn’t stumbled across this lovely book by myself. I placed a hold on this book after reading Pages Unbound Reviews’ post on how “Picture Books Aren’t Just for Children,” which made me realize how I almost never read picture books. In fact, before reading that post, I think I hadn’t picked up a books for myself to read in… a few years? 🤔 I have no exact number, but it has been a while.
Reading The Fog as someone who is not a child made me realize how picture books are very capable of portraying deep and intricate themes within them, despite their simple words and format.
The Fog is not a simple story, though it appears to be one. The first time I read it, I liked it, but I felt like there was something I wasn’t quite getting out of the story yet. I reread it several times and let the story sit in the back of my mind for a few days before writing this book chat.
In fact, if I didn’t have the motivation of writing a book chat for this book encouraging me to think more deeply about the themes within this novel, I might have completely missed the meaning of this story. This is why I’m grateful I have my blog to motivate me to think more deeply about the stories I encounter 😊
After digging around my head trying to understand where I drew my conclusions for what The Fog is trying to convey, I settled on two things: my own experience, as well as the themes of the classic I am currently reading, Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. Brave New World is a dystopian novel that takes place in a society where natural births do not occur — people are made in laboratories by other lab-made humans, and people are born into certain castes with a pre-determined level of intelligence. Though the novel focuses more on exploring the morals, unprecedented consequences, and negative effects of technology on society, there are themes of losing sight of what is important in humanity and living that I found applicable to the story of The Fog.
Thus, with that in mind, let’s get on with this book chat:
What is The Fog About?
Set on an island in the north, The Fog follows a yellow bird named Warbler as he witnesses a cold, icy fog creep into and around the island and change the island’s community of birds. Warbler loves to watch humans and observe them, but the fog has prevented him from continuing his passion. In the midst of those foggy days, Warbler suddenly stumbles across a little girl who also sees the fog. Together, they try to find a way to get rid of the fog that covers the island and blinds its inhabitants from seeing anything clearly.
Why Should You Care About This Story?
Of course, the beauty of books is that you, the reader, get to interpret it all for yourself. Whatever you take from the book is yours to keep — but here is what I took away from the story that made this book meaningful to me:
It made me think about what kind of fog was present
in my own life.
The fog I’m thinking of isn’t the natural or beautiful kind of fog that I would find wisping through the woods in nature; that kind of fog I would deem as elegantly mysterious and gladly welcome into my life. The kind of fog that I believe this story portrays is anything that makes my dreams and passions harder to see and pursue — and the first thing I can think of that matches that description is technology.
It is so, so easy to set my phone in my room and immediately go to it in the morning for entertainment rather than start off my day thinking how I will be able to best use my time to achieve my dreams. It is easy to succumb to society’s expectations of how I should make myself beautiful and spend my precious money and time applying cosmetics to my face; and it would also be easy to do trivial things instead of read and educate myself.
My time is invaluable to me. It is irreplaceable once it passes, and every moment I decide to focus on anything other than what is important to me is time lost that I cannot gain back.
I could say that technology is the fog in many people’s lives, but it’s not the only source of this fog that makes the sight of dreams and passions fade away into the air — it’s the expectations of society that seems so important to fulfill that invade my mind, but when I really stop to ponder whether I care about those expectation… more often than not, I realize that I don’t.
I don’t care for the need to look beautiful all the time, because these dark circles beneath my eyes show how I am a thinker. My thoughts swirl and pour and crash around my mind each and every night because it is the only quiet time I have during my days to reflect on my life. The consequence is that sometimes I wake up wishing I had been able to fall asleep faster so that I could feel more refreshed and awake the next day…
But actually, I do feel wonderful.
It’s the idea that one must look good in order to feel good that society has inculcated into me that makes me think anything is imperfect about my face… but I’ve gotten this far without feeling the need to wear makeup to feel beautiful. When I see people, I do not judge them by their face — I judge them by their kindness, their character, and whether they treat the people around them with open-minded respect. When I came to this revelation in my life — that I wanted to see people for who they are on the inside and not through the filter of society on how they look — the fog within my life cleared a little bit, and I felt like I could see the world more clearly again.
The world became a much more beautiful place,
but there still was so much fog left to get rid of.
I am a high school student who could be drowning in pressure to attend a good college, to major in a specific course, and to let society tell me what path I should do to be successful. Yet success is different for everyone — what if my definition of success is to live in a solar-powered van for a year and travel all over North America? To become fluent in five languages and live abroad? Write my days away with these stories and revelations I have swirling within me, because I know there are people out there who share the same perspective on life as me?
In the midst of taking all these courses and tests in preparation for college, I have to force myself to tear my eyes away from my grades and instead look at the level of my happiness and satisfaction of my life. Am I doing something I love that I will do the rest of my life when I attend school? Yes, because education is one of the most powerful things one can have to strengthen their mind, yet once the pressure builds up to get a high percentage grade on tests and assignments, it is easy to lose meaning of why we go to school.
But then again, like with society’s expectations of how one should look in order to be beautiful, I’ve gotten this far in the school system by operating on nothing but my own passion for learning and gaining knowledge of this world.
Once again, the fog in my life cleared, everything looked much brighter than before, and I felt like Warbler and the Red-Hooded Spectacled Girl in The Fog:
never willing to settle for anything less than clarity in my life for what I love and want to do in my lifetime.
I will admit that it’s scary, venturing off this path that society has placed in front of me from the very moment I was born into this world.
I’m treading on a path that no one else has walked before, because no one has lived the same life as me. I am a unique person in this world who is carving my own story out rather than becoming a secondary character in someone else’s life. The foggy terrain to which I was born into fades a little bit each day I become more confident and learn to dedicate more time for my passions.
I am not in a land where fog is never present yet; rather, I’m in a place of in between. It’s a work in progress to walk out of a place that seems like it has no direction, no color, and no individual thinking… but I’m almost there. I can feel it when the sun hits and warms my skin, when I can see the line of the horizon in the distance cutting off the ocean, and when I jump off what seems like a cliff but land gently on the grassy stretch of land a few feet below me.
The fog of meaningless expectations and norms are fading away from my mind each day, and I am so happy I stumbled upon a book that allowed me to attach a name to those expectations and norms.
If you are in need of a reminder to follow your passions, this book is it. I hope you decide to read this book, and remember to
Do these ideas resonate with you? What is the fog in your life that has clouded the sight of your dreams, passions, or goals? Did it surprise you to see how much a tiny, short picture book brought so many intricate thoughts to my mind? What are some books that helped you gain some clarity in life in terms of what is meaningful to you?
Thanks for reading, and I will cya next time!
This book chat is part of Shannon Messenger’s Marvelous Middle Grade Monday meme. You can find her blog @ Ramblings of a Wannabe Scribe, though currently the host is Greg Pattridge. His blog can be found @ Always in the Middle. Thanks for the feature!