Chapter Eighteen – Sunflower Fields
Note: I’m adding a drink for every time a character starts monologuing.
Our two intrepid heroes head back to the river bank. Conveniently, all of the crocodiles are gone, so they continue on towards the ‘Lake Lagoon’, basking in the knowledge that they’ve passed the test. How they know this, I really don’t know.
Maya and Joey discuss where Libertine and Sagitta are, which leads to another random bit of wisdom from Maya:
“Eagles don’t flock! They fly very high in the air and you have to find them by looking up and not down.” Maya said looking around. “I also think that leaders must be able to concentrate under difficult conditions and circumstances to keep their heads up when all others around them are losing their heads in despair and fear” (page 104).
This first part would make more sense of Joey had made a comment about eagles flocking, but he didn’t. Maybe Tesch accidentally deleted that line from the book. Or maybe she’s trying to convince us that Maya has a strange type of Tourette’s where she randomly just blurts out long, nonsensical sentences that are sort of related to the subject at hand but not really. Also, the second bit would be a great deal funnier if the last four words weren’t there.
Suddenly they arrive at an ocean of flowers. Like sunflowers but bigger. Maya says that they have a very unique color, which is funny, since they’re described as being yellow.
Maya jumped up and clapped her hands with joy. At that moment hundreds of orange birds flew up from the sunflower fields and disappeared in the higher grounds in front of them. “Where did all these orange birds come from?” Joey asked.
“Yes, where did they come from and where did they go?” Hoppy asked (page 105).
First, jumping up and clapping your hands is idiotic. Go ahead. Stand up from your computer screen, jump in the air and clap your hands. Feels stupid, doesn’t it? If you were in a public place, I’m sure everyone turned and looked at you as if you were retarded, didn’t they? This is something that I might expect a three-year-old to do, and that’s a stretch. Second, the orange birds came from underneath the giant sunflowers, and third, they went into the higher ground in front of them. What kind of questions are these?
They get further and further into the field of sunflowers. Tesch lets us know that the sunflowers are at least five times higher than Maya. Some quick Googling tells us the average height for fifteen-year-old American girls is 5’0” to 5’2”. So these sunflowers would be around twenty-six feet tall. Now, the Guinness World Record for sunflowers is over twenty-five feet, so this isn’t entirely implausible, however, extremely tall sunflowers usually need some kind of pole next to them to help support them.
Eh, who am I kidding? These are magic Narnian flowers, they don’t need to follow the laws of physics.
The flowers get thicker and thicker and blot out the sun. Soon they’re having to crawl through them. Then they get separated. How, I’m not sure. You’d think once it went dark they would start holding hands or something. Anyway, finally Maya breaks through and gets out the other side, but Joey is gone. She yells his name but there’s no response.
We skip back to Joey, who puts his boy scout skills to work:
He glanced at his compass, looked for a different way and chose to go left toward the river (page 107).
Compasses don’t tell you which way is left or right.
He crawls for a bit and finds himself in a giant bamboo forest. Just what you’d expect to find next to a field of giant sunflowers. Unsure of what to do next, Joey finally pulls Hoppy out of his pocket and tells him to climb the bamboo tree and tell him where the river is. When the grasshopper comes down he tells Joey where to go to get to the river.
Joey looked at the bamboo curtain and said to Hoppy, “It seems that we are just separated by this bamboo curtain. I have learned during this journey many things and one of the things is that leadership is a privilege and with privilege comes responsibility” (page 108).
– verb (used without object)
3. To make a transition from one thing to another smoothly and without interruption.
I really, really want to email Gloria Tesch with nothing but a link to dictionary.com’s definition of this word.
Also, leadership is not a privilege. It is a responsibility, but I have no idea how Joey realized this. In fact, I don’t think he has realized this.
Joey pulls out his knife and starts hacking his way through the bamboo forest. Speaking from experience, kitchen knives aren’t meant for hacking your way through foliage. You know what happens when you try? They break. But eventually, he reaches the ‘Samana River’.
I’m pretty sure the ‘Bacchus’ references only goes as far as his appearance in Narnia.
Maya worries and wishes that Libertine was there and would tell her what to do. Ah, completely helpless female characters. I hate them so much.
Suddenly a brown bear comes lumbering along with her three cubs. Maya is frightened and creeps off until the bears are out of sight and then takes off running. Finally she stops next to what looks like a giant puddle of something black and sticky. She’s curious so she bends over and sticks a finger in and suddenly the orange birds swoop down in front of her.
Maya lost her balance and fell into the ‘gooey substance’. She screamed at the top of her lunges and all the orange birds flew up into the sky (page 111).
Yes. Screams at the top of her lunges. Ah, typos.
Maya slides in deeper and deeper, and suddenly this novel takes a rather unusual turn:
She started to say a prayer which she had learned in Sunday school: “Save me Lord, save me Lord, hold my hands and save me Lord!” (page 111).
In addition to this being roughly the dumbest prayer I’ve ever heard, and even more proof that this is a total rip-off of Narnia, I have to wonder something. Is Maya supposed to be a Christian? I’m guessing she at least has a semi-religious background. Regardless, even if she’s just the kind of person who whips a prayer out when her life is in danger, it raises the question of why Maya didn’t say a prayer when she was drowning in the pool.
Also, since Maya is basically an author insert, I wonder if Tesch is religious at all. The kind of religious person who writes sentences in children’s book like ‘Get yo’ ass over the damn fence!’.
Suddenly the doves show up. Libertine apologizes and says they were off fighting the evil fairies. Maya tells her to find Joey and bring him to save her. Libertine and a few other doves fly off.
“I wish Sagitta would be around and pull me out of this goop!”
One of the doves that Libertine left with Maya said “It is not Sagitta’s test! It is your test! There is no gain without pain and a person who stays in the valley will never reach the hill!” (page 112).
Right. So when Sagitta told them that she was ordered to help them at all times? Yeah, that was total bullshit. Even though she helped them out during a previous ‘test’. It’s almost as if there aren’t any actual ‘rules’ and Tesch is just randomly making up excuses to fit the plot as she writes it. But no, she would never do something like that!
I’m not even going to touch that little nugget of ‘wisdom’ at the end.
Libertine flies around until she finds Joey, and then:
Libertine and her three companions dived from the sky like ‘Little Kamikaze Bombers’ and circled around Joeys head (page 112).
I’m really not seeing the similarity between rescue doves and Japanese suicide pilots, and there should be an apostrophe in Joeys.
The doves tell Joey that Maya is drowning in a pond of toxic waste – yes, that is what they call it – and so Joey takes off running as fast as he can and he sees Maya up to her chin and chops a thick, strong, branch off of a nearby bush – yes, a bush – with his kitchen knife – yes, a kitchen knife – and swings it down and Maya grabs it and he starts pulling it out.
Meanwhile the commotion has attracted the attention of the brown bear. So Libertine and co. dive towards the bear (like an arrow this time) and start pecking its head and pulling it on is ears. A missing apostrophe later, the bear decides to give up against this vicious dove onslaught and takes off.
Joey eventually pulls Maya out. Libertine explains that the toxic waste dries as hard as stone and so they need to take her to the river and wash her off.
“One disaster comes seldom alone!” said Joey (page 115).
Joey cuts three branches and puts a bunch of banana leaves on them. From the nearby banana tree that was growing next to the pond of toxic waste. Anyway, the potent combination of three branches, banana leaves, and rope somehow makes a ‘handmade stretcher’, and he drags Maya towards the river. Eventually they arrive and wash it off and everyone survives. Hooray!
A whole new chapter, all new nonsensical quotes. I think Gloria Tesch wrote this on acid. Or maybe her mother did acid while she was pregnant with her.
The doves have to leave and Maya gives us this gem:
“I know now that I cannot escape the responsibilities of tomorrow by avoiding them today” (page 118).
Which isn’t too terribly crazy in and of itself, although if they’re responsibilities of TOMORROW, why would you need to do them today? Regardless, how is this related to what just happened? Maya didn’t have any responsibilities. They were walking through a sunflower forest and then she fell into a vat of toxic waste, and I’m guessing it’s not going give her superpowers. How does any of this have to do with procrastinating on your responsibilities?
Oh well. Maya and Joey sit down and have a heart-to-heart. Joey rambles about how much he’s grown and how he’s learned random shit about being a leader. Maya mentions that they’ve mastered the ‘Separation and Cleansing Test’ which has to be the most unimaginative name ever.
They move on to talking about how it’s weird that a creature like Sagitta can see with the eyes inside her. I’m not sure how they know that Sagitta has eyes inside her, but whatever. Maya has an explanation, though:
“I learned that many women in India mark their foreheads with a dot and call it ‘the third eye or the inner eye’. Maybe everybody needs a third eye or an inner eye to see and recognize the truth and the real circumstances in life” (page 120).
Yeah. And maybe they don’t. Joey, however, agrees, and launches into a truly magnificent speech. The kind of speech that might be acceptable to launch into at the end of the book, after months and months of grueling effort, near-death experiences, and a slow, methodical change to your point of view:
“Yeah, you are right Maya. I really feel it in my soul and I can also see it with my inner eye that I have changed and that I am still in the process of changing during this journey. I don’t know Maya, how you feel, but I don’t have the right words to explain all of the changes which took place within me but when I look back and I see were we came from and how we were fighting at home in the normal world for all these dumb little things, like T-shirts, colored pencils, paper pads, books and…and…and… I realize that I grew inside of myself and that I am at least ten years wiser. We see things mostly not as they really are, we see the things as we are or as we want to see them.” Joey said (page 120).
Some thoughts: yes, it really says ‘were we came from’. Yes, all those commas are really there. And yes, apparently they fought over T-shirts and paper pads. Not things like toys or the TV remote. Also, I’ve changed a great deal over my life, and never, not even once, have I sat down with a sibling and had a heart-to-heart talk where I discussed how I’d changed dramatically over the past few days.
Then again, I’ve never being transported into Narnia, so maybe Tesch is onto something here.
Hoppy says that he doesn’t see anything except for glitter, which sounds ominous, as we know that glitter is poisonous in Teschland.