A Green Fan­ta­sy: Ruthie Dis­cov­ers the Secret to Noah’s Ecosystem

Edna Chayen
  • Review
By – September 1, 2011
Aimed at pre-teen read­ers, A Green Fan­ta­sy is about 10-year-old Ruthie’s school project on Noah’s Ark. Ruthie solic­its the help of her old­er broth­er, Dan, and their cousin, Jack, a uni­ver­si­ty stu­dent liv­ing with the fam­i­ly. Togeth­er, the three of them try to recre­ate the tech­ni­cal­i­ties of the ark — what it looked like, how it was con­fig­ured and where pro­vi­sions were stored. This book endeav­ors to sug­gest what took place in the build­ing of the Ark and the way in which it func­tioned as a total­ly enclosed eco­log­i­cal sys­tem,” Chayen writes in her pref­ace. I do not claim that this is how Noah’s Ark was. This is how it could have been.” This is the first for­ay into children’s lit­er­a­ture for Chayen, a retired bar­ris­ter and crim­i­nol­o­gist whose last pub­lished book was titled Per­sis­tent Crim­i­nals,” a sub­ject clos­er to her area of pro­fes­sion­al exper­tise. From the begin­ning, the three main char­ac­ters in A Green Fan­ta­sy feel wood­en. Their dia­logue is not engag­ing, nor does it feel true or real to the age of the char­ac­ters she depicts. Per­haps it’s not sup­posed to, giv­en the fact that this is a self-described fan­ta­sy. But I sus­pect the fan­ta­sy aspect cen­ters around the recon­struc­tion of the ark, and that if any part of the sto­ry is sup­posed to feel real, it would be the char­ac­ters engaged in that recon­struc­tion. If you have a deep inter­est in how Noah’s Ark may have func­tioned, this book will like­ly hold some appeal, draw­ing from dreams, books and the bible to imag­ine how the ark might have looked and func­tioned. It’s a com­plex sub­ject and one not light­ly tack­led. Chayen tries hard to cap­ture the dynam­ics of Ruthie’s fam­i­ly as they work togeth­er and try to help each oth­er, but ulti­mate­ly, A Green Fan­ta­sy falls far short of an engag­ing, inter­est­ing read.
Lau­ren Kramer is a Van­cou­ver-based jour­nal­ist, wife, and moth­er with a life­long pas­sion for lit­er­a­ture. Born in Cape Town, South Africa, she has won awards for her writ­ing and report­ed from many cor­ners of the world. Read more of her work at www​.lau​renkramer​.net.

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