The Neverending Story.
I first heard the words as a child in a hotel room while my parents flipped channels on the cable TV. My family didn’t get cable at home, so it was only in the already-thrilling setting of a hotel room that I was introduced to Animal Planet, Cartoon Network, and old Disney classics. I don’t remember how old I was when The Neverending Story was briefly flipped on before bed, but I do remember the instant intrigue I felt. A classic tale, a magical book, and a story with no end—I was hooked. It took until this month for me to actually follow through and find the book at the library, but I’ve finally experienced the story that had been calling my name for years.
Have you read, seen, or at least heard of it? It’s a sweet story about a bullied boy who reads the fantasy tale of a world that is literally falling apart—and he, Bastian Balthazar Bux, is the only person who can save it. I have to admit, I enjoyed the half of the book where he was still on the outside looking into the book much more than the person he became upon entering the land of Fantastica, but his journey home again was powerful and touching. The most interesting aspect of the story for me was the idea that there is a link between the human and Fantastican worlds, and only when humans believe in Fantastica can either world be healthy and whole.
There were two “dragons” in the story. The more traditional dragon was invented by Bastian to kidnap a princess so that a noble knight could prove his worth. His role was minimal. Falkor the luckdragon had a much greater part to play.
Luckdragons aren’t exactly what we think of as dragons. I will let Michael Ende, the author, explain in his own words:
“Luckdragons are among the strangest animals in Fantastica. They bear no resemblance to ordinary dragons, which look like loathsome snakes and live in deep caves, diffusing a noxious stench and guarding some real or imaginary treasure…. Luckdragons are creatures of air, warmth, and pure joy. Despite their great size, they are as light as a summer cloud, and consequently need no wings for flying. They swim in the air of heaven as fish swim in water. Seen from the earth, they look like slow lightning flashes. The most amazing thing about them is their song. Their voice sounds like the golden note of a large bell, and when they speak softly the bell seems to be ringing in the distance. Anyone who has heard this sound will remember it as long as he lives and tell his grandchildren about it.” –The Neverending Story
Falkor is one of my favorite main characters in the story. Bastian makes too many foolish mistakes for me to love him, and Atreyu (a Fantastican boy who plays a key role in the story) makes too few mistakes. Falkor, on the other hand, is wise, powerful, joyful, and kind–and more convincingly so because he is not a person. He gives helpful advice, is a strong ally in trouble, cheers up those who are discouraged, and above all, holds on to hope. This luckdragon is the kind of friend that we all hope for.
*For those of you who missed my last post, I mentioned a “mystery book” that I had read while sick that I was going to say more about on Thursday. This is that book. Today is no longer Thursday, but some things came up before I finished my post, and I wasn’t able to finish it until today.