Children’s books, characters, and references have a strange habit of working their way into unexpected places. Like street art, for instance.
Consider this most recent example of an argument between me and my husband which could have easily been lifted from a page of Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld’s brilliant (and apparently rather prophetic) Duck! Rabbit!:
It all began a few months back when we started seeing chalked graffiti all over the Upper East Side. Unlike the usual tagging one sees by street artists, these temporary sidewalk drawings featured child-like stick figures, often accompanied by the optimistic (if somewhat indeterminate) admonition to “Become your dream.”
The little chalked stick figures were, to my eye, clearly duck-like. Or, perhaps a chick of some kind. To my husband’s view, however, they were obviously fish. Take a look for yourself:
What do you see? Duck or Fish?
Being the information professionals we are, simply agreeing to disagree on this was not an option. If there was a right answer, we were going to find it. As it turns out, the chalk figures are the work of James De La Vega, a New York street artist known for murals, graffiti, and chalk drawings that can be found anywhere from East Harlem to SoHo.
So, what is it? A duck, spewing forth tidbits of wisdom and inspiration on the streets of my city? Or, a fish jumping out of the confines of his bowl on his way to “becoming his dream?” Like the optical illusion created in Duck! Rabbit! and as most things in life, it depends on the way you look at it.
Actually, if you want to know the truth, it’s a fish.
Mattress photo courtesy of Flickr user Ralph Hockens; all other photos taken by the author.