Calvin by Martine Leavitt
WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN REAL AND TRUE?
Topics of Interest: mental illness, cartoons, survival, romance, adventure
Curriculum Connections: English, Health and Physical Education, Geography
Blurb: I haven’t yet seen the new Peanuts movie, but it’s on my must-see list. I love reading the funny pages; they are far more entertaining than the rest of the newspaper. My old-time favorite was Calvin and Hobbes. Do you know it? Calvin was an adventurous, often bratty little kid whose best friend was Hobbes, his stuffed tiger. Calvin and Hobbes got into all kinds of trouble together, but they always had each other’s backs. Hobbes was “alive” to Calvin, and he was his best friend.
In Calvin, the story of Calvin and Hobbes continues. Calvin is a 17-year old who hasn’t thought about his stuffed tiger in years…until he has a schizophrenic break. Suddenly, Hobbes is back, alive and well.
The catch? Calvin is just a regular boy who happens to share a name with the famous cartoon character.
In the depths of his illness, Calvin convinces himself that he actually IS Calvin from the cartoon Calvin and Hobbes and that the only way he’ll get better is if Bill Watterson, the cartoonist who invented the strip, creates one more story for him.
So Calvin sets out on an adventure so daring and dangerous that Bill Watterson can’t help but notice. Hobbes comes along, of course, as does Susie, his best childhood friend.
Calvin thought that the hardest part of the adventure would be surviving the elements. As it turns out, the hardest part was ignoring his own brain.
Is there a difference between real and true?
Flavour: “Everything I’m going to say in this letter is true with some real stuff thrown in. You may wonder how you can believe that, coming from a recently diagnosed schizo kid, but I’ve figured out there’s a difference between the meaning of the word real and the meaning of the word true. Reality is all the stuff that won’t go away. Like school and gravity, no matter how much you wish it would. It’s the ceiling your imagination bumps up against. People with my condition just keep floating on up as if there weren’t any ceiling, with every so often a few hard falls and then more floating. But true doesn’t float. It just is.” (12)
“And then I heard a voice. I knew it was Hobbes. I knew right away it was him even though I couldn’t see him….I didn’t answer him at first. I wasn’t crazy: I knew he wasn’t there. But he was. I could feel him, hear him breathing somewhere in my room.” (14)
“Maybe Calvin was so real to so many people that on the day I was born, which was the day the last Calvin and Hobbes comic came out, maybe all that love and sadness people felt … I opened my mouth to get my first breath, and I just sucked it in. I wasn’t sick. I was Calvin come to life!” (31)
“Midnight and I was still thinking about you, Bill, and me, and Hobbes, and Susie my ex-friend or frenemy or whatever she was. She was part of it, too. Half the night I thought about how I could convince you to do just one more comic strip, one starring seventeen-year-old me, alone without Hobbes. Just me, but without this illness. That’s when I came up with my plan to prove my ultimate fandom so you would draw me that strip. I knew it would make me better. You could make me better, and make Hobbes go away.” (37)