Bad Guys Don’t Have Birthdays: Fantasy Play at Four.

Bad Guys Don’t Have Birthdays: Fantasy Play at Four. – book reviews

Ruth J. Moss

Bad Guys Don’t Have Birthdays

Beating the Bad Guys

“Sit, sit, sit, sit, have a pizza-rizza-pizza pie,” sings 4-year-old Mollie. “Pizza-pie oh my.” Vivian Gussin Paley’s classroom is alive once again with the sound of make-believe. In her latest book, Bad Guys Don’t Have Birthdays: Fantasy Play at Four (University of Chicago Press, $12.95), Paley explores the value of playtime in preschool.

Through the “intuitive language” of fantasy play, Paley believes, children express their deepest concerns. They act out different roles and invent imaginative scenarios in order to better understand the real world. Fantasy play helps them cope with uncomfortable feelings such as fear. If a fear cannot be avoided, Paley writes, “the children seem to be saying, let it surface and explode.”

Babies, birthdays and bad guys are popular themes among children. For a while, Frederick constantly played “baby” to resolve his ambivalence about becoming a big brother. Birthdays are a new standard of celebration in the children’s increasingly social arena. And bad guys are often used to play out uncertainty or suspicion. Any unknown can be made into a bad guy, Paley observes.

Bad Guys, Paley’s fifth book in a series on learning and development, reveals developmental milestones as reflected through the changing aspects of fantasy play. By 4 years, the children have discovered that they can obtain a sense of protection or control over their circumstances by imposing rules and random logic. In fantasy, any device may be used to draw safe boundaries. Young Barney’s logic is decisive: “If you have magic, you don’t need a mother.”

COPYRIGHT 1988 Sussex Publishers, Inc.

COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group