29 October 2013

Games Acknowledgements Play

At the end of Fantasy Baseball, author Alan Gratz thanks a number of writing colleagues (including Laurel Snyder) for their support, and a number of literary estates, including those of Brian Jacques, Madeleine L’Engle, and the still-quite-alive Ingrid Law, for permitting him to use characters under copyright.

Also among the latter group is: “the estate of Ruth Spencer-Davies for letting me borrow the inimitable Nanny Mae and her feline companion Mrs. P.”

There was no Ruth Spencer-Davies.

Nanny Mae shares some characteristics with P. L. Travers’s Mary Poppins and perhaps Christianna Brand’s Nurse Matilda (better known as the cinematic Nanny McPhee). But, whether pushed by copyright requirements or not, she appears to be Gratz’s own creation.

The conceit of Fantasy Baseball is a boy caught in a realm of make-believe characters. We readers have to believe that Nanny Mae is such a character, from a series we’ve never read or perhaps one we’ve forgotten. And the line in the acknowledgements serves that fictional purpose.

I’m running this on a Tuesday because Dorothy Gale is a major character in Fantasy Baseball, founder of the team Alex Metcalf finds himself playing for. Other characters from the Oz books also appear, including Scraps, Tik-Tok, and Jack Pumpkinhead. The threat underlying the plot is that those characters will be forgotten in our culture and disappear from the playing field.

But if Nanny Mae lives on with no other evidence for her existence on the web, then surely Jack Pumpkinhead will, too.

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