William Steig

One of my favorite writers is William Steig, author of Shrek.

Among his children’s books is ‘Dominic’, a good story about a wandering dog. The book contains one of the most interesting passages in any children’s book I’ve ever read. At the start of his journey, Dominic stands at a fork in the road. He must choose between two paths.

An alligator offers him advice: “That road there on the right goes nowhere. There’s not a bit of magic up that road, no adventure, no surprise, nothing to discover or wonder at. Even the scenery is humdrum. You’d soon grow much too introspective. You’d take to daydreaming and tail-twiddling, get absent-minded and lazy, forget where you are and what you’re about, sleep more than one should, and be wretchedly bored.

Furthermore, after a while, you’d reach a dead end and you’d have to come all that dreary way back to right here where we’re standing now, only it wouldn’t be now, it would be woefully wasted time later.”

“Now this road, the one on the left,” she said, her heavy eyes glowing, “this road keeps right on going, as far as anyone cares to go, and if you take it, believe me, you’ll never find yourself wondering what you might have missed by not taking the other. Up this road, which looks the same at the beginning, but is really ever so different, things will happen that you could never have guessed at—marvelous, unbelievable things. Up this way is where adventure is.

I’m pretty sure I know which way you will go.”