I'm currently reading Toby Alone by Timothee de Fombelle (translated by Sarah Ardizzone; illustrated by Francois Place; Candlewick, 2009). There's Toby on the cover of the book, larger than life: he's really only one-and-half millimeters tall, and his whole world is a great oak Tree, just like the ones in my backyard. I'm reading the library's copy, so I can't see the map of the Tree on the other side of the cover, but spot illustrations in pen-and-ink appear frequently throughout. Maybe it's better that I can't see the whole Tree, actually; neither can the tiny people who live in it, and that's part of their problem.
Part of my problem is that I've lost my mind--or rather, the key to it. The metaphor is scientist Sim Lolness's:
"Every brain has its key," [Toby's] father always used to say. "Mine is my bed. Yours is your plate. Eat before you think, or you'll think badly." (48)
My key is solitude. Companionable quiet will also work. Both have been in short supply lately; in the last week or so alone I've attended everything from my 20-year high school reunion to KidlitCon (guess which was better?!). Right now I'm making room for more quiet in which to read and write and think.
In the meantime, I would love to know what your keys (or your children's) might be. Sleep, food, quiet, or something else entirely--what do you need to think your best?