The question posed to the chicks this week was “What was your favorite book/books growing up.” The thing that amazed me, with over ten responses, there were no repeats (which is an attestation to our awesome-aucity). So without further ado, the books that shaped our childhoods:
Hillary: Serendipity by Stephen Cosgrove & Robin James (illus). I remember Cosgrove’s Serendipity books (Leo the Lop, Serendipity, Kartusch, Morgan and Me, Creole) and I remember loving them. Robin James’ illustrations were great, the stories taught ‘don’t be a dick’ values to an embryonic Hillary brain. I didn’t learn until much later that Cosgrove could have gone main stream publishing with the Serendipity series – he had offers from major New York publishing houses – but he opted to self publish because he wanted to be able to sell the books at a lower cost. A very cool series of books, a very cool dude.
Tami: Beauty by Robin McKinley. A strong yet kind heroine who loves her family, works hard, overcomes obstacles, (owns an awesome horse) – and then saves not only herself, but finds the compassion to save the man who imprisoned her as well – how could I not love this book? I read it obsessively. It was the first book that made me realize that I might tell stories like this – I might write a book that some girl like myself could love as much as I loved this book. This was the book that invited me to write. I will never NOT have this book on my bookshelf.
Lore: The Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia C. Wrede. A strong female lead, high fantasy. One of my favorite things were all the fairy tale references. I think these books definitely pointed me in the direction I needed to go to foster my love of the fantasy genre. I need to go reread these now.
Itanya: The Green Sky Trilogy by Zilpha Snyder. Like a lot of children’s novels, kids are the heroes. But Green Sky was more about just the traditional coming of age and saving the day. It was about discovery and being brave. It also touched on how being brave and taking risks can have consequences too. There was a touch of intrigue and deceit. It had all the qualities of the novels I enjoy know, but it was about kids. Even today, I remember the novels (and the computer game that came out of them) very fondly.
Caulle: Sideways Stories From Wayside School by Louis Sachar & Adam McCauley (illus). Okay, I had a hard time coming up with a book at first I’ll be honest, but then I remembered “Sideways Stories from Wayside School”. I don’t remember exactly how old I was at the time, but I do remember a teacher reading this to us in class. There were 30 chapters in the book called “stories” and we had one read to us every day for a month. I remember getting super excited to hear about the next crazy chapter. I believe I ran out and bought a copy of the book to read in my teens and it was just as enjoyable.
Fallah: The Black Stallion by Walter Farley. Oh man. We ( my sisters and I) read the crap out of these books. We were horse crazy and living in the suburbs. Every Christmas all 3 of us asked for a horse. At some point my folks rented us the Black Stallion movie and we were enchanted. (Our other favorite? Animated The Last Unicorn) When we found out that were were BOOKS we had to have them. We all loved to read.
Claire: Watership Down by Richard Adams.
haemonic: The Orphan Train Adventures by Joan Lowery Nixon. All right, I’m going with the books that I loved and was shocked to love.
I was, as a young adult, somewhere between the Beverly Cleary -> Paula Danziger phase and the sci-fi/fantasy enthusiast I would truly become when my grandmother gave me a set of four books known as the Orphan Train Quartet. Historical fiction, pre-Civil War America? To say I was dubious was to put it lightly. But I dutifully began reading (after a few months of avoidance), and was hooked within pages.
These books were incredibly enthralling for their engaging plots and very accessible characters. Plus, the main character of the first book is a girl who masquerades as a boy for most of the story, and I do enjoy my transgender characters; this may be how I figured that out.
Seeing now that the Quartet has been transitioned into Adventures makes me wonder where my originals are and keen to find out how the Civil War changes the lives of the six Irish children I followed so raptly from New York to their new homes on the far side of the Mississippi.
jinxifer: The Chronicles Of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. Has anyone done Chronicles of Narnia yet? They had a sensibility to them, a nobility, that really straightened my spine as a kid. I *drank* in the sense that good things were worth fighting for…and that BEING Good was. Even without the Christian allegories — perhaps *because* I had no idea that Aslan = Christ, et. al. — the series was a morality play I could really get behind; Good and Evil, amazing magic, real stakes, and a sense of wonder about the world. I LOVED when Ursula K. LeGuin lambasted the modern press for saying that “NOBODY has ever written a world like J.K. Rowling has!” And she’s like, Uh, C.S. Lewis – ?
Bika: Bread And Jam For Frances by Russell Hoban & Lillian Hoban (illus). When I was wee, I was a Bread and Jam for Francis kind of girl. I read several of the Francis books at my grandmother’s house and I liked the cute songs in them:
Jam on biscuits, jam on toast
Jam is the thing that I like most….
Raspberry, strawberry, gooseberry, I’m very
Fond… of… jam!
falconesse: The Country Bunny And The Little Gold Shoes by Du Bose Heyward & Marjorie Hack (illus). It’s an Easter story, but I read it pretty much year-round. Shit, this is probably my earliest foray into feminism, come to think of it. The Country Bunny is a single mom, taking care of her twenty-one children all by herself. They’re well-behaved, obedient kids. When she finds out there’s an opening for the Easter Bunny’s job, she goes and applies. The jackrabbits laugh at her, and ask who’s going to keep her house while she’s gone, and pretty much suggest this is a man’s job. She brings out the kids, shows how self-sufficient they are, then tells ’em to scatter. She rounds them up in record time, and the kindly Grandfather Bunny gives her the job.
She kicks ass at it, too. Take that, you jackrabbit jackholes!
The illustrations are also gorgeous. I remember spending forever on the pages where they describe the rooms filled with Easter eggs.
But really, let’s be honest. GIRL POWER.
Jeni: A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L’Engle. It was mailed to me by my estranged grandmother and it consumed my little preteen heart. I was always baffled by how well she knew me, without us having a chance to talk at all.
Anna: The Little House On The Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I devoured these books as a child – they were the tip of the iceberg for reading historical fiction, still my favorite genre of fiction books. I’ve burned through two different copies of both Little House on the Prairie and Little House on Plum Creek, having read them so many times they fell apart. (I’m still on the lookout for a really nice hardcover set.)