Growing up a girl means making friends with books


"If you have never spent whole afternoons with burning ears and rumpled hair, forgetting the world around you over a book, forgetting cold and hunger - If you have never wept bitter tears because a wonderful story has come to an end and you must take your leave of the characters with whom you have shared so many adventures, whom you have loved and admired, for whom you have hoped and feared, and without whose company life seems empty and meaningless - If such things have not been part of your own experience, you probably won't understand what Bastian did next."

--Michael Ende, 'The Never Ending Story'

My lifelong fascination with children's and young adult literature began when I was 12 years old. I had the flu and was cranky and bored, and my father went out to the bookstore and brought me back "Anne of Green Gables", by L.M.Montgomery. I was captivated by the imaginative redhead and her adventures with Diana and Gilbert. Another wonderful Anne page is here.

"Perhaps, after all, romance did not come into one's life with pomp and blare, like a gay knight riding down; perhaps it crept to one's side like an old friend through quiet ways; perhaps it revealed itself in seeming prose, until some sudden shaft of illumination flung athwart its pages betrayed the rhythm and the music; perhaps...perhaps...love unfolded naturally out of a beautiful friendship, as a golden-hearted rose slipping from its green sheath."

--L.M. Montgomery, 'Anne of Avonlea'

This quickly led me to other "girls classics". I have read "Little Women" by Louisa May Alcott at least fifty times. A series of books you may not have heard of (but need to find and read, now, if you enjoy girls' series) are the "Betsy-Tacy" books by Maud Hart Lovelace. You can join the Betsy-Tacy listserv, the Betsy-Tacy Society, or learn more about the author and the books here.

"Once a king or queen in Narnia, always a king or queen."

My favorite genre of writing is fantasy, and some of the best writing in this field is done by authors of children's books. I believe that the best series ever written, for children and adults, is "The Chronicles of Narnia" by C.S.Lewis. Another lovingly done page on Narnia is here.
Another brilliant fantasy author is Lloyd Alexander, author of the Prydain Chronicles. Someone finally made a Lloyd Alexander page! Click here for Sarah's one and only page on the Net devoted to this wonderful author. I also reread Patricia A. McKillip's books constantly. She wrote wonderful things like "The Forgotten Beasts of Eld" and "The Book of Atrix Wolfe".

Leslie took a deep breath. "This is not an ordinary place," she whispered. "Even the rulers of Terebithia come into it only at times of greatest sorrow or of greatest joy. We must strive to keep it sacred. It would not do to disturb the Spirits."
--'Bridge to Terabithia' by Katherine Paterson

Several of my favorite authors are also Newbery Award winners. Robin McKinley won for "The Hero and the Crown". She also wrote "The Blue Sword", "Deerskin", and "Beauty", among others. Her books are beautiful in tone and language and sweep you away into other worlds.
"Bridge to Terabithia" is a truly incredible, touching book by Katherine Paterson. It was also made into a TV movie for Wonderworks on PBS. Support your local public television station!
Other favorite Newbery Award winners of mine are Lois Lowry's"The Giver" and Madeleine L'Engle's "A Wrinkle In Time". A terrific page devoted to L'Engle's "Time" books and her other series is here.

"If she could give love to IT perhaps it would shrivel up and die, for she was sure that IT could not withstand love. But she, in all her weakness and foolishness and baseness and nothingness, was incapable of loving IT. Perhaps it was not too much to ask of her, but she could not do it.

But she could love Charles Wallace."

--Madeleine L'Engle, 'A Wrinkle In Time'

How can you grow up and not love L.Frank Baum? His "Oz" books filled many a rainy, lazy day for me. Although I love the movie, the books have given me far more hours of enjoyment over the years. Meet a whole bunch of people who feel the same way here.

"All the world will be your enemy, Prince with a Thousand Enemies, and whenever they catch you, they will kill you. But first they must catch you, digger, listener, runner, prince with the swift warning. Be cunning and full of tricks and your people shall never be destroyed."

--'The Story of the Blessing of El-ahrairah' from "Watership Down by Richard Adams.

My favorite book of all time is hard to classify as either children's or adult. I read it for the first time at age 11, but have to say I didn't truly understand it until I was much older. Richard Adams' "Watership Down" is a complex tale of life through the eyes of a rabbit warren, and it is one book I can definitely say affected the way I think forever. I recommend it to book lovers of all ages. Some amazingly determined and lucky people have even traveled to England and visited the sites where the book takes place. Visit their websites and read their tales and look at their lovely pictures here and here.

I will admit to reading primarily what most people would call "books for girls", but in the last year I have started to branch out. Most recently I have read two books by Adam Rapp, "Missing the Piano" and "The Buffalo Tree". One takes place in a military academy and one in a juvenile hall, and both have boys as the main protagonist. They are written in a straightforward manner, often in the language of kids today, and each delivers a subtle but powerful message. If you know a boy who doesn't enjoy reading, get him one of these books. They may just change his mind.

Books have changed and improved my life in more ways than I can count. Please support your local library, and start your children off on the right foot by introducing books at an early age. It is a habit they will never be able to fall out of. back home
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"Things must happen when it is time for them to happen. Quests may not simply be abandoned; prophecies may not be left to rot like unpicked fruit; unicorns may go unrescued for a long time, but not forever. The happy ending can not come in the middle of a story."
"There are no happy endings, because nothing ends."
----"The Last Unicorn" by Peter S. Beagle.

Please write me if you love these stories like I always have: Melange428@aol.com


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