Finding the Words

a blog devoted to the art, craft, and frustration of writing

back to the formative years March 28, 2007

Filed under: writing — itsy @ 5:54 pm

I’ve been reading a lot of kid’s books lately, some old favorites and some new ones I haven’t heard of.

As a child I hated reading. In fact, my mother would drag me through the house, force me to sit at my desk and read. I’m not sure why I hated it so much, maybe it had more to do with my mom’s aggressive attitude than anything else, but probably too it seemed such a chore, and I would much rather have played with my stuffed animals (my sister and I had boxes and boxes of them).

I remember one of these nights, tears in my eyes, resentfully opening a new book required by my English class. I read the first page. I liked it, though I didn’t want to admit it to my mother, who was sitting on my bed watching me. After I had done the assigned reading and my mom left me in peace I reopened the book and read some more. I couldn’t put it down. The book was Lloyd Alexander’s The Book of Three, and it changed my life.

As an adult I read the rest of the series (there are 5 in all), and was astonished by how mature some of the themes were: sacrifice, loss, hope against all odds, but also faith, hope, and love. It’s no mystery this book hit a chord with me–these are the same themes that move me now.

Currently I’m reading Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones, and am thinking to myself, gosh darn it, this is the book I wanted to write. Because in some way children’s literature will always be the holy grail for me, and if I can write a good kid’s book I’ll feel my life is complete.

Next on my list, The Dawn of Fear, by Susan Cooper (I love The Dark is Rising series). I read the first chapter–it’s a dark story, as conveyed by the title, taking place in WWII Britain. I admire authors who take on a difficult topic like war and make it understandable. The first scene starts out with a air raid, but the miraculous thing is, kids are kids are kids, and these are completely believable. Also will read Redwall by Brian Jacques.

Any recommendations? What were some of the books that moved you as a kid?

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