Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Reliving My Childhood Through Books

by Stephanie Black

I just finished reading Robert C. O’Brien’s novel The Silver Crown to my son. I’ve loved this book ever since my sixth grade teacher read it to our class, and I enjoyed sharing it with my son. In the book, ten-year-old Ellen gets a mysterious silver crown and her life turns upside down. Her house gets blown up. Bad guys are chasing her. She wants desperately to get to safety at her Aunt Sarah’s house in Kentucky. Instead, she ends up at a creepy castle/school hidden in the woods where a magical machine created centuries ago is at work carrying out an evil plan of world domination. The machine’s minions will stop at nothing to get their hands on Ellen’s silver crown, an artifact even more powerful than the machine. Yep, Ellen’s in a pickle. It’s a fun story and it was even more fun watching my son’s interest and excitement as the story unfolded.

At the library yesterday, I was in the children’s section with my kids, and on the shelf I saw the book Jane-Emily by Patricia Clapp. I was thrilled. “I love this book!” I exclaimed, thrusting it upon my thirteen-year-old daughter. She probably thought I was nuts to get so excited about a book, but I haven’t seen this book in years and didn’t realize the library stocked it. Here’s the story: eighteen-year-old Louisa Amory goes with her nine-year-old orphaned niece, Jane, to live with Jane’s grandmother for the summer. Creepy things start to happen, and it becomes apparent that the spirit of Emily, the long-dead twelve-year-old daughter of Jane’s grandmother, is determined to wreak her selfish, evil will on the living—and she’s especially interested in Jane.

I loved these books as a kid and still love them. In fact, many of my favorite books are children’s or YA books. Here are a few more favorites of mine:

The Westing Game, by Ellen Raskin. Rich old businessman Samuel W. Westing has died—was he murdered?—and his fortune will go to whichever of his colorful cast of heirs can unravel the clues and solve the Westing Game.

The Witch of Blackbird Pond, by Elizabeth George Spear. Sixteen-year-old Kit Tyler leaves her home in Barbados and settles in Puritan-era Connecticut. Struggling to adjust to her strange new home, Kit makes misstep after misstep. Eventually her compassion for a lonely old woman leads to her being accused of witchcraft.

A Swiftly Tilting Planet, by Madeleine L’Engle. This is the third book in the series that started with A Wrinkle in Time. I loved Wrinkle, but the third book is my favorite. Boy genius Charles Wallace joins forces with unicorn Gaudior to save the world from a madman. He travels through time in his quest to bring about the change that will save the world of the future.

Secret Agents Four, by Donald J. Sobol. This is one of the funniest books I have ever read, the kind of book where not only is the plot fun and intriguing, but every line is a delight. Written by the creator of Encyclopedia Brown, Secret Agents Four is the tale of spy wannabe Ken Mullins and his friends, Orv. Bo and Horseshoes. Ken’s father works for government agency Mongoose, so Ken and company create their own teenage secret spy group--VACUUM (Volunteer Agents Crusading Unsteadily Under Mongoose). Their goal: to battle the evil forces of Cobra and thwart their plot to wreak havoc on Miami.

What books did you love in childhood that you still love now?


At 4/04/2007 1:27 PM, Blogger Mean Aunt said...

The Westing Game is my all-time fav and SEcret Agents Four just slays me.

Others are

From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E Frankweiler (Konisburg)

By the Great Horn Spoon
Mr Mysterious and Company (Sid Fleischman)

and Laura Ingalls

At 4/04/2007 1:32 PM, Blogger robisonwells said...

Last week I bought The Phantom Tollbooth for my daughter. She's probably a little young to understand most of it, but she's loving it so far. And it's fun to read to her.

I'm ashamed to say that I couldn't get into A Wrinkle in Time as a kid, and have never gone back to read it. I saw a movie of it, though, and it was craptacular.

At 4/04/2007 1:38 PM, Blogger Tristi Pinkston said...

Rob, you can't base your opinion of the book from the stupid movie. Read the book, man!

Oh, and now that I'm done Rob-bashing, my favs growing up were "Heidi," "Alice in Wonderland," and "Little House on the Prairie" series. I still have the copies I had when I was a child and am sharing them with my daughter.

At 4/04/2007 1:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, man, I remember Secret Agents Four! Orv has his own airplane, right, from WWI, and wanted to invent a snow-melting sidewalk for the poor people up north? And Ken's right ear is flatter than his left ear because he sleeps on that side? Great book! Funny that parts of it still go through my mind at odd times!

I read all the Madelein L'Engle books, but I think A Wrinkle in Time is my personal favourite of the series.

I absolutely loved The Children of Green Knowe, by Lucy M. Boston, and my second favourite book of hers was The Stones of Green Knowe. It wasn't until I was an adult, however, that I found out the series was based on the actual house where she lived in England.

I could reminisce all day about the many books I read when I was young, but I'm trying to remember the ones I still love now as an adult. I've grown out of some beloved books, and others I remember fondly, but I haven't read them since childhood, so I don't know if they still count.

Melanie Goldmund

At 4/04/2007 3:36 PM, Blogger Stephanie Black said...

Yep, Orv had a WWI airplane. And a snow-melting machine that blew up. I thought Secret Agents Four was out of print--my copy is an ancient one that my sister bought used--but when I looked on Amazon, it looks like it's been reprinted. Hooray!

At 4/04/2007 4:02 PM, Anonymous Jennie said...

My favorites: Where the Red Fern Grows, Black Stallion, Mrs. Mike, House on the Prairie, Huckleberry Finn, Boy of the Limberlost, Cowgirl Kate, Tiger! Tiger! and all of the Trixie Beldon, Nancy Drew, and Hardy Boys books I could get my hands on. I read a lot of Tarzan and Greek mythology too, but I grew out of those by the time I hit my teens. A lot of books used to be introduced in serial form in magazines and I had better access to magazines than books, so my childhood reading included whatever the current book happened to be in farm magazines, Saturday Evening Post, Readers Digest, McCalls, and Ladies Home Journal, the Relief Society Magazine, and the Children's Friend. Come to think of it, I still read almost anything--including cereal boxes and directions, but LDS fiction is definitely my favorite.

At 4/05/2007 12:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Strange... I seem to have read all of these books. In fact, I read most of them two or three times, except for Jane-Emily, which you gave to me yesterday. Maybe this has something to do with the fact that I'm your daughter.

At 4/05/2007 12:37 AM, Blogger Annette Lyon said...

Rob, Rob, Rob. A Wrinkle in Time is the best. I also loved From the Mixed up Files--probably my all time favorite up to 4th Grade. I also scooped up pretty much anything by Beverly Clearly and Judy Blume. (I credit the former--and a little guy named Ralph S. Mouse) for getting me writing. Loved the Narnia books. I read LOTR in 5th grade and didn't realize that was unusual at the time. But sorry, Tristi. Disney ruined me for Alice in Wonderland for me. To me, that's just a freaky story. I just can't get myself to like it.

At 4/05/2007 12:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the suggestions. There are some of these books that I have never heard of. Hopefully my library will have them.

I grew up reading Encyclopedia Brown, Nancy Drew, Trixie Belden, Judy Blume, Beverly Cleary, Lloyd Alexander, Ursula LeGuin, and Elf Quest comics. The Westing Game is one of my favorites now. I enjoyed the fantasy and mystery books the most.

I find I read more YA books than others at this point in my life. They tend to be shorter, which works well with my little kids!


At 4/05/2007 2:54 PM, Blogger C.L. Hanson said...

I'm always glad to see a plug for The Westing Game. It's one of my all-time favorite books and doesn't get nearly the publicity it deserves IMHO. :D

At 4/05/2007 6:47 PM, Blogger Karlene said...

Oh my gosh! I LOVED The Silver Crown. In fact, that was the book that made me decide I wanted to be a writer. The very first story I ever wrote was about giant green ants taking over our world, but the second one was called The Silver Coin--total rip-off of the crown, but I choose to see it as a personal tribute to that's book greatness. What is so disappointing is that I tell people about that book and they look at me with these blank vacant stares--most people have never heard of it.

I also loved Harriet the Spy, the Mushroom Planet series by Cameron, and most of the other books the rest of you have mentioned.

At 4/05/2007 7:16 PM, Anonymous Michelle said...

Oooh! I love Jane-Emily! I bought an old beat up copy at a used book store and made my daughter read it. I still pull it out and read it once a year.


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