the early years...
I have been an avid reader since birth - I think. (at least my mom tells me that). I certainly preferred reading to playing outside. My best friend in elementary school didn't own a TV. Sometimes I would go home with her on a Friday afternoon to stay the night. We would always hit the library to pick out a Nancy Drew book or the newest Baby Sitters Club before getting on the bus. Some of my favorite memories are sneaking flashlights under the covers to read our books when we were supposed to be sleeping.
But my real love of reading was developed in the sixth grade. I had a new teacher named Mrs. Freeman. She was supposed to teach English, social studies, and science, but I am pretty sure all we did was read. She set up bean bags in the back of the room, and we were allowed to go lounge with our free reading book whenever we finished an assignment. I tore through books, so from the very beginning she started bringing me books from her house to read. I soon found out that she was also an author. The final book she brought me to read that year was her own. I was the first person to ever read it, and I remember feeling so special. ( I don't think it was ever published--at least I can't find it anywhere)
Some of my favorite books were ones that I read that year. So for my first installment of Book Worm, I thought I would share two of my all-time favorite books from sixth grade, a tribute to Mrs. Freeman.
The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles by Julie Andrews Edwards (YES it is the same Julie Andrews from The Sound of Music). This was the book that made me love fantasy. I have read it a dozen times since I first got it. The story is about three children and a professor who gain access to a land full of fanciful creatures through their imaginations. They have to save the Whangdoodles (of course) who are in danger because no one believes in them anymore. Lord of the Rings and Narnia would be the adult counterpart to this adolescent fantasy.
Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast by Robin McKinley. I am a sucker for re-crafted fairy tales. I think I loved this book even more because I identified with the main character. In this re-telling, there are three sisters--Beauty is the ironic nickname of the youngest since she is the least pretty. What she lacks in beauty she makes up for in intelligence and a love of books. The style of the writing is really engaging and transports you to a different time. The books by Gregory Maguire (Wicked, Mirror, Mirror etc) would be the adult counterpart to this fairy-tale.
Even though I read these books when I was 11, I recommend them with just as much passion as any "grown-up" book. I hope you enjoy :)