Dear me, how I love this conversation! Thank you all for chiming in with your great (and nostalgia-inducing) lists of the wonderful children's books of your lives! Made me feel like I was a kid again — right back at the Oliver Wolcott Library (that building which was my babysitter, my muse, my other mother) buried in a pile of stories, hiding from the world.

Reading all the old familiar characters and titles again inspired me to compile this response — my flash-response mini-reviews/reactions to those dear old classics. Here goes, and feel free to sing out your own reviews and memories!

The Wizard of Oz — My origin story.

Alice in Wonderland — My nightmare.

Nancy Drew — My compulsion. (Although I always identified more with cowardly Bess than stalwart Nancy, I'm afraid.)

Pippi — My hero (although she also intimidated me a bit, because she was so INCREDIBLY brave. She reminded me of the really ballsy girls on the playground whose jungle gym antics alarmed me so much.)

Laura Ingalls Wilder — I identified with her so hard, I forgot that I wasn't her. She does not exist separately from me, in my memories of childhood.

Anne of Green Gables — My secret imaginary best friend.

Ramona — My secret imaginary little sister.

Jo March — The little woman I aspired to someday be. (I still aspire to be her.)

Lucy Pevensie — I was terrified for her. But I loved her.

Meg Murray — I was terrified for her. But yes, I loved her, and I loved her wrinkle in time.

ANYONE IN A JUDY BLUME BOOK — My twin, my anguish.


ANYONE IN A JOAN AIKEN BOOK — My dark fantasy.

Wendy — A goody-goody. Annoyed me. Preferred Peter Pan.

Max — I have never wanted to go Where the Wild Things Are. (Again: fear of chaos. Though I liked that one monster with the big human feet because he reminded of my dad.)

Velveteen Rabbit — Just kill me now. How is this even a children's story? It's SO F-CKING SAD!

Watership Down — Destroyed me. But I loved it. I will start sobbing right now if I read even 3 pages of it.

Hermione — I only met her as an adult, but I feel like I knew her as a child. She has a bit of the eternal about her.

Fern — God bless dear patient Fern, and Charlotte, and Wilbur, and mostly God bless E.B. White. (Remind me to someday tell you my favorite E.B. White story.)

Walter the Lazy Mouse — Identified with him completely. I was a lazy child, and, after reading this book, feared my parents would forget that I existed and abandon me.)

Boxcar Children — Wanted to be one!

The Littles — Wanted to be one!

Harriet the Spy — Terribly bad influence on me. (I imitated her and got in huge trouble. I think this happened to a lot of girls. Somehow I missed the moral lesson in the end, and had to learn it myself.)

Amelia Bedelia — Filled me with joy.

Toad and Mole and Rat — Filled me with a pleasantly boring sense of pastural English peace.

Peter Rabbit — Ditto.

Harold and the Purple Crayon — TERRIFYING. (He steps into the VOID, people!!!)

Cat in the Hat — A horrifying, dangerous anarchist. He gets children in trouble! From the age of 3, I knew to fear and loathe both him and the disorder he brings.

Horton — On the other hand, a good guy. Totally solid, that Horton.

LASTLY, I have to dedicate this post to a girl who is not a character of books, but born of TV, but whom I perhaps identify with most of all, above and beyond all others:

Ms. Lisa Simpson — The Self of My Self, The Center of My Center.

Magic dreams,

PS — Hey, can I borrow some of your kids to read to? This conversation is making me long for a fresh-from-the-bath child in footie-pajamas to perch in my lap.(Or maybe I am just want to BE a fresh-from-the-bath child in footie-pajamas, perched in someone else's lap! Can I borrow a lap, then?)

via Elizabeth Gilbert’s Facebook Wall