By chance I picked up Katherine Paterson’s book The Invisible Child: On Reading and Writing Books for Children at the library. Isn’t that how all great book recommendations start? The best books are the ones you aren’t looking for, that you don’t know you even need to read. This is definitely on of them. The Invisible Child is a collection of speeches and talks that Paterson has given ranging from 1974 into the 2000s. It contains her Newbury and National Book Award speeches as well as a number of other talks from conferences.
This book has been stirring me to read the books I was inspired by as an adolescent. What books captured my attention, my mind, my heart when I was nine or ten years old? So I have returned to the books I have kept since childhood. Faithfully packing and unpacking through several moves. Books I can not get rid of, no matter how many yard sales I have. It’s not that I have good memories of these books, no, these books are my memories. So I have been gobbling up the Newbury Award winners of my youth: Katherine Paterson, Margeurite Henry, Elizabeth Enright, Elizabeth George Speare. I am trying to learn from them. Study their style, rhythm, what makes their characters so relatable and memorable. What is the rhythm of their sentences? How does the story unfold? I want to learn from these masters, mentors, but without copying. Of course, I’m also enjoying just reading them.
As I re-read these cherished books, Katherine Paterson’s words ring true, “There is something so comforting about the beloved books of childhood. When the uncertainties of life assail us, they stand as healing verities, and we can return to them again and again. But only, of course, if someone helped us to find those books when we were very young” (95).
That’s what I want to write. A book that captures that young imagination and tells that shy, introverted child there is adventure out there, or at least in here, between the pages. Life may be a bit boring and monotonous, but you can escape into a book filled with adventure and new worlds.
So I have made a start. First by filling my head with rich words from amazing authors, then by actually writing down the stories that are running through my head. We shall see what adventure awaits...