Why? It seems that there are two types of childhood/teen book-loves in my life: the books I loved that lots of other people loved too, and so I hear about them and can talk about the wonderfulness of said books all the time (for ex, anything by Roald Dahl, THE TRUE CONFESSIONS OF CHARLOTTE DOYLE, THE BLUE SWORD, TUCK EVERLASTING), and the books that no one else ever mentions, leaving me wondering whether others share my love or have even ever read them.
So this week I'm going to honor the latter books in a series of posts. If you've read the book, let's talk about it! If you haven't, consider each post my recommendation that you run out and grab a copy Right Now. :)
First up, the book I'd consider my absolute favorite from my childhood:
(Where possible I've found the cover image that was on the book when I originally read it; I couldn't find that cover for this book. The one you see is on the copy I now own.)
What it's all about:
Martha is known for being a "mouse" and a crybaby; her older siblings love to tease her. Then she meets Ivy, the wild and imaginative girl whose family is always coming and going from the run-down mansion just outside town. With Ivy she embarks on a series of adventures, from saving an oil-covered duck to rescuing a beloved horse from the dog food factory, and discovers that in the imaginary world they create together, she can be heroic in ways she never imagined possible. But the rest of the town looks down their noses at Ivy's family, and even Martha's parents discourage the friendship. Can Martha be the strong, courageous person Ivy brings out in her and stand up to them, even when Ivy's not there?
Why it is awesome:
If THE CHANGELING has a message, it's that every person has inner strength, and can be powerful in their own way. As a kid who was a lot like Martha, shy and dreamy, I found that wonderfully affirming. I just wished I had a friend like Ivy to bring all that that in me! The characters are vividly drawn and believable. The book is full of gorgeous illustrations. And best of all--especially for us writers--the story's full of the magic of story-telling. It's through their love of the make-believe that Martha and Ivy bond, and develop the ability to deal with difficult situations in the "real" world. Three cheers for imagination!