i was born in the year of magic

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Watercolor by Vicky L. Lorencen

Watercolor by Vicky L. Lorencen

I was born in the year of magic. Not many people can say that, but I can.  When I was born on March 4, 1963, amazing things were bubbling up in the realm of children’s literature. Beloved books like Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak were published in 1963. While I have no concrete evidence to connect my devotion to children’s books to the time I was born, who’s to say otherwise? (And just so you know, Theodor Geisel (aka Dr. Seuss) was born in March too–if that helps to convince you.)

The 1960s were what I consider the golden age of children’s literature. Picture books we now consider classics like The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle, The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats, Go Dog Go by PD Eastman, Amelia Bedelia by Peggy Parish, and Norman Bridwell’s Clifford the Big Red Dog and Bedtime for Frances by Russell Hoban were enjoyed by parents and children for the very first time. Junior high students feasted on freshly published novels we now cherish like Island of Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl and A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle.

Regardless of the era in which we are born or the format in which books are produced, I hope (and believe) children’s literature will always have an honored place in childhood. At an SCBWI National conference, I heard children’s novelist Margaret Peterson Haddix talk about the difference between the books we read as children and those we read as adults. She observed that as children we devoured our books. If we loved a book, we read it over and over and over again. We memorized it, pondered on it and carried it with us, in our small hands and in our hearts.

And she’s right. As children we build a cozy fort in our hearts for the books we love. Maybe it’s because as adults, fiction is a mirror of our experiences, but for children, books are our streak-free windows. They help us see and experience things for the very first time. And to a child, that feels like magic.

I was born in the year of magic. By re-reading the stories of my younger years and creating new ones, I plan to keep my inner child happy for many year to come.

I grabbed a pile of dust, and holding it up, foolishly asked for as many birthdays as the grains of dust, I forgot to ask that they be years of youth. ― Ovid, Metamorphoses

12 responses »

  1. When I was a kid, my best friend and I used to build forts in my room for reading. I can still picture myself curled up behind my bed or in the closet, poring over Pippi Longstocking. Your idea of “a cozy fort in our hearts for the books we love” brings me back to that time. Thanks for the delightful post.

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    • I’m glad you enjoyed my post, Buffy. Thank you for visiting–and for the image of you curled up with Pippi Longstocking. (You never tried a “Pippi”-do on your hair, did you? Can’t picture that!)

      Thank you for visiting.

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  2. And what’s wrong with the “Pippi” hairdo? I was told, on one crazy chestnut receiving day last fall (where growers bring in their thousand pounds of harvest for process into coolers) that my hairdo reminded one sweet girl that I looked like “Pippi”. Long clips into the hair give it that stylish look. All these books you mention bring back such memories of reading to my kids. They loved them all. And when we put on a play for Eric Carle at our little elementary school in Holt, I had made huge 6 foot opening books with his style art inside. Took 6 months of prep for a 15 minute skit. But, twas great! So, yes, Vicki, I know you were born in the magic year – I see stars all around you. 🙂 I think I’ll take Shutta’s suggestion today on illustrating a Sendak picture in the style of another famous illustrator. I found “The Miami Giant” by Arthur Yorinks and Maurice Sendak the other day on the bottom pile at Goodwill and character exudes from it. Maybe I’ll try out a Mercer Mayer style for this. That’ll bring back even more memories! Thanks for your great posts.

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  3. Oh ya, Happy Birthday – you got me so caught up in memories, I forgot that was the main purpose of my comment to you. Have a great one!

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  4. Ah, yes. Misty of Chincoteague. How many hours did I spend devouring that book and dreaming of my own wild pony? Even now, when I can’t sleep, I review images from it and it quiets my scattered brain. Thanks for the memories! OH! Happy 50! It’s the best year ever.

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    • I fell in love with the book The Golden Name Day by Jennie Lindquist. It wasn’t a super popular books, but I didn’t care. I read it over and over. The fun thing was, years later as an adult, one of my very best “grown up” friends told me that was her favorite book too. Kindred spirits!

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  5. You were born in the year of magic, Vicky, and you are radiant because of it. It’s interesting to see the books I read over and over as a child (Little Women, the Little House series) and how they shaped my opinions of how women “should” be. Thankfully, my daughter’s favorites are by Tamora Pierce, Cinda Chima, and J.K. Rowling, so her female role models are much feistier than mine were!
    Happy birthday, and thanks for the post!

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    • Hey! Thanks for visiting, Kris. I want to find a book I loved in 7th grade called, “I was a 98 Pound Duckling.” A teacher recommended it to me. (Who knows why?!) I’m curious to read it again through an adult’s eyes.

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