“I got my copy of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn when I was ten. It was given to me by an aunt who always treated me like an equal instead of child, so I took her selection with great gravitas. The first time I read it I fell in love with Francie as a child, when she spends hours reading books to escape the world around her. The book follows Francie and her family at many points in their lives, so each time I read the book I relate to different scenes –heartbreak, loss, change – depending on where I am in my own life.”
Reference and Instruction Librarian
The Green Knowe books by Lucy M. Boston
“When I was in school, I read books written by Lucy M. Boston and because of these books I now have a life-long interest in old houses and mysteries!
The series of six books deals with the fictional house, Green Knowe, which is based on the author’s real home in England, The Manor at Hemmingford Grey. The first two books, The Children of Green Knowe and The Treasure of Green Knowe, deal with a boy who stays with his Great-Grandmother, Mrs. Oldknow, at Green Knowe during school vacations. There he encounters the ghosts of children who lived in the house in previous centuries who help him solve mysteries.
In 2009 The Treasure of Green Knowe was made into a film starring Maggie Smith as Mrs. Oldknow. The film is entitled From Time To Time and here is the link to the movie trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=19bYsqvlXp0Though Lucy Boston has died, her son and his family still live in The Manor at Hemmingford Grey. The house is open for tours and there is a small gift shop. Here is the link: www.greenknowe.co.uk/When Lucy Boston’s son was young, she often invited his cousins to visit. His cousins insist that once they encountered French speaking ghosts!
These Green Knowe books are available at the College Park, Towson, Salisbury, and Bowie Libraries of the University of Maryland System.”
Ivy Patterson Owens (Cataloger, Langsdale Library’s Technical Services department)
“The one thing I can say about myself as a child was that I was completely ruled by my obsessions— “you’re on some new kick,” my mother would say—and that most of those obsessions were fueled by what I picked up from books.
My deepest and most prolonged childhood fixation occurred when I read On the Banks of Plum Creek by Laura Ingalls Wilder, one of the installments in her “Little House” series. My ‘70s-era exterior may have been wrapped in a red polyester dashiki and Toughskins bell bottoms, but in my imagination I was prancing around in gingham, petticoats, and a sunbonnet. In this book, part of the memoirs of Wilder’s pioneer-era childhood, Wilder and her family move to Minnesota and are forced to live in a “dugout.” If you aren’t aware of what a dugout is (which is not one of those insets that border baseball fields, by the way) it’s a weird one-room living space chiseled out from the side of an embankment—which the Ingalls family use as a stop-gap measure as they wait for their new frontier house to be built. Let me just say that I have never heard of any other person in America, at any other time in history, to take architectural cues from gophers and other subterranean wildlife in the construction of their dream home. While this seems like a questionable and no-frills living situation to a postmodern-era adult (The Ingalls family makes their windows for the dugout from greased paper, and they have to whitewash the dirt under their feet so it will resemble an actual floor), nothing could have captured my childish imagination more.
On the Banks of Plum Creek is also the Little House installment that most closely informs the storyline of the ‘70s-era television program Little House on the Prairie (and not, curiously, the book of the same title.) This, combined with the media’s and public’s obsession with “Bicentennial Fever”, acted as a perfect storm of information overload (as a 7-year-old, I was unaware that the events in the Revolutionary era and in On the Banks of Plum Creek were nearly a century apart.) I became so obsessed with historical America that my mother eventually hand-sewed me a pioneer-era girls’ outfit just to shut me up. I put on this lace-trimmed dress in a ditsy floral print, an apron, and a matching bonnet every day after school. I even went so far as to don this getup in public when we visited the US Capitol on a sightseeing trip one weekend. I climbed the steps to the Capitol, daintily lifting my skirt and petticoats so as to not trip on my way up. When I got to the top of the stairs, I turned around to get a good view of the Mall. Suddenly I was beset by the illumination of a dozen flashbulbs. Japanese tourists at the foot of the stairs couldn’t believe their luck: that a delusional little girl in a historical costume was twirling around on the Capitol steps. “Oh my God–it’s America on a stick!” they probably thought. Not prescient enough to realize that I should be embarrassed, instead I smiled, posed, and curtsied. The tourists may not have known it, but they had Laura Ingalls Wilder to thank for this Kodak moment.
Adele Marley, CirculationTechnician
I will never forget reading A Wrinkle in Time in the 4th grade, the description of the planet Camarotz, where the houses that were all alike, and children bouncing balls at the same time, it was fascinating, I can remember how it opened up the world of imagination to me, almost 40 years ago. That led me to embrace the radio theater style and create the outreach theater company Theater On The Air. An outreach theater company that did radio plays live for senior audiences in nursing homes, senior centers and retirement communities.
Brian Chetelat, Library Technician – Book and Document Delivery Department
As an elementary ed major in college I took a children’s literature class where I read all the Newbery Medal winners (well up to that point, now there are 30+ more!). . . From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler was my favorite among those. As a kid. . .Mr. Popper’s Penguins was definitely on the list!
Jeffrey Hutson, Associate Director for Public Services