We’ve got another new Blackbird making her debut post. Meet Sherrill Joseph. You can find out more about her here, and see her books here.
If you’re like me, you were inspired to become a better reader and a blossoming writer from one or more books you read as a child.
As a ten-year-old, I could usually be found curled up on my bed after school, engrossed in my favorite series, the Nancy Drew Mysteries. Along with my book, I had my go-to snacks handy, namely, an apple and a generous portion of Fritos. A napkin helped me keep the book pages clean since nothing was allowed to sully my best friend and heroine Nancy! I also had pencil and paper nearby to note new vocabulary words that I wanted to learn and use when I wrote mini adventures for Nancy and her friends.
On many evenings, my mother would repeatedly call me for dinner from the kitchen where my family was already seated and ready to dig into the meal that my dear grandmother had prepared. I used to pretend that “Gama” was Nancy’s live-in housekeeper, Hannah Gruen. Well, needless to say, I did not make an appearance. I was too cozy and lost in Nancy Land once again to hear my mom or anything. But suddenly, my book would go flying out of my hands! My mother, who had stormed into my room unbeknownst to me, said, “Sherrill, get your nose out of this book and come to the table!” I scurried off my bed to rescue Nancy and company from my mother’s grip before apologizing and following her to dinner. I would glance back at the book and say, “Don’t worry, Nancy. I’ll be right back and bring you some dessert.”
The Secret of the Samurai Sword and The Mystery of the Green Cat, both by Phyllis A. Whitney, were other mysteries I read over and over again as a child. Whitney’s books took me to other lands and paved the way when I would read Pearl S. Buck in high school and as an English major in college.
I can’t leave out The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I became the little orphan girl, Mary Lennox, who was sent from a cholera-stricken India to live with her hunchback uncle in a spooky Yorkshire, England, mansion. The house and garden ignited my imagination then and still. And the master gardener, Dickon, was the brother I never had but always wanted.
After college, I became a literacy teacher and over my thirty-five-year career, taught every grade K-12. What joy bringing these stories and more to my students’ reading. I would also use passages from them and other books as “mentor texts” to spark and improve their imaginative writings.
Now that I’m retired, what fun to realize a lifelong dream to be a published children’s mystery book author! Thank you, friend Nancy, Miss Phyllis, and Miss Frances. I couldn’t have done any of it without you.
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What a FUN post!
Some of my childhood favorites included HARRIET THE SPY (Louise Fitzhugh ), BLACK AND BLUE MAGIC (Zilpha Keatley Snyder), TIME AT THE TOP (Edward Ormondroyd ), and A WRINKLE IN TIME (Madeleine L’Engle).
Thanks, Laurie! It took me two reads to really understand A Wrinkle in Time. Good for you?
Great post, Sherrill! I read the entire Black Stallion series, Nancy Drew, and The Bobsey Twins. Spent many an hour reading and enjoying those other worlds!
Thanks, Margaret! Glad you liked my post. I remember The Bobbsey Twins, too! Since I was a twin, I preferred to read Nancy Drew, who was a “singleton.”
I so enjoyed this post! As a voracious childhood reader, many late night hours were spent on the floor reading with the hallway light that came under my bedroom door. It would be impossible to select a favorite book! I went on to become an elementary teacher (now retired) who minored in children’s literature. For two summers, I read all of the books on the Newberry Awards list in order to gain a personal perspective on what qualified a book to be award worthy. It was a fascinating undertaking to evaluate the evolution of these children’s classics. I was most intrigued with the dual level of one message for a reader who had not yet developed abstract thinking and a deeper, more subtle message for a mature reader. Thank you for your blog which made me smile in remembrance of childhood hours spent in other wonderful worlds! Also, I, too, kept a notebook of unknown words to look up!