“You have to bring the magic with you!”
This was what Barbara envisioned writing in an indignant letter to a newspaper (which shall remain nameless) that published a critical review of one of the Harry Potter movies. She felt that the reviewer had missed the spirit of Harry Potter by watching through a jaded adult’s eyes. And she believed in keeping the magic of childhood alive, whether through reading (and re-reading) children’s books, eagerly awaiting the arrival of the latest fantasy and science fiction movies, or delighting in a new children’s toy she’d discovered.
And no one entered the holiday season with more feelings of fun and anticipation. Barbara was easy to buy for — a silly-looking stuffed cat, a light saber, Bilbo/Frodo’s sword Sting, or some goofy joke ornament for her tree — all would be received with her characteristic throaty chortle. So it seems like a good moment to think about the magical worlds that opened up for many of us when we first encountered books as children. This was something Barbara never forgot, and throughout her life she could be seen buried in one children’s book or another, along with all the other books she was devouring. (She was a quick and avid reader.)
As you can see, Rosemary Wells’s Max and Ruby books rub shoulders with George MacDonald’s Princess and Curdie on her bookshelves — and every L.M. Montgomery or L. Frank Baum book ever published can be found tucked away somewhere or other. Some favorite series by women authors were accompanied by biographies, so that she could read about Montgomery or Alcott or Nesbit after reading what they’d written.
What were/are your favorite children’s books? It’s a great season to once again experience the magic of books — and the world — through a child’s eyes.