We read it as a class in grade 8 (eighth grade if you're American), one chapter per week. The story was compelling - a boy and his dogs, full of adventure - so I read ahead. It was one of those situations where you can't help yourself so you zoom through the book, but you really don't want it to end so you lament seeing the last page approaching. I remember finishing the book so clearly. It was early evening, my parents were in the living room, and I was sitting on my sister's bed. She was playing legos or something. My heart broke. It really and truly felt as though it broke in my chest. The ending was so sad, so gripping, I didn't think I'd ever get over it. I cried so hard my dad come in the room t find out what was wrong.
There were other books in childhood that linger to this day: The Little white horse, The Little princess, Anne of Green Gables - all for their hint of fantasy and magic (not spells and potions, but wonder and delight). They fed my imagination and my desire to create stories that could bring the same experience to others.
The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings as well as Jane Eyre were important reading moments because they were my first foray into 'grown up' books. Oh, how Mr. Rochester infuriated and beguiled me! LOTR blew my mind wide open - the vastness of Tolkien's creation still astounds me.
When I was very wee, I had a set of books in Dutch about a little man who lived in a tree - a hole in the bottom of a tree trunk, not up in a tree house in the boughs. I love the woods to this day because of those books. I'd dearly love to track them down. I wonder what a Google search of "Dutch books about a man in a tree" would bring up?
We talk about books a lot here, but do tell me what are your strongest memories of childhood reading?
The little man in a tree is named Okkie Pepernoot. He's a one hundred year old elf (brownie? dwarf? Not sure on the translation). I found the series of books on the National library of the Netherlands' website, here
Somewhere there is a picture of me, about 3 years old, sitting in a little wooden chair in a courderoy jumper, white tights and knitted slippers, reading one of these books (I remember a white cover with red lettering) and a very serious scowl of concentration on my face..