Here are just a few of the books that made me the writer I am.
Fox in Socks, by Dr. Seuss
What do you know about tweetle beetles? Well, I know an awful lot, actually. This is still one of my favorites, this is one of the few books that I know almost entirely by heart. I’ve always loved the incredible complexity Dr. Seuss achieves with a surprisingly limited set of words. I even find the relationship between the taunting Mr. Fox and the sluggish Mr. Knox rather touching. In our basement at home, I spent many hours playing the LP album (this was before audio books were common) in which Marvin Miller performs the book with Marty Gold’s orchestra. (You can check out that wonderful recording here.) In high school, I even performed Fox in Socks in a dramatic interpretation competition (OK, it was really just a chance to show how good I’d gotten at all of the tongue-twisters.)
Dr. Goat, by Georgiana
My family remembers Dr. Goat very fondly. He’s sadly out of print now, and not too likely to return, so I’m uploading it in full, for anyone interested. Click on the cover or here to enjoy a charming rhyme by the mysteriously-named Georgiana and beautiful, amusing illustrations by Charles Clement.
The Contented Little Pussy Cat by Frances Ruth Keeler
I never would have wanted to be a writer if I hadn’t first fallen in love with books as a reader. I’ve been fascinated by books and words since our next-door neighbor read me this book. I remember being captivated by the word contented. I loved the idea that it meant sort of the same thing as happy, but not exactly the same thing. I still do.
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
I don’t know where to begin to talk about this one, so I’ll just say that I’m awfully fussy about adaptations, far preferring the original version (and the great Tenniel illustrations). So it surprised me when I fell head-over-heels for David Del Tredici’s orchestra fantasia Final Alice when I first saw it in Cleveland in, I think, 1976. You can listen to the very moving last song from that piece here. “Life what is it but a dream?”