Friday, January 25, 2008

Booking through Whatever Day This Is

This week's question, from Booking Through Thursday:

What’s your favorite book that nobody else has heard of? You know, not Little Women or Huckleberry Finn, not the latest best-seller . . . whether they’ve read them or not, everybody “knows” those books. I’m talking about the best book that, when you tell people that you love it, they go, “Huh? Never heard of it?”

I like this one a lot, because most of my childhood favorites resonate with no one else but me, then or now. Growing up, my favorite books were Lloyd Alexander's Prydain Chronicles (well-known but not terribly hot in my elementary school); L.M Montgomery's The Blue Castle, which may not have even been available in the United States; and several books by Zilpha Keatley Snyder.

In fourth grade, we had to pick one of our favorite authors and write a letter to him or her. I picked Zilpha Keatley Snyder. My teacher had never heard of her, but I was incredibly honored when she wrote back. I got a pre-printed letter with a photo of her and what we would now call a FAQ, but she wrote me a note addressing a question about how a dowsing rod worked, and even drew me a picture! Pretty cool.

From an adult perspective, I would say that the books I liked the best by her (The Egypt Game,The Changeling, and The Headless Cupid) were about older children who played elaborate games and dealt with the real world of complicated friendships, family issues, and just plain growing up through these games. As a kid, though, these books were no less than blueprints. The characters in all of those books, to me, had gotten close to that something else that I was sure was waiting for me, perhaps just through an old wardrobe or maybe even through a picture I drew myself on the sidewalk. I read The Changeling over and over, I tried to become a witch one summer like the people in The Headless Cupid so that I could commune with spirits, and I played The Egypt Game for a little while too.

But for some reason, no one else did. Her books didn't catch on, and I wonder if they're still read, or if she's still writing. I haven't read them in years, but they'll always have a special place in my heart.


EnnaVic said...

What a wonderful post - you make me want to chase her books up and read them. I loved the Prydain Chrionicles too - and Susan Cooper's The Dark is Rising series. I always link those two together in my head for various reasons :)

Happy Late BTT! (I was even later *sigh*)

Jenny said...

I've (heard of but) never read Zilpha Keatley Snyder; however, I absolutely adore The Blue Castle. That scene where she's at dinner with her relatives is one of my favorite scenes in all of literature.

Keetha said...

What a great question! I'll have to think on it.