My own early memories of the magic of children’s books involve two Mrs. Johnsons. One was my mother. I don’t remember her reading to me a great deal, but I do remember sitting next to her on the camel-colored sofa while she read Old Mother West Wind stories out of nicely-thick volumes with green covers. And I remember her patiently listening to me read aloud to her…endlessly. The pleasure of sharing a story rather than living it all by myself was always keen with me, and my mother was a saint, allowing me to follow her around the house with my books.
The other Mrs. Johnson was the children’s librarian at my small-town, northern-Minnesota library. Down the wide, granite steps to the basement, she sat at her wooden desk, greeting us in her quiet library voice, stamping our date due slips with her Extremely Cool date stamp, tucking the cards into her filing system with our names on the borrower’s line. I loved Mrs. Johnson and the room full of books she reigned over.
Once Upon a Time is a collection of recollections; memories of the impact of books in the childhoods of some of the most loved children’s authors and illustrators. There are personal vignettes, poems, illustrations, excerpts from more than two dozen of your favorite magic-makers, including Jean Fritz, Trina Schart Hyman, Ashley Bryan, and Arnold Lobel.
I find it fascinating to peek inside the worlds of these creative people and see the first sparks of imagination which have grown to enrich each one of us. If you’d like any inspiration for feeding children on books, this is a sweet well to dip into, or, if your children are acquainted with these authors/illustrators, they may also enjoy finding out some of the details of their childhoods and how sometimes the quirkiest, or most troubling pieces of our lives prompt beauty and creativity.
Here’s the Amazon link for this book: Once upon a Time…Celebrating the Magic of Childrens Books in Honor of the Twentieth Anniversary of Reading Is Fundamental