As a kid and a teenager I read a lot. I remember taking home five to seven books every week from the library of the small town I was living in. I was scared that someday I would have finished all the books and there wouldn’t be anything left to read. Luckily that never happened.
Whitehorse poet Jamie Sharpe never worried about running out of reading material: as a kid he liked to study the Encyclopedia Britannica.
“I remember the day my parents tracked down an Encyclopedia Britannica set in the Bargain Finder – yesteryears’ Craigslist – and (put it) in my room,” Sharpe says. “Although I’m sure I had lots of kids’ books at the time, what mishaps befell Charlie in a Chocolate Factory was far less interesting to me than trying to find out How much does a blue whale weigh? or What does the flag of Bermuda look like?”
But he also enjoyed all of John Bellairs’ books, including The House with a Clock in Its Walls and The Mummy, the Will, and the Crypt. Bellairs was an American fantasy and mystery writer. The House with a Clock in Its Walls tells the story of Lewis Barnavelt who lives with his mysterious uncle, who turns out to be a warlock.
I was curious to find out if mystery-writer Marcelle Dubé read a lot of the genre as a child. But she says that she loved reading Jack London’s White Fang and Call of the Wild, Jules Verne’s Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea and Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince.
“The stories that really fired my imagination were Grimm’s fairy tales – sanitized, of course – and Lafontaine’s fables.”
Dubé read books in English and French.
“As I was growing up, my parents were still learning each other’s language: my Mom is English, Dad is French,” she says.
Dubé says one book stood out for her: Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink. It’s a novel for children about a tomboy named Caddie who experiences a series of adventures in the Wisconsin woods.
“As a child I wanted to be smart and brave like her,” Dubé says.
Children’s books provide great role models. For author Jessica Simon it was Harriet the Spy a book by Louise Fitzhugh published in 1964. Harriet lives in New York and wants to be a writer when she is a grown up. She observes her classmates and writes notes about them.
“I read the book until the pages fell out. I was Harriet. I even still have a blue hoodie that I cherish and all my notebooks,” Simon says.
Simon says she didn’t have many friends as a kid, but she did have a lot of time to read – and loved reading. While growing up she read classics like George Bernard Shaw: “He was my favourite playwright. What that guy could do with English fascinated me.”
Although Simon has written short stories and From Ice to Ashes – the first book in a adventure-crime series about detective Markus Fanger. The second part is set to be published in 2017 – that type of book didn’t catch her attention until she was older.
“Oddly, I didn’t read many mysteries as a kid, although I seem to be making up for it now,” she says. Simon currently works on book three of the series.
“I think, like most writers, I read a lot as a child and still carry many of those memories and images around with me as an adult,” Joanna Lilley says.
She is currently working on poems about extinct and endangered animals and received an Advanced Artist Award from the Government of Yukon this year to help her with the research.
“I care about animals a great deal, and have done as long as I remember, and I’m sure all the books I read as a child had something to do with that,” says Lilley.
As a kid she loved Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White and Moshie Cat by Helen Griffiths, which is a book about a rejected kitten.
Her favorite author while growing up was Joyce Stranger, who wrote novels about animals and their relationships with humans.
She also read a lot of Enid Blyton’s books as a child, such as the Famous Five and the Adventure Series. Thinking about her favourite children’s books, Lilley remembers how much she loved the cozy feeling of being absorbed in a book.
“I loved Enid Blyton so much I kept reading her books over and over again, to the point that my mother took them all away from me and put them in a battered grey suitcase in the attic. She wanted me to move on in my reading. I don’t remember if she locked the suitcase or not but I do remember finding it and sneaking the books back down to my room,” she says.