Since I was a child, I’ve been an admirer of books. I used to live in a small town in the middle of nowhere, so going to a bookstore had been something rare. And it was a massive privilege for me. Whenever I went to a bookstore (which only happened once or twice in a year), I gave my mom a heart attack for a stack of books I carried to the cashier. I’ll always thank my parents for letting me grow up with books as my friends, because heaven knows I’ve never been the world number one conversationalist.
So these are the authors of my dear friends who have accompanied me through my childhood, brought me to faraway places I’ve never been to (and later become the places I swear I’ll visit before I die), and filled my head with the best things a child could ever imagine:
Enid Blyton is one of the author whose books had fascinated me in the early time of my childhood. She’s British and well-known for her children books that have been translated to many languages and spread around the world. I think my love for Britain has grown ever since I read her masterpieces like Famous Five, The Secret Seven, The Malory Towers series, The St. Clare series, The Naughtiest Girl series, and every other book. I collect every single thing she wrote and up until now, I never get bored reading them. I remember when I pretended to be a wild adventurer with sandwiches for lunch like Anne in Famous Five, or when I begged my mom to send me to a boarding school because it seemed fun when I read about Pat and Isabel in St. Clare.
Ann M. Martin
Ann M. Martin might be not as famous as Enid Blyton, but I still enjoy her books. She wrote The Baby Sitters Club series (mind you, the series itself has more than a hundred books!) that have a strong American atmosphere as much as Blyton’s British atmosphere, which I really love. The BSC story revolves around baby sitting (what else?) and teenage girls’ problems such as friendship, love, homework, parents, that kind of thing. Stated in a fictional little town called Stoneybrook, BSC reminds me so much of my teenage era which I spent in a little town as well, quite like Stoneybrook. My favorite baby sitters are Stacey for her sophisticated way of dressing and Dawn for her individual way of thinking and her healthy diet. I still read this book even when I’m 20 now, because somehow I always find some comfort in reading about teens’ lives, knowing that everything can be so simple yet fascinating, not like this fucked up world and its issues I’ve been living on. Recently I found a little bookstore that sells second-hand books, and when I went in, whoa. It has BSC books, which are pretty rare these days. So I bought every single book there and didn’t mind about the money spent because, hey, this is treasure. At least for me.
J. K. Rowling
Who doesn’t know Rowling and her dearest masterpiece, Harry Potter? Harry Potter is an orphan who finds out that he’s actually a wizard. He then spends his time in a wizarding school, Hogwarts. There he meets Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley, who later becomes his best friends. Throughout the series, Potter learns more about the wizard world, himself, and the secrets about his parents and his all time rival, Voldemort. I have to admit, I’m crazy about Harry Potter, if not deluded. I spent my childhood wishing I were a wizard. I memorized every spells in the book (like Alohomora, Wingardium leviosa, Petrificus totalus, Expelliarmus, and so on). I made a spell dictionary and herbs dictionary. I made a Hogwarts Map. I made the Black family tree and hung it on my bedroom wall. I named my classes just like Hogwarts classes in my schedule (like Herbology for Biology, Ancient Rune for English, Arithmancy for Math, you get the idea). I cried when I read the last book, felt like I’ve lost one dear friend. What can I say? Rowling and her Harry Potter has win my heart, and millions other people in the world.
There’s a kind of book that can always attract me: diaries. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out why I love Moss’ Amelia’s Notebook. Amelia’s Notebook is about a fifth-grader Amelia and her problems like homework, her annoying sister Cleo, her demanding parents, and friends (or foe?) at school. She has to endure every girl’s problem: being invisible and dying to be popular. What I like about this notebook is the light story that Moss brought, along with cute pictures and handwriting so it looks as if it really was Amelia who wrote those things in her journal. You know other authors that try to make her book like a diary and fail? Well, this one is not like that. Thumbs up for the illustrator! It’s not a real piece of art or anything, but it looks like a child’s drawing, which gives it even more point. Diary of A Wimpy Kid or Dork Diaries still can’t beat this one, I think.
Jacqueline Wilson is another British author who has written so many children books I lost my count. My favorites are The Suitcase Kid, The Cat Mummy, and The Lottie Project. The Suitcase Kid is about a divorced kid, Andrea, who’s forced to choose to live with her mom or dad. She doesn’t want to choose, so instead she says she wanted to stay with them both. This arrangement makes her has to go back and forth between her mom’s house and her dad’s. If dealing with her parents’ divorce is bad enough, it was nothing until Andrea meets his wicked stepsister and her father’s new wife that soon will give her another step sibling. I admire Wilson for her ability in expressing a child’s feeling as vivid as this. On the other hand, The Cat Mummy is about a little girl, Verity, that adores her cat Mabel. Everything is fine until one day Mabel dies and Verity doesn’t have a heart to bury Mabel and say goodbye to her dearly cat. So instead, she mummify Mabel. Similar to The Suitcase Kid, The Lottie Project is about a kid named Charlotte who lives with a single mother and has to struggle when her mother loses her job. Not only that, she has to deal with her teacher that somehow has this negative feeling about her. She spills her complicated life on her school project about Victorian era, while she also worries about the money that’s running out and her mother who unexpectedly dates a nerd guy she dislikes. What I love about Wilson’s books is the illustration and the big letters (hell yeah, these books are really for children, but I enjoy it anyway), but most of all, it’s the way she makes me feel about the kid’s problems, their stressed and sad feelings, and the relief feeling when everything turns out okay (yes, because children books have to have happy endings, and that’s why I love it more than anything).
Another my all-time favorite: The Adventures of Tintin. Tintin is a kind-hearted journalist-slash-detective who travels a lot. He has a dog, Snowy, that keep him accompanied whenever he travels and goes into troubles. I can write a long list about why I like Tintin, but let me keep it simple. First, the amazing places that becomes the setting of the series. Tibet, Eugypt, South America, Europe, even the moon! It’s always fantastic to see those places and Tintin’s adventure. Second, the characters. Hello Captain Haddock, Twins Thompson and Thomson, and Professor Calculus, you guys bring so much laughter to the readers. Third, the illustration. Have I told you that I have a weak spot for colorful illustrations? Fourth, the storyline. I will never be able to put any of Tintin books down before I finish reading it. It brings so much thrill to my kid’s sense! Fifth, well, let me cut it here. The thing is, Tintin is timeless. My aunt has the complete series of Tintin books with the yellowish pages and old smell, and she still reads it every once in awhile. I just hope my children will like this book as much as their mom does, because this is another treasure.