The two books that most enchanted me as a young reader were, The Wind in the Willows, by Kenneth Grahame, and Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson. I adored these books when I first read them, and have esteemed them as much, if not more over the years I have reread them and reread them. Both British, both exquisitely written, I have no doubt that I could never written The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, without Stevenson’s book in me. Nor would I have written the Poppy books without first reading about Mole and Rat, Badger and Mr. Toad.
To reread them now, as I’ve just done yet again, is a deeply humbling experience. Oh, how I wish I could write as well. Half as well! One of the qualities of truly great writing is that it seems so effortless, even as it is brilliant, and insightful, suggesting that these writers just sat down and spun out these marvelous tales. Not so of course. I know that. I really do. Or so I tell myself who struggle so.
It is good, I think, for writers to return from time to time to those books we loved, book, which made us want to read and write. It’s like returning to early favorite teachers, those teachers we loved and remember. One wants to say, “Hello, do you remember me? You made me love to read, and want to write. Thank you. I hope you like what I have done. Not as good as you, I know. But I keep trying. I really do.”