|Photo courtesy of PublicDomainPictures.net|
I've been thinking a lot about fantasy books lately, now that I've written one myself. Unlike my daughter, I do not read every single fantasy book that I can get my hands on, but I do enjoy flying away with fantasy every once in awhile, immersing myself in a magical world.
Some of my very favorite books when I was growing up were fantasies. Here are a few of them:
- The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum, 1900... I have to admit, my first experience with this story came at a very early age, watching the classic movie from 1939. When I got older and realized that my favorite movie was actually adapted from a book... and that, in fact, there were many other Oz books... I was thrilled! I read them all, several of the books more than once. I loved all the unusual characters and the colorful, whimsical land of Oz. I think the thing that appealed to me most, however, was that the main character, Dorothy, was a young girl like me. I always wished that I could go on an adventure like hers!
- The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien, 1937... Once again, I was introduced to this story through a movie, an animated one made for tv in 1977. Our family enjoyed the movie so much that my mom bought a record* of it. My sister and I listened to that record so many times, we memorized all the lines. (To this day, my sister can do a wonderfully creepy impression of Gollum... "My precious!") A few years later I came across a copy of the book at my grandma's and immediately began reading it. The rich language, the riddle "contest" between Bilbo and Gollum, and the scary dragon Smaug have all stuck with me over the years. *for my younger readers, a record is kind of like a CD
- The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, 1950+... My aunt gave me the complete set of seven books when I was ten, and I instantly fell in love with the world of Narnia. My parents just happened to have a wardrobe in their bedroom at the time. I couldn't even tell you how many, many times I opened its door and reached my hand inside, ever so slowly, hoping with all my heart that I would find Narnia inside. (I'm sad to say, I've never found it. Yet.) Since that time, I have re-read all seven books more times than I can count... mostly to myself, but I've also read them aloud three times, first to a group of children I worked with, and then twice to my own kids. Some of my favorite characters include Lucy, Aslan, Reepicheep, and Puddleglum.
- A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle, 1962... When I was in elementary school, our class watched a short animated film based on this book one day. Though I wasn't impressed with the animation, the story intrigued me, and I checked the book out from the library. I loved the female protagonist, Meg, and little Charles Wallace, the strange planets they visited, and the good vs. evil theme. I liked it so much, I ended up buying myself a copy of the book, along with 2 of the sequels, A Wind in the Door and A Swiftly Tilting Planet, which I also enjoyed. One of these days, I need to read the other two books in the series....
- The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle, 1968... A friend gave me a copy of this book, and right away I was drawn into the story of the sad unicorn, searching for others of her kind. She was my favorite character (what young girl doesn't love a unicorn?), but I enjoyed the others as well ~ from the mean witch, Mommy Fortuna to the bumbling Shmendrick to the noble Prince Lir.
Have you read any of these fantasy books? I'd love to hear what you like or don't like about them....