Mary Pom Claiborne from the Knox County Library asked me to share some memories about my favorite children’s books. Here is what I submitted:
Reading has always been important in my life. Before I was born, my father worked as a newspaper reporter and my mother was a schoolteacher. There were always a lot of books and periodicals around our house.
I grew up in Yonkers, New York, near the Crestwood Library. Sheila and Nancy Waters, two sisters who are librarians, encouraged my interest in reading.
One year, we staged a play at the end of the library’s Summer reading program. I played Dr. Dolittle and my sister played Peter Pan. Other kids played Huck Finn, Charlie Bucket, Heidi and the Wizard of Oz. I remember reading not just The Story of Dr. Dolittle and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz but many of the sequels too.
My favorite series of books was about Freddy the Pig and his animal friends on the Bean Farm. Not only did the animals talk, they had their own newspaper! Freddy tried different jobs, often solving a case or bringing about justice. The books were already out of print by the time I read them. If it weren’t for the copies in the library, I would have never found them.
In the play, my friend Mary Theresa and her sister Maureen played two runaways who hid in the library. During the night, several children’s literary characters came to life and told their stories.
I played Dr. Dolittle, not only because I liked the character, but because I had a parrot hand-puppet. Dr. Dolittle’s sidekick was a parrot named Polynesia. She taught him how to talk to the animals.
I asked Mary Theresa to send me a copy of the photo when I told her about the project. Did anyone happen to grab a copy of the printed insert at the Children’s Festival of Reading today?