For Christmas this year my favorite sister-in-law, Julee, gave me a wonderfully personal gift. It was a first edition printing of my favorite childhood book: The Wolves of Willoughby Chase. It was assigned reading in my 5th grade class, and I fell in love with it instantly. During a random discussion with Julee, we discovered it was a favorite to both of us.
I began to read it on the flight home from Kansas this week. It was the first time since childhood and it was just as amazing as I remember. Fortunately, I forgot the ending, so when I finished it this morning it seemed exciting and new.
What I see now, that I didn't see then, was the power of the main character: a little girl. Written in the early 1960s, a girl-child heroine could not have been common, even in children's books. She is sassy, mouthy, fearless and smart...all of the things I aspired to be as a child.... and as an adult. I identified with Bonnie and believed that I could do anything after reading about what she overcame. There is not doubt in my mind that female role models - even fictional ones - can impact a young girl's self-esteem and dreams.
I went online to look for more books by Joan Aiken...something I should have done years ago....and found 13 total books in the Wolves Chronicles! I wish my 5th grade teacher had told me that! I am inspired to own and read all of them...before school starts again in the fall, cause God knows I won't have time for such tom-foolery then.