Typically around here, we focus on travel guides and books with a very specific setting. I wanted to take today to focus on another transportive genre – children’s fiction. Part of the appeal is the fact that these stories take me right back to my childhood. The magic of these books also lies in their simplicity – because they’re crafted for middle grade readers, they are devoid of fussy writing and complicated plots. They read like things once known and since forgotten.
Tale of the connections formed by lonely people across time & one of the first books that made me ache to be a writer. This novel also questions the classically western association of the afterlife with the heavens, wondering if there is not perhaps as much magic in the sea. Which brings me to another ocean related story…
My favorite fairytale-esque story, this underrated novel features a refreshingly unlovely heroine and remarkably lyrical writing. Basic overview: a fisherman’s daughter falls in love with a prince. He in turn is in love with the sea, where he longs to return.
This one actually is a travel story. As Sal and her grandparents road trip across the midwest United States, Sal recounts the tale of a classmate:
The reason that Phoebe’s story reminds me of that plaster wall and the hidden fireplace is that beneath Phoebe’s story was another one. It was about me and my own mother.
This framed structure, which infuses Sal’s childlike understanding of events with the elevated perspective of her grandparents, is a sophisticated yet simple way for Sal to come to terms with her mother’s departure.
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