Are Your (Book) Roots Showing?


I’m talking about THE RESCUERS and book roots over at Project Middle Grade Mayhem today. Go take a peek (the comments are worth the read)!

Or here it is below:

Are Your (Book) Roots Showing?

This is not me.

Hi, everyone! Another new Mayhemer here. Long time middle grade book lover, though. In fact, in a way, that’s what my post is about today. I was all set to write on a different topic for my inaugural Project Mayhem entry, then I went to the bookstore last Saturday. And I came across THIS:

This is the cover on the copy I bought, but I find it puzzling--the mice look like cats, don't they? And the original art was by Garth Williams. (See above ^.) Replacing Garth Williams!?

THE RESCUERS by Margery Sharp! Have you read this book? (Not to be confused with the also fun, but so-different-you-can-hardly-recognize-it movie.) Oh, so good.

THE RESCUERS was one of those books for me when I was a kid. A book I came back to visit, time after time, in my tiny school library. So much so, that when I saw this in the bookstore last weekend, it reminded me of how much my upcoming novel, MALCOLM AT MIDNIGHT, is rooted in the humor and heart of THE RESCUERS.

Which got me thinking. And that made me change my post topic. And now–ta-dum!–you’re going to be treated to an extended metaphor. (I know! I hope I don’t get kicked out of the group after my first post.)

I started wondering . . . what other books were my roots? Ones that influenced who I grew up to be? That became a part of me? That changed my world and caused me to sprout in a different direction?

What books are my own stories grounded in?

In the branch of me that wrote MALCOLM, I can see roots that go way down deep, like THE RESCUERS’. There’s also a little bit of RAMONA (I named the teacher Mr. Binney). Some RATS OF NIMH–those rats were so clever! More heart from THE SUMMER OF THE MONKEYS. Goofiness from BUNNICULA. Maybe even the re-purposing of household items from THE BORROWERS. But there are newer roots for MALCOLM, too. Like THE TALE OF DESPEREAUX. The mysteries in HARRY POTTER. And Andrew Clements’ classroom banter.

I love digging around and seeing how these book roots of mine grew together into something new. But it’s also a scary thought as author who has a first book coming out this year. Will my book cause ideas and feelings to germinate in someone else . . . years later? Author Sid Fleischman said, “The books we enjoy as children stay with us forever–they have a special impact.” Eep. That’s a big responsibility!

Now, granted, I probably have more or deeper book roots than the average person. I grew up to be both a children’s librarian and a children’s author, after all. My book roots probably look like those plants you get from the garden center that have been in their pots too long—all twisted and tangled and wrapped around and around themselves. I sometimes have a hard time talking about non-book-related things.

But I’ll bet you have book roots, too. If you’re a writer, what stories did your books grow from? And if you don’t write, well, I’ll bet if you dig down deep enough, your book roots are there, too.

I’d love to hear about them. After all, I’m still leafing out new branches.

*~W.H. Beck~*

One thought on “Are Your (Book) Roots Showing?”

Comments are closed.