Welcome back to Four Book Friday, a continuing series where writers and readers tell us about four books that changed their life! This week’s post comes from Greg Batcheler, a Simmons MFA survivor and kidlit writer, reader, and reviewer. Here are the four books that changed his life (or rather, four series, because he cheated a little!)
Frog and Toad by Arnold Lobel – Perhaps this one is cheating, but my attachment to these loveable characters reaches back to the prenatal stages of Greg-dom. My mom would read these books aloud when she was pregnant with me (or so I’m told), and I remember enjoying the adventures of these two friends as a child. When Frog and Toad became my subjects for deeper study in grad school, I thought I would nearly burst with excitement. The sparse text and spot illustrations are a goldmine for exploring the many faces of friendship. Every time I read these books as an adult, I’m reminded of the simple brilliance and extraordinary heart that Lobel poured into his work. I can only strive to do the same.
Animorphs by Katherine Applegate – There are very few middle grade and young adult novels that I read when I was the age of the intended audience (one of the many reasons I’ve loved rediscovering them as an adult), but I fondly remember devouring this series as a teen. The life and death stakes, the angst of secrecy, and the close bonds of these friends all had me flipping pages and begging for more like nothing else. When I had these books in my hands, I knew I loved to read. Oh, and deep down, I wished that I, too, could have magical, sci-fi, alien powers.
Redwall by Brian Jacques – These books are the first that I can remember having a more conscious understanding of craft. Jacques’ way with words mesmerized me: the descriptions of battles and riddles and foods – the foods! Ooh, they made my mouth water, though I didn’t even know what half the words meant. Beyond the descriptions, within every book I found a new cast of characters in that old, familiar world that captured my imagination. These everyday, unlikely heroes stood for epic and noble causes. I cheered when they won, I cried when they were defeated, and I cheered again when they persevered. Through the world around Redwall Abbey, I knew that though the costs may be high, good can and does triumph in the end. I believed it then, and I believe it now. Eulalaiaaaaaa!!!
Star Trek: The Next Generation – *Proudly puts on the nerd glasses* Because of my desire to read up as a kid, I often sought out the series novels enjoyed by my older brother. One that dominated the scene of my bookshelf was Star Trek: The Next Generation. I grew up watching this show on television, and there was no end to my enjoyment of the “continuing missions” offered up by the books in my hands. I read and reread many of them, but it was the characters, more than the individual stories, that resonated with me. I loved the ensemble nature of the cast, and seeing them work together in new combinations and new situations made me feel as though I knew them. The possibilities for their adventures were endless, and I credit this series with my abiding love for science fiction. IDIC. Look it up. You know you love it.
Greg Batcheler is a writer, reviewer, and former indie bookseller currently living in the greater Boston area. When he’s not writing, he’s dreaming of burritos and oatmeal cream pies. But not together. That’s gross. You can check out occasional updates on Greg’s blog at www.gpbatch.com, or follow him on Twitter for more regular tweets on creativity, writing, and kidlit.
Want more Four Book Friday? Here are more posts in the series:
- Caitlin Jacobs on food, I Capture the Castle, and epic fantasy
- Smatt Read on The Little Prince, Black and White, E.B. White, and Mazes!
- Jenny Kaczorowski on A Little Princess, Beatrix Potter, and the two books that brought her back to YA
- Katy Upperman on A Thousand Splendid Suns, Gayle Forman, Caroline B. Cooney, and Blubber
- Krista Van Dolzer on To Kill a Mockingbird, Lois Lowry, Stargirl and the power of introverts
- Hannah Thompson on Rumble Fish, Harry Potter, Chris Crutcher, and John Green.
- Clarissa Hadge on A Wrinkle In Time, Tamora Pierce, North to Freedom, and Mi Revalueshanary Fren
- Mackenzi Lee on Laini Taylor, One Day, The Thief Lord, and a book about a man and his steam shovel