What a tremendous gift to give a child--stories to feed her hungry soul and stoke the deep wells of imagination within her! This lovely woman, whose name I can't even remember, played a huge role in turning my heart forever toward the world of fantasy. How I wish I could thank her.
A sister and brother inside a barn. A Pegasus foal hidden there. Something evil outside, trying to get in.
Over the years, I tried to find it on the Internet. Surely, I thought--surely--if I type in "Pegasus" and "brother and sister" and "barn", it'll pop right up on this list-of-forgotten-books.
Nope. No luck.
Then, a few months ago, I decided to try again. AND I FOUND IT.
It took me five minutes, and there it was. And here it is:
I was SO VERY EXCITED to read it. Suddenly I was ten years old, eager to fall once again into the world where Pegasus was real and children my age got to have a grand, scary, fantastical adventure.
You guys. The writing was horrible.
On the back flap, the author bio states that Ms. Baxter wrote this story when she was seventeen.
And Lippincott published it. Well, huh.
Here's the thing, though, and it's a big one: When I was a child, I didn't know about points of view or plot arcs or overwriting. All I knew was that there was a Pegasus foal trapped in a barn with a boy and a girl.
So powerful, in fact, that the best one stick with us for years despite deficiencies of writing. So powerful that, decades after having read something, a wistful adult will search and search until she finds the long lost treasure.
You are a writer. YOU HOLD THIS POWER IN YOUR HANDS.
It's not about lovely sentences or a wonderful premise. It's about STORYTELLING. And yes, there is plot arc and character arc and all that really important stuff. But the ART OF STORY is what will draw your readers in and keep them hooked--sometimes for life.
As for me and my little book? I passed it on to a sweet young person in my life who happens to be a fantasy-loving bookworm. She devoured it. Loved it. Raved about it. Like long-ago me, she wasn't bothered by the weak plot or point of view mess. It was all, "Pegasus! Magic! Scary things!"
She has a steady diet of well-written literature in her life, so I don't think I've ruined her by handing her a book that would certainly never be published today. I have it under good authority that she has recently started Fellowship of the Ring, so there you have it. (She's not quite ten. I know for a fact that I was not reading Tolkien at that age. The sad truth is that I didn't know who Tolkien was. But that's a story for another day.)
And there you have it. We all remember things from our childhood that, upon being revisited, don't come close to living up to our memories. Like Moon Pies. And freezer pops. And Michael Landon as Pa.
But if even one kernel of a story nestles in our hearts and inspires us for years to come, it's worth revisiting, and worth giving credit to, despite its faults. Go forth and find a story that's lodged in your brain from your own past. Who knows--it may actually be as wonderful as you remember!