GRATEFUL TO E. NESBIT -- by Jane Kelley
My mother always wanted me to read her favorite children's novel, The Bastable Children by E. Nesbit. But why would I want to look inside these covers?
Bastable? What kind of name is that? No picture? No promise of anything fun? No thanks.
So I didn't read it until decades later when I was writing kids novels myself. In my second book, The Girl Behind The Glass, I imagined a ghost who had a beloved book. Since that ghost was about my mother's age, I decided to use my mother's own favorite.
The very first page hooked me. "We are the Bastables. There are six of us besides father. Our mother is dead, and if you think we don't care because I don't tell you much about her, you only show that you do not understand people at all."
E. Nesbit does understand people. She wrote her books over a hundred years ago. The children who are the heroes of her stories wore different clothes and ate puddings.
|"The uncle was very fierce with the pudding." |
And yet we know them. As E. Nesbit said, "When I was a little child I used to pray fervently, tearfully, that when I should be grown up I might never forget what I thought and felt and suffered then."