So You Want to Be a Wizard by Diane Duane was one of my favourite books as a kid. I think I was about seven when I read it. The bookmobile had just gotten a copy of it and I remember my name was the first one on the book slip – I always loved it when that happened. I absolutely devoured it, and then couldn’t wait for the end of the week when the bookmobile would again be parked next to Dr. Seager Wheeler Park so I could tell the librarian about it – to ensure she stocked the next book when it came out.
A few years ago now, I saw an old copy (though not so old as the one I would have first read) on the “for sale” rack at our little neighbourhood library. It was old enough that it still had the kraft paper envelope glued onto the first page – where the book slip would have slid in so perfectly. I grabbed it pretty darn quickly, and when the girl was done checking out her books I gratefully handed over the quarter (or two, I can’t recall exactly how much it was) that the paperbacks withdrawn from the library collection sell for. When we got home, I stashed it away on a shelf, knowing some day my girl might just love it as much as I did… and excited that it would be here waiting for her.
Tonight we started reading the brittle, crinkly pages, each one crackling and popping as they were turned. There is just something special about older books. Something magical in the way they sound, feel, and smell. Even leafing through them is a journey… and I’ll admit to a palpable tingle in the air as I listened to the pages turn taking us to the prologue and our epic adventure.
As my husband read aloud, I was taken back to the very first time I read So You Want to Be a Wizard. And I was quickly reminded why I loved it so much, even then. I was never one for flaky books with characters as thin as the paper their lives were printed on. Even as a kid, I liked my words meaty, purposeful, and true. Listening to Nita’s experience going back into the children’s section of her little library, I relived those first moments of discovery, when I knew what it was to stumble – with her – onto the amazing book and looking forward to where it would take her. …yep, I’m going to enjoy doing this again. 😉
Okay. It happened. I didn’t think it ever would, but it has. I’ve been ruined. Yep. You read that right. Ruined. I can no longer read juvenile fiction without comparing it to the amazing The Search for WondLa. Tony DiTerlizzi has ruined me. From this point on, his magnificent work is the yardstick by which all other chapter books will be measured.
The truth is, I fell in love with DiTerlizzi’s prose and word-use within the first few pages of The Search for WondLa (which you may remember me raving about HERE). I enjoyed reading it, if for nothing else, than his easy way with language, the way the words dripped off the page and onto my tongue like some sweet honey made just for my delighted writerly senses. That would have been enough. But then he made me fall in love with his characters as well.
Rovender Kitt? Seriously, seriously love him. I love the lessons of interconnectedness he bestows on Eva, which so closely resemble the things I’ve hoped to instill in, and inspire with, Lily-Ann. I’ll miss this particular character even more than I’ll miss Otto, the giant water bear, who speaks with kindness and gentleness telepathically to our young heroine, Eva, whom kid-kid enjoyed so very much.
Tomorrow we have to begin another book. The second book in the WondLa trilogy, A Hero for WondLa, isn’t available at our local library, and we don’t have the funds just now to run out and purchase it (or I would). We would so like to linger on Orbona a little longer, but it is what it is. I know whatever we choose to read, it won’t absorb us like the fluid, easy, natural flow of language that is Mr. DiTerlizzi’s masterpiece. However, I also know that we WILL make it back to read more about Rovender, Otto, and Eva… even if we are pulled away for a while, and that? It’s a very nice thing to know.