K.E. Ormsbee | The Children’s Book Review | April 19, 2015
My Favorite Books When I Was Lottie Fiske’s Age
In The Water and the Wild, twelve-year-old Lottie Fiske receives a number of birthday presents from a mysterious gift-giver. One of these presents is Edmund Spenser’s Faerie Queene, which Lottie finds dense and tedious.
At Lottie’s age, I too would’ve professed the same opinion of the epic sixteenth century poem. I was, however, a sucker for all things magical and otherworldly, and that affinity is evident in the following selection of my favorite books when I was Lottie’s age. These stories kept me up way past my bedtime and still hold places of honor on my bookshelf.
The Gammage Cup
By Carol Kendall
Minnipins rock. And if you don’t know who Minnipins are or why they rock, you ought to pick up a copy of The Gammage Cup and jump into the brilliantly conceived fantasy world of the Land Between the Mountains. The hobbit-like residents of Slipper-on-the-Water live a tradition-bound life, but there are a few weirdos in town—Gummy, Muggles, Mingy, Curley Green, and Walter the Earl—who reject the normal way of living in favor of staying true to themselves and their ideals. Other villagers refer to these pariahs as “Them” and eventually banish them from town. And that’s just the start of a very grand adventure. The Gammage Cup is packed with imaginative details and a spellbinding plot, and it’s a thought-provoking exploration of conformity and individuality. Growing up, I kept this story close by my bedside for multiple re-reads.
Ages 8-12 | Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers | 2000 | ISBN-13: 978-0152024932
Anne of Green Gables
By L.M. Montgomery
Okay, maybe I was biased toward these books because Anne Shirley was an oddball ginger, just like me, but I like to think the Green Gables series has remained one of my favorites because it really is captivating storytelling. I was in love with the world of Avonlea and never tired of reading about Anne’s crazy shenanigans. My love for L.M. Montgomery’s world was only intensified by the fabulous film adaptations—still my go-to sick day movies—and the subsequent Road to Avonlea series.
Ages 9-12 | Publisher: Puffin Books | 2014 | ISBN-13: 978-0147514004
By Natalie Babbitt
Long before Hawt Vampire Boyz were popular, there was Jesse Tuck, an immortal boy with his own set of secrets. I remember first reading Tuck Everlasting on a road trip from Kentucky to North Carolina. As the car followed winding paths through Appalachia and dipped into back roads along wooded, rustic country, I could so vividly picture the story of Winnie Foster and the Tuck Family happening right outside my window. The story may be short, but it haunted me in a way few other books had before or have since. It’s a magnificent study of life and death that got me thinking about the beauty created by temporality long before I ever picked up any poems by Wallace Stevens.
Ages 10-14 | Publisher: Square Fish | 2009 | ISBN-13: 978-0312369811
By Jane Austen
Again, I have a feeling my initial love of this novel was fueled by subconscious narcissism, since the heroine’s name is Catherine. Or it could have just been because this was one of the shorter Austen novels and therefore more accessible. But whatever the reason, I adored Northanger Abbey, along with every other Jane Austen novel I devoured in my preteen and teenaged years. I may not have fully grasped the gothic parodic element Austen was going for, but darn it, that Mr. Tilney sent my heart aflutter like none other.
Ages 12 and up | Publisher: Random House UK | 2014 | ISBN-13: 978-0099589297
There you have it! Four beloved books that inspired, entertained, and delighted twelve-year-old me. And all of them only deepened a love of fiction that would one day lead me to write Lottie Fiske’s own story.
About the Author
K.E. Ormsbee was born and raised in the Bluegrass State. She then went off and lived in places across the pond, like England and Spain, where she pretended she was a French ingénue. Just kidding! That only happened once. She also lived in some hotter nooks of the USA, like Birmingham, AL and Austin, TX. Now she’s back in Lexington, KY, where there is a Proper Autumn.
In her wild, early years, she taught English as a Foreign Language, interned with a film society, and did a lot of irresponsible road tripping. Her crowning achievement is that the back of her head was in an iPhone commercial, and people actually paid her money for it.
Nowadays, she teaches piano lessons, plays in a band you’ve never heard of, and runs races that she never wins. She likes clothes from the 60s, music from the 70s, and movies from the 80s. She still satiates her bone-deep wanderlust whenever she can.
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The Water and the Wild
By K.E. Ormsbee
Publisher’s Synopsis: A green apple tree grows in the heart of Thirsby Square, and tangled up in its magical roots is the story of Lottie Fiske. For as long as Lottie can remember, the only people who seem to care about her are her best friend, Eliot, and the mysterious letter writer who sends her birthday gifts. But now strange things are happening on the island Lottie calls home, and Eliot’s getting sicker, with a disease the doctors have given up trying to cure. Lottie is helpless, useless, powerless—until a door opens in the apple tree. Follow Lottie down through the roots to another world in pursuit of the impossible: a cure for the incurable, a use for the useless, and protection against the pain of loss.
Ages 8-12 | Publisher: Chronicle Books | 2015 | ISBN-13: 978-1452113869
CCSS-Aligned Discussion/Teacher’s Guide
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K.E. Ormsbee, author of The Water and the Wild, selected the books in this list of “Beloved Books to Inspire 12-Year-Olds.” Discover more books like The Water and the Wild by pursuing articles on The Children’s Book Review tagged with “Books About Loss.”
This is a great list. I read the Tuck Everlasting with my son and we both loved it.
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