My favorite book when I was an incipient YAer (in 5th grade that is) was Madeleine L’Engle’s And Both Were Young. It is the story of Philippa who is sent off to a Swiss boarding school, something I wanted desperately to get to do too. Flip is shy and doesn’t fit in at all; she doesn’t know how to talk to boys when along comes Paul. As someone who had already attended six schools by then, I knew very well what it was like to be a shy new girl. And Flip and Paul’s sweet romance was just where I was at in terms of boys. I took the book out of my local East Lansing, Michigan library over and over and over again. At one point, wanting it desperately for my own I bought a notebook and started to copy it out. I gave up after three chapters and went back to taking it out of the library over and over and over… I loved it that much. (Here’s another person who also appreciated it and even provides a long excerpt from that first chapter I wrote out so long ago.)
When I decided I wanted to be an illustrator, a couple of years later, I did a few drawings for another favorite, A Wrinkle in Time. Here’s Meg, Charles Wallace, and their mother drinking hot chocolate late at night.
Madeleine L’Engle was many things to many people. For me, she was my seminal YA author and an inspirational children’s writer.