Follow This Blog: RSS feed
A Fuse #8 Production
Inside A Fuse #8 Production

Time Travel and Other Useful Activities

Well! Yesterday was exciting. Any more excitement and I think I’ll drop dead of exhaustion. Today, let’s switch gears and be comparatively boring. Now a couple months ago Molly O’Neill did a post that I thought was just brilliant. It was called The Time-Traveler’s Library/Book Fairy and it was such a good idea that I’m doing a version of it here today.

The Premise: You have a time machine. In this time machine you may take seven books. Your mission is to visit yourself, in the past, and to give yourself the books you wish you would have read as a kid. They can be old books or new books, it doesn’t matter.  But they must be books you’ve run across as an adult, loved, and you know would have appealed to (or been good for) little you.

Age 2-6
The Maggie B
by Irene Haas

I was a kid fond of Tasha Tudor’s A Time to Keep and Margaret Mahy’s Ultra-Violet Catastrophe.  The crazy thing about The Maggie B is that it had a publication date of 1975.  By all rights, I should have seen this book.  Instead, years later, a friend of mine mentioned that it had been her favorite as a child.  I checked it out and found it to be the warmest, sweetest title, chock full of wonderful sentiments and evocative language.  This is a joy of a book.  What kid wouldn’t get a kick out of the idea of having your own boat to live on too?

Ages 6-9
Seasons: A Book of Poems by Charlotte Zolotow

Still young enough to be read something, Seasons would have been an ideal choice.  It came out in 2002 (go, Ms. Zolotow, go!) and I discovered it long before I became a children’s librarian.  It has stuck with me ever since.  Plus, Eric Blegvad’s illustrations are contemporary without ever feeling dated.  A natural fit.

Age 9-10
by Ingrid Law

As an early fan of The Girl With the Silver Eyes and any number of Apple paperback ghost stories, Law’s book would have been right up my alley.  Plus it has the kind of cover that’s fun to just stare at for long periods of time.  I was a jacket starer.  I admit it.

The Kind of Friends We Used to Be by Frances Roark Dowell
Young me would sneer at the sparkles on the cover but if convinced to actually give it a try would find it to be fantabulous. 

Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney
I also happened to love comics.  Uncle Scrooge and Pogo and Doonesbury and Bloom County and Calvin and Hobbes… you name it!  I feel like Kinney’s books would have been appreciated in my household. 

Age 12-15
This is when it starts to get painful.  The hairiness beginneth.  And the glasses… oh the glasses.

The Hollow Kingdom by Clare Dunkle

Yeah.  The girl who was obsessed with The Phantom of the Opera?  Who would read books based on their musical adaptations?  That was me.  So The Hollow Kingdom would have been right up my alley.  Twilight would have too, but I’m not getting that anywhere near 14-year-old me.  Nuh-uh.  No way.

Age 17 or 18
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks
by E. Lockhart

Of all the books I’ve mentioned, I would have rammed this one down little me’s throat.  Little me wouldn’t want to read it at first, since there isn’t anything even slightly fantastical about it.  Plus Frankie’s physical appearance mentioned at the start would make it a hard sell.  But if given a half a chance, this would be the number one most important book to read.  Bar none.

Then I’d hand myself some tweezers and a bottle of conditioner. At the very least.

And yourself?  What would you have your own little yous read?

About Elizabeth Bird

Elizabeth Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.


  1. Anamaria Anderson says:

    So glad you mentioned The Maggie B. — a wonderful picture book that made my top ten list last spring. I always try to clean my house with “a joyful hustle-bustle!” Will try to see what I can come up with re:books my younger self would have loved, too.

  2. Molly O''Neill says:

    Well-played, Betsy! Those photos are priceless. And great book suggestions, too.

  3. Um, I looked exactly like you at age 14, only blond. The perm. The gigantor glasses (were yours red, too? can’t tell). The excessive eyebrows. Gaah.

  4. Hate to break it to you, EM, but that’s no perm.

  5. Ohh adorable! You’ve got me thinking about it (also hankering to go through my parents’ photo albums… hmmm…).

  6. Yeah. No perm. And the glasses were… I hesitate to write this… purple.

  7. Spoon, by Ruth Krouse Rosenthal. I used to play with spoons like they were a family, so this would have been right up my alley.

    If the World Were a Village, by David Smith. I loved People and would have loved this, too.

    The Dumb Bunnies, by Dav Pilkey. Loved The Stupids. Would have loved the Dumb Bunnies.

    The Eloise books, by Hilary Knight. How did I miss these books as a kid? I only knew about Pippi Longstocking.

    And for something that would have made a difference in my young life: The Care and Keeping of Your Unibrow, if there is such a book. Because my brows were out of control, too!

  8. Melissa (Book Nut) says:

    Oh, I had to have a perm to get that look, and my glasses were purple, too. ๐Ÿ˜€ This was fun… I’ll have to think about it and play along.

  9. I want to play. But in that it takes about 3 weeks me to get a blog post out it may be awhile.

    I have a feeling the glasses will make a comeback sometime in the future, possibly as protection from nuclear fallout.

  10. The Maggie B is probably my favorite picture book. Hmm, I’ll have to think over my time machine titles.

  11. dotdotdot says:

    I think I would toss a copy of Terry Pratchett’s Nation in with that Frankie Landau Banks for teenage me, give myself an early double whammy on colonialism and feminist thinking. And some Sherman Alexie, if there was any room left.

  12. RascofromRIF says:

    This is a great post, Betsy….the pictures are fun and painful at the same time. But you have inspired me. I am preparing to one my list together and I shall be brave with the pics as well…I think!