A while back, Anne compared me to a combination of Martha Abbott and Ivy Carson, which of course made me go grab a copy of The Changeling off the library shelf (autographed: “Greetings from Zilpha Snyder”). I had a huge Snyder kick, probably in middle school – something about her books appealed hugely to my kind of imagination. And yes, I am a combination of Martha and Ivy. I’ve got Martha’s holding back, and being the one who latches onto a more spontaneous friend. I’ve got a bit of Ivy’s dancing and imagination.
One of the things that struck me most about the whole book (and as far as I remember this is true of all of ZKS’s books) was how well she captures the way children imagine and play and interact with each other. The way certain spots are magic – the grove of trees, the stone – and the way others are frightening but magnetic, like the burnt-out house. An original mythology. The way a game changes and evolves from a near-religious belief to a performance, an acting out. The sense of going through phases, and changing without being aware of it at the time, and the way you realize you are different in front of different people.
I also love that Martha becomes herself in high school. She gets most of the pain and angst out of the way in middle school (how true, how true) and settles down to true Martha-ness. I don’t think I was quite so much myself in high school (not to the degree that I am now, but I suppose that’s only natural) but 9th grade certainly was a big sigh of relief after middle school.
And speaking of changelings…let me plug The New Policeman again. GO READ IT. It’s really like a slightly simpler, Irish version of Summerland, which, go read that, too, while you’re at it. YA books that work equally well or perhaps even better for adults. A bit of magic and folktales and legends, a quest, a flawed hero. It really needs an accompanying CD, though, so those of us who don’t read music can hear the traditional songs that end (and title) each chapter. Don’t know what it has to do with changelings? Check it out. I still hold that it’s the perfect book for anyone who feels there isn’t enough time in the day…