The Rocking Chair
I had the most awesome fifth-grade teacher. To protect privacy, I’ll refer to her as Mrs. Smith. Everyday after lunch, Mrs. Smith read to our class. We were allowed to put our heads down on our desks if we wanted. You might think we’d fall asleep, but this never happened because Mrs. Smith was a wonderful and talented reader. She gave the characters different voices and always read at the perfect pace for each scene.
We hated when Mrs. Smith stopped reading and usually clamored for her to continue. We thought we were clever and persuasive, however, she probably had planned for encores. She was also very good about stopping at cliffhangers. I don’t remember how long she would read to us. It could’ve been fifteen minutes. It could’ve been thirty. She must have had a time limit, but she never rushed the story. It’s really too bad that teachers nowadays don’t have the time for this kind of leisurely reading.
Anyway, Mrs. Smith had a red rocking chair in her classroom. The chair was named “Granny” and no one was allowed to sit on her without special permission. When Mrs. Smith sat down on Granny, we immediately cleared our desks and got quiet. It was time to listen.
It was Mrs. Smith who introduced me, and probably many of my classmates, to A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L’Engle, Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl and the first Mary Poppins book by P.L. Travers. Do you know what these authors have in common? All of them put fantasy into the everyday, ordinary lives of their characters and made it seem completely plausible.
Unlike the above examples, Valkyrie is not a Young Adult novel. However, it is totally inspired by them.