Deb Kim: I’ve Never Given Up Imaginary Friends

I sat down to write about my friends for this week’s “friendship” theme, and decided to take different approach. Sure, we all have friends. Casual acquaintances, lifelong friends, the nice lady who baristas up my venti coffee so that I can get on with my day. All friends.

Many of my best friends aren’t real. They are characters in books. I turn to them for company, comfort, a quick visit down memory lane and to soothe myself when times get bumpy.  I’ve re-read childhood and cozy mystery books dozens of times, laughing with Good Old Archibald, staying up late with the zany and magical babysitter Mr. Pudgins or traveling “400 miles north of everywhere” with Jim Qwilleran and his friends in Moose County.

You’re never alone if you can read.

That’s why every year, when I sit at my children’s IEP meetings (those are planning meetings for special ed, my three girls have autism) I say, “I just want my girls to read.” I know that if they can develop some level of reading skill, even if it’s “just” a 4th grade level, they will never be alone and will always have friends too.

Who are your friends from books?

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19 thoughts on “Deb Kim: I’ve Never Given Up Imaginary Friends

  1. There was a book I LOVED when I was a kid, though I can’t remember for the life of me what it was called. It took place in the past, and was about two best friends named Cordelia and Chrystal: Cordy and Chris. They were total goofballs who longed to be the sought-after beauties, yet couldn’t help but be their dorky, super-creative selves. They somehow found/received these two little dolls named Lester and Lynette, and proceeded to write a novel about the dolls: The Perils of Lester and Lynette, switching chapters back and forth as they went. The book starts with one of the girls as an old lady receiving a package from the other old lady: it’s the dolls, Lester and Lynette. This leads her to remember their young lives together, which go between the actual narrative of Cordy and Chris, and their Lester/Lynette book-within-a-book.

    Despite the fact that I can’t remember the title for the life of me, I adored this book, and basically modeled my young life on these girls. I even wrote books with friends the way they did, swapping chapters back and forth, and continued to do that into my adulthood — my first (unpublished) novel was one I wrote with a close friend, swapping chapters as we went.

    Totally with you on this one, Kim. Cordy and Chris were — and still are — very much alive for me, and my life is better for having them.

    Thanks for a great post!

  2. Ah! Just found it online!!! It’s called “Two Are Better Than One” by Carol Ryrie Brink. I might have to get it on Amazon… wonder if it’s as good as I remember it!

  3. Elise, so glad you found it! My “lost” book was Lazy Tommy Pumpkinhead, read to me in maybe 3rd grade by Sister Barbara (who nicknamed me “Hotseat”.) Tommy had a machine that did everything for him, from waking him, to dressing him, to making his food – he ended up miserable and there was a long staircase he had to climb every single night to go to bed. It took me years to recall the title. Go buy Two Are Better Than One – it’s as good as you remember. Maybe better.

    KIM

  4. Ooooh, good one! This is one of the reasons I re-read Stephen King’s The Stand so often – the characters have gotten to feel like friends for me. Maeve Binchy is good for this too, her characters are so real that I feel like I’m sitting down with an old friend catching up on the gossip.

    I just posted about The Outsiders on my blog, and I definitely felt that way about Ponyboy when I was a teenager.

    Ooh, what a pleasure good characters are!

  5. Eleanor — LOVE the Stand! And how cool was it when Stephen King came out with the expanded version — the perfect excuse to re-read and find out more about the characters we loved!

  6. I remember being a kid and escaping into the world of books. From Judy Blume to the Encyclopedia Brown series. They all took me to another place. I just bought Chicken Soup with Rice by Maurice Sendak and it took me back many years…My daughter loves to look at books. Hopefully, one day, she’ll be able to read them.

  7. Okay, just got Two Is Better Than One on Amazon… along with the Little Golden Book of my first Dinosaur Train episode (can’t stop being giddy about that) and former Deb Eileen Cook’s first novel. I’m on a mission to read every Deb book during our tenure!

  8. Oh Tina, the pocket library! I still have mine. Sipping once, sipping twice. And Pierre I Don’t Care – Books are more memorable and evoke more emotion than anything except certain scents for me. Elise, good for you! Report back after reading please. Stephen King’s Mr. Barlow from Salem’s Lot haunted me for decades. I couldn’t go to the kitchen for a drink of water after dark fearing he’d emerge up from my floor.

  9. I didn’t read my first book until I was 23 years old. A girl with green-eyes was reading For Whom the Bell Tolls. And that was that. Though she would later break my heart, books have never let me down.

  10. I can go all the way back to Christopher Robin and Pooh, and then the Bobbsey Twins. The Boxcar Children. There was a book I read in 2nd grade (over and over and over) called, I think, Taffy’s Foal. I need to try to find that one. Of course the Judy Blume books. And then the best one then and now–Atticus and Scout Finch and Boo Radley.

  11. Trixie Belden was my very best friend growing up. I always wanted to hang with her and Nancy Drew, but the bitches never showed up to my birthday party.

    Tawna

  12. Thanks, everyone, for the meaningful comments today. See you next Wednesday when I don my Snark Gloves for “Best Advice” week.

  13. When things are tough, we always have books–I feel the same as you, Kim. Books have been there for me in tough times of my life. I’m tempted to pick up the titles you mentioned (embarrassed to say–I haven’t read them!) xoxo

  14. As a kid, I loved the Super Fudge books by Judy Blume. Actually anything by Judy Blume. Loved the Ramona books too by Beverly Cleary. And the Little House series – I, too wanted to live her life. Now, I reach for chick lit. I know it’s not deep and meaningful, but it feels like girlfriends talking and living. I love Jennifer Weiner. I also love a good memoir. Especially a funny one. Love Jen Lancaster especially.

    Eat Pray Love was great. Well, I only got through “Eat” but that’s a whole other issue.

  15. I am so happy to be reminded of Chicken Soup with Rice. I must get my hands on the Carole King song version.

    As a kid, my grandparents had an old version of The Bumper Book by Watty Piper (had to look that one up) from when my mom, aunt, and uncle were little. It’s a beautifully illustrated collection of stories and poems. Wynken, Blinkyn, and Nod, Animal Crackers with Cocoa to Drink, The Owl and the Pussycat, The Wee Kitten Who Sucked Her Thumb, The Lame Squirrel’s Thanksgiving, The Gingham Dog and the Calico Cat and many more. I loved it. I still love it. It’s old though and difficult to find (except on eBay $95!)

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