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Rediscovering My Favorite Childhood Book

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Molly Coplan, Common Sense Media
Tue May 21, 1:40 PM UTC

Some of my fondest memories growing up were reading with my mom. I'd be snuggled in bed under the covers; she'd be propped up on a pillow on top of the bed, close to me. And as she read, she'd give each character its own voice, really making the books come alive.

I remember my favorite book was Tor Seidler's "The Wainscott Weasel", wonderfully illustrated by Fred Marcellino. It's the story of a misfit weasel who enlists his woodland friends to help protect his imperiled lady love -- who happens to be a fish. I was 8, and it was one of the last books my mom read to me before pushing me out of the nest to fly into a lifetime of reading on my own. (Yes, that's me as a little girl in the photo, reading another of my childhood faves.)

It was also the first book I loved less for its plot and more for its beautiful writing, the vivid setting of the Wainscott woods, where the weasel and other critters lived, and luscious descriptions of the natural world, such as "A dark red strain spread over the pink glow in the west" to convey a setting sun. It was then that I learned to love books for the way I felt when engrossed in the words.

Many people have never heard of "The Wainscott Weasel," and when I noticed we didn’t have a review of it on the Common Sense Media website, I encouraged our book editor to consider assigning it. "Why don’t you write the review?" she asked. And I jumped at the chance to revisit a book that had had such a transformative effect on my life as a reader.

I asked my dad to send me the copy that my mom had read to me. As I waited impatiently for the book to arrive, I started to get anxious about the assignment. What if it wasn’t as good as I remembered? I had just read "The Great Gatsby" and "The Poisonwood Bible;" how would this book stack up to all of the amazing novels I have read in my adulthood?

When the book arrived, I opened it right away and the smell of my home wafted out. I started reading it and was immediately transported back to my bed, snuggling with my mom. I began to read, realizing I remembered next to nothing about the plot. I was surprised by how much the book taught readers about nature and relationships between species. I had forgotten how touching the theme of friendship was throughout the story, and I was shocked by the ending and how uncharacteristic it was for a kids' book. But just like when I was 8, what I loved most was the beautiful writing and vivid setting. My 25-year-old self happened to agree quite well with my 8-year-old self. So I felt great about recommending this hidden gem to our users.

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