Book DNA: The Beginning, Part 2

Last week, we started the adventure and challenge of mapping the connections between the books I have read and why these stories have had a personal impact – positive and negative. The books read to me in the early days lay the foundation for the characters and stories that would become my best friends and the safe places to escape.


6. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak – I distinctly remember scenes from this book plastered on the walls of my first elementary school library. I envied the independence of Max. I wanted to sail away on my own adventure and befriend wild creatures. This book took on new meaning as I re-read it over the years. I still wanted to be Max and now recognized his fear and longing for a wild adventure at home. With the help of my mother and sister, I painted a life-size mural of scenes from the book on the walls of my first daughter’s nursery. Teeth and all. I was sharing the adventure of Max and spirit of independence to the fresh mind of my child.

7. Peel, the Extraordinary Elephant by Susan Joyce – It is not so much the story that had me hooked , but because it is the very first book I had autographed. The author and illustrator visited and held a reading at our Department of Defense elementary school. It was that feeling of awe and anticipation I felt and can still recall when I knew I wanted to weave stories of my own one day.

8.  Little Witch’s Big Night by Deborah Hautzig – If you have not already guessed, I am a fan of strong, independent characters who have a taste for adventure. The crazy spells roll deliciously across your tongue as you say them aloud. Similarly to Where the Wild Things Are, Little Witch seeks out the frightening outside world, encounters and embraces diversity, but still feels a connection and longing for home.

9. Strega Nona by Tomie dePaola– Alright, so I may be drawn to witches too.  It was about this age that I recognized and requested to read books by the same author. This fable held the secret of magic and had me bubbling over in excitement for more stories and distinct illustrations. As an adult living in Texas for eight years, I was drawn to the tale of The Legend of the Bluebonnet.

10. All by Myself by Mercer Mayer – Little Critter adventures showed me that you didn’t always have to be a big kid to do what you wanted and have fun. You could have independence balanced with family responsibilities. And, you don’t always get what you want. Life lesson learned: Mama Critter is always right!

Each week we will explore the next five all time favorite and impactful books that have shaped my book DNA. For additional reading recommendations, please review the Book DNA category.

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  • Nancy Vargas

    Thank you for the  shout out my beautiful, independent daughter!