I'd flop onto the floor and, for hours, painstakingly copy cartoons, frame by frame, from the Peanuts Treasury onto gigantic sheets of slick paper my mom found for me. I practiced until I could draw Charlie Brown in my sleep. Snoopy was a little tougher. But he was my favorite character, so I kept trying to capture every emotional nuance his body language conveyed: a lifted ear here, a tilt of the head there. . . .
That next spring, a friend asked to borrow the book, and I happily handed it over. Unfortunately, we grew apart over the summer as 12-year-old girls tend to do. When school started again, I asked her about my book and got a, "Me? What book? I don't have any of your books."
She smirked and walked away while I tried not to cry (and fantasized about taking her down). My mom called her mom. Her mom searched her room and said it wasn't there. And then . . . well, what could I do? Life goes on. What really irked me about the whole episode was that my mom had written that message inside the front cover; clearly, whoever had it knew it was mine, knew it was a Christmas gift. Ugh.
For weeks I plotted elaborate scenarios in which I befriended her again so she'd invite me to her house. We'd be in her room, and I'd ask for a glass of water, and when she left to get it, I'd search her room myself, and – aHA! – find my book between her mattress and box springs.
Didn't happen. And I stopped drawing.
Over the years, anytime I was at a garage sale or a used bookstore or even antique shops, The Book was in the back of my mind. I mean, there had to be other copies floating around out there, right? Never found one, though.
So you can imagine how my heart leapt when I checked online a few years ago and found this reprint of my own personal Rosebud:
The cover wasn't the same, but I knew it was the right book. I ordered it and happy danced when it arrived – then promptly hauled it to my mom's and had her reproduce her inscription of 40 years ago.
I'm a writer today partly due to the frame-by-frame storytelling I learned from Charles M. Schulz. I'm living proof that when a kid connects with a book, whether a heralded work of great literature or a collection of cartoons, it helps shape who they become. That's why I never cared what my kids were reading, only that – thank you, Lord! – they were reading.
P.S. Enter our giveaway and win a copy of Nancy Cavanaugh's This Journal Belongs to Ratchet (Sourcebooks/Jabberwocky). Details here.