Top Ten Tuesday: Childhood Characters I Would Love to Revisit as Adults


Image via The Broke and the Bookish

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday, a meme hosted by the The Broke and the Bookish, is all about checking in with our favorite literary characters from our childhood. It’s great when you’re a kid reading about other kids–often from magical places–but what would those characters’ lives be like when they’re all grown up?

I can only imagine all of the shout-outs to Harry Potter from other book bloggers, but I’ve purposefully left that series off my list. As much as I love Harry and friends, let’s make room for other awesome novels!

Kids Books

  1. Jonas from The Giver by Lois Lowry
  2. The Tuck family from Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt
  3. The children from The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke
  4. Artemis from the Artemis Fowl series by Eoin Colfer
  5. Bartimaeus from the Bartimaeus series by Jonathan Stroud
  6. Lyra and Will from the His Dark Materials series by Philip Pullman
  7. Addie and Meryl from The Two Princesses of Bamarre by Gail Carson Levine
  8. Sophie and Howl from Howl’s Moving Castle by Dianna Wynne Jones
  9. The Baudelaires from A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket
  10. Harold from Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson

Top Ten Books from Childhood I’d Like to Revisit

Meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish

Before my mother retired from 30 years of teaching last year, I used to look forward to helping her set up her third grade classroom every August, because there was always some extra time to go through my old books that I read as a kid. I let my mom use them with her students, because I loved the idea of other children enjoying with the same stories I cherished at their age.

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday, a meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish, discusses which children’s books we would most want to revisit. Whether they starred princesses, wolves, wizards, dolphins, or djinni, these ten books fueled my imagination and encouraged me to believe anything is possible.

Here are the top ten books from my childhood I’d like to revisit:

Girl Against the World


1. Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George
2. Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell

Boy Against the Supernatural World



3. The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
4. The Giver by Lois Lowry
5. The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke
6. The Bartimaeus Series by Jonathan Stroud

Romantic Fairytales



7. Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
8. Two Princesses of Bamarre by Gail Carson Levine
9. Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt
10. Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

Top Ten Favorite Film Adaptations of Books

When it comes to blogging memes, I don’t follow any consistently, but I like jumping in when I like the topic (not to mention, when I’ve got the time!). It’s rare that I post on a Tuesday, but Alison Doherty at Hardcovers and Heroines inspired me to discuss my favorite movie adaptations of books.

Without further ado! In order from good to greatest:

  • Fight Club, based on the book by Chuck Palahnuik

I was surprised to find out that Daniel Day-Lewis starred in two of these films…but then again, I shouldn’t be because he’s an amazing actor! So which movies would you add to your list?

If you’d like to follow this Top Ten meme, check out The Broke and The Bookish!

Masterpiece Monday: Howl’s Moving Castle

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Today I’m bending the rules, because it’s the birthday of one of my best friends, Lily. Years ago, I recommended Diana Wynne Jones’ fantasy novel Howl’s Moving Castle to her, and now it’s one of her favorite stories. Although she currently lives in Tokyo and spends her free time reading in Japanese, I thought I would celebrate the book we shared together. I wouldn’t say it qualifies as a “masterpiece,” but it’s certainly an outstanding read.

Jones published her novel in 1986, and it tells the tale of Sophie Hatter, a young hat-maker who is cursed by the Witch of the Waste. After becoming displeased with Sophie’s hats, the witch turns her into an old woman.

Determined to break the curse, Sophie becomes the maid for the wizard Howl, a 28-year-old, self-centered, narcissistic man rumored to eat pretty girls’ hearts. Howl lives in his moving castle with his 15-year-old apprentice Michael and the fire demon Calcifer, who powers the place.

What makes Howl’s castle able to “move” is its magical entry, with a doorknob which has four dabs of paint to represent   its different locations. Howl’s mysterious past and many psuedonyms allow him to travel through this fantastical world relatively unnoticed, that is until he must face his own cowardice and help Sophie destroy the Witch of the Waste.

This is a unique love story as well, given that although Howl is aware of Sophie’s curse, she lives with him as an old woman. Howl even initially courts Sophie’s sister Lettie. Not to mention, it takes a while for Sophie to look past Howl’s vanity and messiness and find the good within. But while I won’t give away the whole plot, don’t worry, there’s a happily ever after!

L-R: Sophie, Howl, and Calcifer

Once you’ve read Howl’s Moving Castle, you should watch Hayao Miyazaki’s 2004 anime feature film of the same name. I’ve mentioned the movie before when I discussed my favorite literary vacation destinations, and it is really worth the watch.

There are vast differences between the book and film, the biggest being Miyazaki’s inclusion of supernatural creatures. The film also added the element of war, with Howl refusing to fight for pacifist reasons. And although Sophie is cursed in the movie, the witch devolves into a humorous, harmless character rather than the powerful sorceress she is in the book.

According to interviews, Miyazaki did not consult Jones, but allowed her a private viewing, after which she called the film “fantastic.” However, do not mistake Jones’ sequel to Howl’s Moving Castle, called Castle in the Air, for another Miyazaki movie called “Castle in the Sky.” The two are entirely unrelated.

So if you’re interested in experiencing a fun, magical tale of love and friendship, I highly recommend Howl’s Moving Castle. It’s a story that brings close friends even closer–so happy birthday, Lily!!!

Top 5 Fictional Vacation Destinations

It’s finally Friday, and although I should be writing my comprehensive paper that’s due in two weeks, I wanted to take a break to talk about what’s really on my mind: vacation. (Or yasumi as the Japanese call it). My brother and I are so excited to visit the Pokemon Center and Studio Ghibli museum in Japan, my girlfriends and I can’t wait to party it up in Vegas–even my parents are busy planning their 25th anniversary getaway. So let’s just say senioritis is kicking in full force!

For fun I thought I would share my top 5 fictional vacation destinations: the places that don’t actually exist, but I would book a trip in a heartbeat if they did. And no, Narnia is not on the list–talking beavers and lion messiahs are not my idea of a good time, sorry!

5. Fowl Manor in Artemis Fowl

What Fowl Manor might look like

Boy genius Artemis Fowl lives in a 15th century castle on a 200-acre estate an hour from Dublin, Ireland. It is covered by oak trees and stone walls, along with a state-of-the-art security system. His great-great-great-grandfather added a ton of rooms in the 18th century, but the castle still possesses its original guard towers and walkways. It’s a gorgeous home, and did we mention it comes with your own Butler? That is, Artemis’ family servant Butler, who is a martial arts and weapons expert. Whether you’re trying to escape some evil elves or just have a private weekend with loved ones, Fowl Manor puts most five-star hotels to shame.

4. Howl’s Moving Castle

Perfect for hanging laundry!

Originally a 1986 novel written by Diana Wynne Jones, it was adapted by Studio Ghibli in 2004. Wizard Howl lives in a magical castle that appears to be made of blocks of coal since a fire demon named Calcifer holds it together. The door to the castle actually has a doorknob with four dabs of paint, one for each of its four locations. That’s right, this castle has secret portals to four other places! And Howl can change these destinations whenever he wants, so you’re always left guessing! In the anime, the castle was made to look very industrial, and although it doesn’t quite have curb appeal, you really get the bang for your buck with all its extra locations!

3. Ouran Academy in Ouran High School Host Club

Jealous, aren't you?

If you haven’t read this manga by Bisco Hatori or watched the anime or live-action drama, then you are simply missing out. Ouran Academy is a (fictional) private high school in Tokyo where only the richest students attend. Now although it might be weird to say you want to vacation at a school, just look at that photo from the Japanese drama! Talk about classy (pun intended!) But of course, the real reason to visit is to hang out with the Host Club, a group of insanely hot guys whose only job is to treat their clients like princesses. If all schools were like this, dropout rates would vanish, that’s for sure!

2. Hogsmeade from Harry Potter

I guess the amusement park will have to do!

Hogwarts would be the obvious choice, but there’s room for only one school on this list! Plus, Hogsmeade is just as fun. Nothing sounds better than sipping a butterbeer and shopping ’til you drop at Zonko’s Joke Shop. You can even stock up on all the wizarding essentials: wands, quills, cauldrons, and more! While some cynics might call Hogsmeade a magical strip mall, fans know that this destination exudes warmth and plenty of mystery too. If only travel websites could book the Three Broomsticks Inn, I’d reserve a room pronto!

1. Rivendell from The Lord of the Rings

Paradise, plain and simple

If you know me, my #1 fictional vacation destination is no surprise. Meaning “deeply cloven valley,” Rivendell is located in northern Middle Earth near the river Bruinen. Although it does snow there in the winter, the summers are warm–in fact, many allege that it’s on the same latitude as Tolkien’s Oxford and based on a real village in Switzerland where Tolkien had taken a hiking trip. It’s probably the most beautiful setting I’ve ever seen (on film anyway). Who wouldn’t want to mingle with elves among waterfalls and forests? Move over Heaven, because you have competition!

So where would you love to stay in your imagination? Any literary locations that you want to add to the list?

30-Day Book Challenge: The End!

It’s the last day of September! For once, I’m glad my birthday month zoomed by, because it means I’m that much closer to ending 2011, starting anew, getting my Master’s, and finally joining the ‘real world.’ But sadly, the end of September also means the end of the 30-day book challenge. It was a fun list to fill out, and I’ll definitely refer back to it when I’m mulling over what to blog on my slow days.

So here’s the end of the list!

Day 21: Favorite picture book from childhood = Little Critter books by Mercer Mayer

Day 22: Book you plan to read next = 1984 by George Orwell

Day 23: Book you tell people you’ve read, but haven’t (or haven’t actually finished) = Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Day 24: Book that contains your favorite scene = Wizard Howl’s meltdown in Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

Day 25: Favorite book you read in school = Demian by Herman Hesse

Day 26: Favorite nonfiction book = On Writing by Stephen King (book-related), The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins (unrelated)

Day 27: Favorite fiction book (That hasn’t been stated already) = Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

Day 28: Last book you read = The Carrie Diaries by Candace Bushnell

Day 29: Book you’re currently reading = Shoe Addicts Anonymous by Beth Harbison

Day 30: Favorite coffee table book = Uncle John’s Bathroom Readers (I only have magazines on the coffee table, so I chose what’s in my bathroom instead)

As always, feel free to jump in and comment on my choices–or add your own!