Jan 31, 2009

My Favorite Childhood Author

“If you have no imagination then you have no wings.”
~African Poverb

I will always be in debt to Ann M. Martin for making me a reader. Without her books to guide me through the difficult years of early reading I would have simply given up.

But it is Cherie Bennett who I credit with broadening my reading world beyond the Baby Sitter’s Club. After buying Sunset Island in late elementary school I was seduced away from the babysitting life to the exotic world of an au pair. I was the first one in my grade to move away from Ann M. Martin and my copies of the Sunset series were quickly circulating around; through all the girls and even some of the boys.

I admired Cherie and wrote her countless letters. The amazing thing was that she always wrote back. Just a few handwritten lines at the bottom of a form letter, but they meant the world me. (Between 1991 and 1998 Cherie received over 12,000 letters. It is an honor to know some of them were mine. It takes a special kind of author and very dedicated person to answer all her fans personally.)

Recently I was able to reconnect with Cherie briefly and thank her for the joy I felt in receiving her letters. She responded to thank me and shared some sad personal news. I decided to read the book that inspired me to reconnect with her in honor of her news and encourage you to keep her in your thoughts and hearts.

Zink is a powerful novel with a touching back story. It is dedicated in part to her parents and is defined as her by written by her mother. The dedication reads:

“For my parents – Roslyn Cantor, who loves me as much as Diane loves Becky, and Dr. Bennett H. Berman, whose love from a world far, far away inspired me to create Papa Zeke.”

But the book is also dedicated to the memory of a very special little girl. A little girl whose mind and story grew into a play, followed by a novel. Cherie talks about this girl in the Acknowledgements of Zink,

“In 1982, a girl name Kelly Weil was born. In 1991, she was diagnosed with cancer. Two years later, despite spectacular advances in childhood cancer treatment, she was dead.

A few months before her death, Kelly wrote a one-page story about a polka-dotted Zebra named Zink.”

This story was very moving and a great honor to the memory of Kelly. The book is illustrated by various children who have been affected by cancer. It adds yet another layer to the story. And their bios are also included in the back of the book.

Even though I have never met Cherie personally, she is one of the warmest and most generous people I know. As a young adult I even considered her my hero. Thanks again Cherie for all you have given me.

5 comments:

  1. Thank you for your post! We have Zink in the library where I work. I read it to the children this summer during our 1st Annual CrED (Created Equal Days) program. I warned the kids not to get upset, but I can't read it without tearing up. The author was 11! I hope it meant something to them.

    ReplyDelete
  2. What a wonderful tribute, Megan! I can't really say I had an author during my childhood that made that kind of impression on me, but I do remember the first letter I ever wrote to an author and his response. He was very encouraging of my own interest in writing and will always have a special place in my heart.

    Zink does sound like a powerful book, not to mention a moving tribute to a girl that speaks volumes about the author.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Wow, what a great tribute. I had a favorite author, one who with out him, I probably would not have been reading as much as I did. The difference though is mine was all about cowboys and Indians. Louis L'Amour, had a large influence on my childhood reading, Then Tolkin.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hey Megan,

    I've never commented before, but I just HAD to after seeing this post. This was my FAVORITE book from when I was younger. I borrowed it from my school library SO many times. When we had a book sale at the library, my friend bought it, and she gave it to me. I still have it, and I read it at least once a year. It never gets old to me, and I always cry. It's amazing.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I will also always be in debt to Ann M. Martin not only for making me a reader but also for being a really really nice person. She once came in to the restaurant I worked in in high school and she overheard a conversation I was having with some regulars about my upcoming summer abroad in Australia. It was an academic trip and when she payed her bill she left me a HUGE tip and told me to have a great trip. I basically worship her now.

    ReplyDelete

Bibliophile Exploring Dystopia | Speculative Fiction | Food & Community