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Young girl reading bookMagic happens at writers’ conferences… So it was no surprise that the air was sparkling with it at the “Practically Perfect” NY13SCBWI Winter Conference. Seriously. How could it not, with Julie Andrews (a.k.a. Mary Poppins) and her amazingly talented daughter Emma Walton Hamilton as keynote speakers?

Julie Andrews has been writing wonderful books for children for forty years–on top of launching the Julie Andrews Collection–and has collaborated with her daughter on 27 titles. To read the SCBWI blog on their presentation, go here: “It Takes Two”. You won’t want to miss it. It’s awesome!

What I wanted to talk about today came from a question asked of Julie Andrews after the presentation…

What book influenced you the most growing up?

A simple enough question … on the surface. But when I peeled back the layers of Open book with sparkles and light swirling outtime and re-experienced the feeling that one book gave me, hooking me on reading for the rest of your life…

Four words: It rocked my world.

That book opened a doorway to magic, imagination, and adventure, and I could go there any time I just by opening the pages. Pretty powerful stuff.

For Julie Andrews, that book was “The Little Gray Men“. She loves that story so much, that she brought it back into print in the Julie Andrews Collection. For the person asking the question, it was Julie Andrews’ first book, “Mandy“.

The House at Pooh CornerFor me it was “The House at Pooh Corner“. I was in the third grade, and the silliness of the story and clever misspelled words, like “rox” and “Wol” won me over instantly. And all the endearing characters were my new BFFs.

My fourth grade teacher read “Charlotte’s Web” to our class, and I fell in love with Wilbur and Charlotte. I’d never really cared much for pigs until then, and I’d been terrified of anything spidery. One story changed all that.

There have been many books since… But “The House at Pooh Corner” will always be my first; the book that was the key to a world of wonder.

How about YOU…

What book rocked your world?

Don’t be shy. You’re among friends here.

And don’t be afraid to tell us about more than one treasured story that changed your life!