many parents, Dr. Nancy McCabe enjoyed rediscovering the books of her childhood
as she read to her own young daughter.
her new book, “From Little Houses to Little Women: Revisiting a Literary Childhood,”
McCabe fully explores her lifelong relationship with fictional friends. Meeting
the characters of her youth again was no chance bumping into an old
acquaintance. Rather, it was a chance to examine as an adult the places and
people who had inspired and driven her to become a writer herself.
began with the books closest to her family, the Laura Ingalls Wilder “Little
House” books about growing up on the 19th century prairie, reading
them to her then-3-year-old daughter, Sophie, just as her mother had read them
to her when she was 3 years old.
Kansas native, McCabe said her mother closely identified with Wilder. McCabe’s
grandfather had come to Kansas in a covered wagon, and her mother had gotten
her teaching license at 19, echoing the circumstances of the “Little House”
mother, in fact, lived down the road from an older Wilder when she began
writing her “Little House” books. As McCabe and her female cousins grew up in
Kansas, her mother and aunts took them to multiple “Little House” sites.
McCabe read the books to Sophie, she itched to show her own daughter the same
places. Gradually they revisited the sites as part of family trips, and McCabe,
a prolific essayist, began writing about these trips.
after an extended literary vacation to the Midwest, a friend suggested they
visit Prince Edward Island, Canada, home of the Lucy Maud Montgomery’s “Anne of
Green Gables” books. A trip was planned and a pattern emerged that became the
making of this literary traveling memoir.
added more stories and series and sites about girls who wanted to grow up to be
writers: Maud Hart Lovelace’s “Betsy Tacy” books set in fictional Deep Valley,
Minn., and Louisa May Alcott’s “Little Women” among them.
with her literary travelogue are chapters on the values she learned from
reading and how her own imagination developed through books. Those chapters
allowed her to explore even more beloved books and writers: Louise Fitzhugh’s
“Harriet the Spy,” EB White’s “The Trumpet of the Swan,” Carolyn Keene’s “Nancy
Drew” books and more.
the book now in print from the University of Missouri Press, McCabe has
especially enjoyed giving readings and talks, where audience members often
share their own childhood stories with her.
been the most fun part of this book – hearing people talk about their own
memories,” she said.
will be continuing those conversations through two blogs, her “Rereading
Childhood” blog on her website, www.nancymccabe.net
, and a forthcoming blog about literary travel on the website of the noted
literary magazine, www.pshares.org.
is McCabe’s fourth full-length book. Her work has won a Pushcart Prize for
the notable lists for Houghton-Mifflin Best American anthologies and won two
awards from the literary magazine Prairie Schooner.
Friends of Hanley Library and Pitt-Bradford Nontraditional Student Association
will hold a reading and launch party for the book at 7 p.m. Jan. 14, 2015, in
the Mukaiyama University Room of the Frame-Westerberg Commons. The public is