Thoughts About Life · Writing

When Magic Pervades My Thoughts

 As is often the case when I settle in to compose a blog post I had set my mind on a likely topic, but promptly found myself unable to find the words… for days.

So I go with the flow. As I sit here now instead of my intended narrative about my month long journey from Nuneaton, England to Lerwick, Shetland (hence my absence here) I feel much more inclined to ruminate on magical children’s books, particularly of the late 19th to early 20th century.

There is no denying that this has much to do with the fact it was only hours before now that I finished my first reading of The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. It is not the first children’s book to leave me in a state of child-like wonderment, I have a growing collection of favourites on my shelf, not all from the same era, but they are more often less modern and technology heavy than otherwise.

The Chronicles of Narnia, Five Children and It, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, The Enchanted Castle, The Dark is Rising Sequence… The feelings these books leave me with is a swirling mix of desire to run across a meadow collecting flowers, building faerie houses, discovering a quest among the trees, taking delight in every little thing from acorns to the gurgling of a brook, having generally no concern for time, but I also feel inclined to sit myself down immediately and focus on the construction of my own story to enchant children and adults alike.

All of these things can be accomplished, in fact the latter would probably be better off with plenty of the former happening beforehand, but my first task must be the attempted civil conversation with my judgemental adult self about how it must loosen up. For Her High and Mighty Judgementalness has a tendency to accuse me of foolishness if I frolic and looks down on me with disdain when I suggest I might be able to write a story well enough someone might like to read it.

My intent to keep a shelf of these books is my attempt to keep myself inspired and reminded of that moment after devouring the last word on the last page, closing the back cover and staring at it entranced while my brain struggles to relocate from one world to the next. At that moment anything feels possible, perhaps I should toss the book aside and charge from the house to plant my own secret garden, or grab another book and quest out for a tree to clamber up and read in, or get in the car and drive somewhere new! Yet I have never done these things at this moment, and why? Because Queen Judgement says “Wasn’t that lovely. Now let’s do some dishes and then spend time worrying about some things that you actually can’t do anything about right now.”

Honestly. There is no reason to feel like I am leaving the magic behind. For here I sit watching the sun gilded clouds drift across a blue sky, while the trees stand in silhouette as the sun has forsaken them in its progress towards the horizon. While all below is a pristine white from the recent snow storm I had the privilege to observe in all its snow globe glory without concern for warmth or food. If all that doesn’t convince me of the magic around me then I shall just look at this photo…

St Ninian’s Beach, Shetland – February 2018

… this beautiful beach may not be on my doorstep, but I have been there and it is of this world, and without a doubt it is magical.

All it takes is to notice it.

I know this is a reoccurring theme with me and I have mentioned it before, but it seems to be a lesson I am taking my time in learning. It seems so simple, but then life does have a way of rearing up its head and grabbing my attention away again.

In the meantime, I would gladly welcome anyone’s suggestions of their favourite magical children’s books. Whether the magic is obvious or just a feeling you’re left with. Please do leave a comment with your recommendations! Thank you!


6 thoughts on “When Magic Pervades My Thoughts

  1. Thank you for providing me with a delightful trip through the library of my childhood!
    Here is my list of suggestions:

    Twig by Elizabeth Orton Jones
    The Mary Poppins books by P.L. Travers
    Bed Knob and Broomstick by Mary Norton
    The Borrowers books by Mary Norton
    The original series of Mrs. Piggle Wiggle books by Betty MacDonald and illustrated by Hilary Knight
    The Rescuers by Margery Sharp
    Miss Bianca by Margery Sharp
    Pippi Longstocking books by Astrid Lindgren
    The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly



    1. Thank you for so many suggestions! Somehow I knew you would know of a few. Some I already had on my list to look into, some I can’t believe I forgot about, and others are new to me! I can’t wait to find them and explore! Thank you.


  2. The Magic Garden by Gene Stratton-Porter.
    I’ve read it only once when I was a child by my random selection at my local library, but I remember feeling that wonderment after closing the back cover like you so beautifully described.
    In fact, I nearly forgot about this book completely until reading your blog post about a similar type of garden. I plan to revisit both soon!


  3. The most magical children’s book I’ve ever read is ‘Tom’s Midnight Garden’ by Philippa Pearce – as well as being magical, reading it with an adult’s perspective it is a very moving story about the passage of time.


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