I don't remember being aware of authors as such when I was a kid. The only one whose name made an impression on me was C.S. Lewis, partly because it's such an excellent name, partly because I was so desperate to find something that moved me like the Chronicles of Narnia that I tried to find all his other books and ended up reading The Screwtape Letters. It didn't exactly work out.
The other author whose name I knew was Judy Blume, because…because she's Judy Blume, that's why! She was just spoken of, is all. We talked about Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret, we talked about Forever (yes, and page 56? Or 156? I'm looking at you, people who were 13 in 1978).
But other than those two? I knew the books, not the authors.
And so the other day I was taken aback when we were unpacking all our books (hallelujah!) and this happened:
Me to Chestnut: Oh, look at this! You would love Blubber. It's upsetting but excellent.
Chestnut (sternly): No thank you.
Me: But you'd really like it! It's just the kind of stuff you like to read about, and it's Judy Blume! You would love Judy Blume.
Chestnut (still more sternly): No! I've read Judy Blume. I read all the Fudge books.
Me: Oh, those are great, but I really think you'd like this, it's all about—
Chestnut (with great dignity): I already have a favorite author. My favorite author is Pam Munoz Ryan.
I was…struck. Who has a favorite author when they're 9? It was the seriousness of it all that killed me. And she does, indeed, love the work of Pam Munoz Ryan.
And it just seemed clear: the independent and interior world that my children have built with their reading is established, and it's just a foreshadowing, really, of the actual private world they will create for themselves as they get older. At least I think it is. It's sort of like how girls' feet grow full size first, and then the rest of them catches up. First you determine your own independent literary taste, then your own life.
I'm glad she has a favorite author. And I respect that it's someone whose work she discovered outside our house, a writer who is quite wonderful in her own way, even if it's not Judy Blume.