What I recall is that I was finally able to read the book that had been given to me as a gift for being in the hospital. The Secret Garden. Though it’s been nearly four decades, I can still feel the magic of that story. Everything disappeared. There was just Mary Lennox, a vast stretch of moor, and a mysterious garden. She found her key, and I found mine. I don’t think my parents saw me without a book in hand for the next ten years.
October 20, 1973. That was the day my world changed. We were driving down the Palisades Parkway. “It’s a beautiful day,” my mom said. The sun was shining and autumn was in its full splendor. I looked out at the blur of orange and yellow.
I was seven and a half and we were on our way to Columbia Presbyterian to get my glasses. I had recently had cataract surgery. (In my family, cataracts are congenital.) I’d been squinting my way through school and pretending to sharpen my pencil multiple times a day so I could sneak up and decipher what was on the blackboard.
On the way home, I looked out the window, and for the first time, I could see the individual leaves on the trees. “It is a beautiful day,” I said. My mom recalls that moment fondly.
If it hadn’t been The Secret Garden, it would have undoubtedly been another novel. I was hardwired to be a reader. But, wow, unlocking the gate to a secret garden was certainly an amazing way to become initiated into the Nerdy Book Club!
Corey Rosen Schwartz is the author of HOP! PLOP! (Walker, 2006), THE THREE NINJA PIGS (Putnam, 2012) GOLDI ROCKS AND THE THREE BEARS (Putnam, forthcoming) and NINJA RED (Putnam, forthcoming). Corey has no formal ninja training, but she sure can kick butt in Scrabble. She lives with three Knuckleheads in Warren, NJ. You can find her online at http://www.coreyrosenschwartz.com and on Twitter as @CoreyPBNinja.