Friends at Every Age


The girls and I have been reading a lot of Magic Tree House lately.  And the Clementine series:  Sara Pennypacker’s writing is smart and fun; plus if Marla Frazee wanted to sketch something in tattoo ink on my arm, I’d let her—she’s that good of an illustrator. 

But we went retro this week with The Secret Garden, a retold version of the original—more suitable for younger readers. 

Once the girls were introduced to Mary Lennox, her nice friend Dickon, and her surly cousin Colin, they could not get enough.   We usually read at night before bed, but when they came home from school on Monday, immediately post-snack they wanted to plant it on the couch to finish up the story.   They wondered if Colin’s father would ever return.  They worried the garden would be discovered.

I felt like I’d set two friends up on a blind date and was so pleased with myself because they had really hit it off.

It got me thinking about how I reacted to the same tale as a kid, how much I liked Mary even though she was a bit of a pill at the start of the story. 

And it got me thinking about other characters I had the chance to know while I was growing up.   I wondered if and when my girls would meet them–and when and if they did, would they even get along?

Even so, I’m working on a list.  A list of potential friends for Caroline and Lexi.  If school or neighborhood buddies ever get them down, they have resources—they can reach out to me, of course, but when I become entirely un-cool and my girls only want to be with their peers, they’ve got solid options. 

And these kids aren’t going to post something mean about them on Facebook. 

  •  Age 5: Heidi, Christopher Robin
  • Age 6: Elouise, Laura Ingalls
  • Age 7: Alice in Wonderland ( 7.5 exactly)
  • Age 8: Lucy Pevensie (Narnia)
  • Age 9: Pippie Longstocking
  • Age 10: Mary Lennox
  • Age 11: Anne of Green Gables
  • Age 12: Huck Finn, Jim Hawkins (Treasure Island)
  • Age 13: Anne Frank (13 when given her diary)
  • In high school, about 14: Meg Murray (Wrinkle in Time)
  • Age 15: Jo (Little Women)
  • Age 16: Phinneas (Separate Peace)
  • Age 17: Holden Caulfield
  • Age 18: Nancy Drew (16 in earlier versions) and Jane Eyre (when she gets to Thornfield)
  • Age 20: Elizabeth Bennett


Which characters would be on your list?


One Comment on “Friends at Every Age”

  1. Katie says:

    a comment (via email) from my book-lovin’ sister, Paula:

    I don’t remember the kids’ names in “The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler” but remember loving the book. Fern – the girl in Charlotte’s Web, Stuart Little is the mouse – I don’t remember the boy’s name. Arthur -in The Sword in the Stone, Harry Potter – he’s 11 at the start of the story I think – so with Anne. The Bobbsey Twins (Nan and Bert). I first read about Francis Crawford of Lymond when I was 15. He’s just a few years older in the first book.

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