Posted by: ktzefr | December 12, 2011

Boy Stories…

This short list of favorite boy characters from children’s books popped into my mind in the first minute or so of mulling it over.  There are many others, of course, but I decided to go with the ones that slipped first into my thoughts. 

1)  Sam Gribley.  In My Side of the Mountain and its sequel On the Far Side of the Mountain (by Jean Craighead George) Sam runs away to the Catskill Mountains to live off the land.  He begins his new life in a tree and eventually builds a habitat and becomes companions with a weasel and a falcon named Frightful.   It’s a story of independence, self-reliance, and struggle.  I love that the “magic” of the story lies in everyday possibilities rather than with witches and wizards.



2) Phillip Enright.  Phillip’s story, by Theodore Taylor, is also about courage and survival.  But, unlike Sam Gribley, who chose to run away and live on his own, Phillip is shipwrecked and ends up on a deserted island in the Caribbean.  Since the wreck has left the boy blind, he is totally dependent on Timothy, an old black man who survived with him on a raft.  In The Cay Timothy teaches the young Phillip about generosity and friendship and how to survive despite his handicap.  The prequel-sequel, Timothy of the Cay, alternates between Phillip’s later struggles and his dream of seeing the island again with his own eyes and the younger Timothy growing up on St. Thomas and dreaming of being the captain of a ship.  It’s a story of two boys with very different lives and different dreams.  


3)  Santiago, the shepherd boy in Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist, is bound to follow his own dreams.  He travels from his home in Spain to the Egyptian desert in search of a treasure buried in the Pyramids.  I love the exotic characters he meets on his quest to gain worldly goods and how the wisdom learned turns his journey inward.  “To realize one’s destiny is a person’s only obligation.” (The Alchemist)  Santiago’s story inspires one to believe that life should always be a pilgrimage.


4)  Tommy.  One of the first stories I read of a boy going on a journey was from a bedtime story book (365 Bedtime Stories by Nan Gilbert).  All of the stories in the book are about the families who live on the same block.  An elderly lady named Mrs. Apricot enjoys telling stories to the children.  Several of these are about a boy named Tommy who traveled the world and had all sorts of adventures, from climbing the pyramids in Egypt to walking the Great Wall of China, as well as having close encounters with lions and spewing volcanoes.  The stories were simple, but they gave me a peek at the world that made travel irresistible. 

5)  My fifth grade teacher read aloud to us on Friday afternoons.  My favorite boy stories were about Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn.  We laughed one minute, felt like crying the next, and were occasionally frozen with fear.  A good teacher can use the original versions of these books to teach about their setting in history, the good and the bad, the struggles and triumphs, as well as the importance of tolerance, colorblindness, and the meaning of friendship. 

I like boy stories, and girl stories as well, that take me on a journey — to a new place or to a new way of looking at the world.


To Come and Go Like Magic was chosen, along with The Alchemist, to be featured in the Weekly Reader’s READ magazine in an issue entitled The Journey Begins. I was thrilled to have my book mentioned alongside Paulo Coelho’s wonderful story of the transforming power of dreams!









  1. That is amazing Katie, congratulations.

    • Thanks, Kathy!

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