Book review: The Book That Made Me: A Collection of 32 Personal Stories, edited by Judith Ridge

The Book That Made Me: A Collection of 32 Personal Stories. Ed. By Judith Ridge. Candlewick, 2017. $9.99. 241p. ISBN 978-0-7636-9671-9. Ages 14+. P7Q9

These primarily Australian authors each provide the background of what led them to write, citing writings that put them on this path. Pieces range from just one page to several pages, sometimes with entertaining drawings, and each entry is prefaced by a caricature or photograph from the author’s childhood. The variety of their choices of reading widely ranges from Baby-Sitters Club to classics such as The Iliad and Moby Dick or adult books such as The World According to Garp. Also mentioned are other popular books like Hatchett and Anne of Green Gables with picture books such as Where the Wild Things Are and those by Dr. Seuss. The list of all these books in the back is an excellent way to continue a reading exploration. The editor also provides brief biographies of the respondents in the back of the book.

Verdict: Although many of these authors are not well-known to people in the United States, the fascinating writing doesn’t appear to be the canned “answer-to-a-question” that sometimes results from these anthologies. All author/anthologist royalties are donated to Australia’s Indigenous Literacy Foundation that sends books homes and schools in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. The question asked of the authors in this book would be an excellent one for everyone, inviting people to share the book(s) that “made them the person they are today.” It’s all about the “power of the story.”

April 2017 review by Nel Ward.

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