Warm thoughts from long ago rushed into my mind. I answered, “Tommy Little.” A puzzled look crossed the instructor’s face. She had never heard of this title.
Not surprising. I met Tommy Little during the late 1950’s, in one of my first grade reading books.
Oddly enough I could not remember one story from that book. I only knew this character became my friend as the class worked through each chapter. Although I seldom cried as a child, the tears flowed when the time came to hand in that reading book, and say good-bye to Tommy.
The instructor’s question made me wonder if any Tommy Little books had survived class after class of six-year-olds. Doubtful, since the books in my school were paperbacks, and over five decades has passed since I had seen a copy.
With nothing to lose and not expecting to find anything, I checked for the title on e-bay. To my surprise, copies of Tommy Little popped up for sale on the site. A few days later, a good-condition, hardback copy arrived.
After reading though the book, I realized why the fictional Tommy turned into my friend. Each chapter introduced a mild problem that a first-grader could relate to, showed how it affected Tommy, and had a satisfying resolve to the problem – an actual storyline that made Tommy Little seem like a real child.
These days I write children’s stories and books. Aside from writing a good tale with a take-away value, I want my main character to become a good friend of the child reading my story. Everyone needs a friend.