Sunday, May 24, 2009

A few favorite places

My absolute favorite place in anything I've ever read is the Murry's kitchen in A Wrinkle in Time. There is something so warm and inviting about that kitchen. From the very first time we go there, with Meg, to have hot cocoa with Charles Wallace and her mother. The way the family gathers there, the way they--and we--all know that Mrs. Murry always has dinner cooking on a bunsen burner in her lab next door, the way that adventure also begins there. For we first meet Mrs. Whatsit in that kitchen, too. It's a comforting oasis in the middle of a dark and stormy night.

There are a lot of other places I love in literature, too. Thinking about all of them, I've realized that they generally have two things in common. Either they are the places where the characters gather with their friends and loved ones, or they are the places where they go to be free and entirely themselves. As a kid, I definitely had a soft spot for any story in which the character had a place of his or her own--a place no one else knew about and was completely his or hers. It seemed so . . . luxurious, and even a little illicit.

My list of favorite places:
* The Murry's kitchen, from Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time
* Mary's secret garden, from, well, Frances Hodgson Burnett's The Secret Garden
* Mandy's cottage, from Julie Andrews Edwards's Mandy
* Miss Honey's cottage, from Roald Dahl's Matilda
* the room with the wardrobe and Mr. Tumnus's house, from C. S. Lewis's The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
* the Garland's house in Bloomsbury, from Philip Pullman's The Ruby in the Smoke and The Shadow in the North (which made the end of the latter heartbreaking for so many reasons!)
* Gryffindor common room, from J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter books
* the Dancing Dove, from Tamora Pierce's Alanna books
* Terabitha, from Katherine Paterson's A Bridge to Terabithia
the truck in Lynne Rae Perkins's Criss Cross
* Beauty's room, from Robin McKinley's Beauty

What are yours?


  1. The chocolate room in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

  2. I'll second the chocolate room. And Bilbo's hobbit hole. Always loved his house--so cozy.

  3. what a wonderful topic! if only we could steal for the enchanted inkpot!! =D

    i loved the bamboo grove from my own book.

    i loved the attic in a little princess, where she was cast to but then turned magical.

    i really enjoyed the theatre illuminata in lisa mantchev's debut, eyes like stars. such a fantastic read and so original! i recommend it!

  4. I have yet to read EYES LIKE STARS, but it's on my list! And yes, agreed to the awesomeness of chocolate room, bamboo grove, and Sara's attic in A LITTLE PRINCESS!

  5. The dollhouse in The Tale of Two Bad Mice. And for some reason I have been seeing a lot about A Wrinkle in Time lately and I realize that I have never read it. Now I want to, especially to see this kitchen you spoke of!

  6. We overlap a lot: the Garland house, the Dancing Dove, the Murry family's kitchen...but I would also add Howl's castle (from Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones), Juniper's cottage from Juniper (by Monica Furlong), the Jenny Haniver from Philip Reeve's Hungry City Chronicles, the Heart of Gold from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Er...I could probably go on.

  7. The graveyard was spectacularly described in Gaiman's recent The Graveyard Book. Also enjoyed how Gary Schmidt made me feel like I was rocking in a canoe on the ocean in Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy. Lastly, the entire world in The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster.

  8. I'll second the Gryffindor common room. I'll also add inside James' peach, preferably when it wasn't at sea.


  9. What a wonderful topic. It wasn't until you said so that I realized I had always gotten the same golden glowy feeling from the Murry's kitchen and the Dancing Dove. Sort of delightful to have little revelations like that after years and years of re-reading.

    You hit all of mine. The only other ones I think I'd include are Luthe's lake and the coffeehouse in SUNSHINE. Apparently, McKinley seems to hit my comfort button every time.

  10. Anne of Green Gables gave me a lifelong (and as yet, unfulfilled) dream to go to Prince Edward Island. And I loved how she made her surroundings her own- like naming Violet Vale and the Lake of Shining Waters.

    I also really loved Helen Dunmore's descriptions of the Cornwall coast in the Ingo series.

  11. I agree with the kitchen from A Wrinkle in Time, and add Mrs. Weasley's kitchan, I could definately snuggle up there with a good book, while the dishes washed themselves nearby!

    I too have always loved the garden in The Secret Garden. As well as the house in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, the whole house it just seems like a great house to explore!

    Oh what about Bilbo's place! I would love to holiday there!

    I too could go on and on!!

  12. What a fun topic. Mandy's cottage was certainly a childhood favorite. I haven't thought of that book for a long time! And I'd love to hang out in Gryffindor Common room a bit! Actually, all of them sound quite nice.

  13. Clement Hurd's "Goodnight Moon" room.

    Sherlock Holmes' sitting-room in Baker Street.

    The deck of the Pequod.

    Under Ferdinand's cork tree.

    Any place Garth Williams and Beatrix Potter depicted.

  14. oh such a great topic!! Oh I can smell the kitchen in Wrinkle in time right now!!

    I have to agree with your list, but I must add a few more:

    Max's room "That very night in max's room a forest grew, and grew and grew.."

    The little house...her perfect green hill with cherry blossom trees... by virginia lee burton

    The cosy spot under the trees in Velveteen rabbit

  15. I love the Weasley's house in Harry Potter...Pipi's house in Pipi Longstocking...the organic food shop in Clarice Bean...and the gardens at Darcy manner in Pride and Prejudice. Also, at the BYU conference, just found your blog...your talk was great.

  16. I'll add the roof in Getting Near to Baby and the whole setting in Nory Ryans Song....that was a fantasic get away. I also loved the trailer in When Zachary Beaver Came to Town.

    So many great ones to chose from, really.

    Hope you enjoyed your time in rainy Provo!

  17. Hey, I know that roof - I painted the jacket for Getting Near to Baby.

    And I'd add Kind Dog's old doghouse in Angela Banner's Happy Birthday with Ant and Bee. He gets a new place at the end, but, frankly, it's a bit antiseptic. One day her books will be reprinted, I hope.

  18. Ian, that's so awesome! I love that book and the cover is beautiful. It really captures the mood of sad Little Sister and hopeful Willa Jo. Nice to (virtually) meet you :D

  19. What a homey topic! I have to agree with you, especially about Beauty's room but I'd love to have access to that library and the gardens that went on for ever! Also, I always thought the Beaver's was a nice cozy place, and I always dreamed of seeing Cair Paravel in it's prime, not as a ruin :)