I've got a crush. Actually a number of them. Since my youthful years so long ago.
I'm picking up this topic from Jennifer Ambrose at The Charmed Bracelet. (Go there and read hers, it's a good post, along with many others!) She brought up the subject of literary crushes from childhood, which got me thinking about my own reading habits from yesteryears.
To be honest, I don't think I read as much fantasy when I was younger. The books that stick out for me now were mostly school books: "The Great Gilly Hopkins" (I loved how tough she was), "Julie of the Wolves" (possibly the start of my love for wolves), "Bridge to Terabithia" (I wished the world they created was real, and even now, I cry a little near the end), and "Tuck Everlasting" (I think my opinion of Winnie and the story changed every few pages, it brought up some complicated issues with immortality to my young mind).
My introduction to fantasy was probably through movies--I can still recite whole passages from "Labryinth" even though it's been a few years since I've watched it--but my first fantasy book that I recall was in fifth grade. [This is another story for another post about an awesome substitute I had. I'll tell it you later. ;) ]
After that, there were some books and characters that really stayed with me, mostly in the fantasy genre.
1. Vanyel Ashkevron in The Last Herald-Mage Trilogy by Mercedes Lackey
He went through a lot of tragedy, but he still worked hard to protect those he cared about, and he sacrificed a lot. I was struck by how he just kept going, even when he wanted to quit. This was also the first book I recall having gay and lesbian characters, who were main characters and side characters, and who were treated as individuals (both by the author and within the story's society). This is still something I feel is lacking in a great many books.
2. Alanna from The Song of the Lioness Quartet by Tamora Pierce
I should add the main character of Pierce's second Tortall quartet as well, Daine (and, frankly, her third with Keladry). Alanna was a twin (which I am not, but twins are awesome!), and she defied her family in order to become a knight. She was strong-willed and created a new family of friends and people she cared for and who cared for her (Jonathan, George, and the royal spymaster, Miles, a great father figure). I've always liked stories that showed the important side of friendship and non-blood families.
Daine was a softer character, a little more introverted, and had that wolf connection I loved, and I felt a more personal connection to her. I think that's something a lot of [young] readers look for, a character they can step into.
3. Sabriel from the Old Kingdom series by Garth Nix
I saw this at a Scholastic book fair at my school. I will admit part of the reason I picked it up was because the titular character had a name similar to mine. A young girl on a journey to find and rescue her father, taking up a huge responsibility in the process--now that I think about it, this might have appealed because of my own childhood a little bit, where I felt my responsibilities (to get As in school, be "perfect") an inescapable burden, but one I was driven to achieve. Honestly, I really need to reread this series, because I've enjoyed Nix's other work and it's been far too long since I traveled with Sabriel.
4. Dorothy and Elphaba from "The Wizard of Oz" and "Wicked" by L. Frank Baum and Gregory MacGuire, respectively
(Idina Menzel as Elphaba)
Okay, so I've read these both in only the past few years, but the play of good versus evil and how those lines can be blurred so much is a theme I'm finding in some of my own work. I saw the Judy Garland film when I was very young and of course, imagined myself in Dorothy's place, but nowadays I think of that scene when the pair first meet and of the confrontation that ends with a bucket of water, and I ponder all the possibilities for new and different stories. Like a lot of fairy tales, I'd like to find a new interpretation and write my own version, because I think there's a lot to be said for finding or making your own path, listening to authority, and the homes and families you make for yourself.
(I feel like there may be a analytical article in all that. Huh.)
There are others. I stuck to characters from series, but as I mentioned in Ambrose's comment section, Eddi from "War for the Oaks" and Jack from "Jack of Kinrowan" are also strong characters that have stayed with me through the years and deserve a reread. They've also helped shape me as a writer in ways I can hardly begin to quantity or qualify.
So dear readers, who are your literary crushes from your childhoods? I'd like to know. I'm curious that way. Comment and better yet, link to your own post. I'd love to read them!