Saturday, November 30, 2002

The Bullies, the Rings, and the Books

I just finished reading the 20th anniversary expanded edition of The Monster’s Ring written by popular children’s author Bruce Coville and in many ways it reminded me of some of the stories of John Bellairs, particularly The Curse of the Blue Figurine which also features a magic ring and a bully by the name of Eddie. As I read it, I was pleasantly surprised to find an actual reference to one of John’s books therein. To help get into the Halloween spirit, Russell Crannaker, the book’s protagonist, decides to read a scary story, and guess what? Russell has good taste:


The night wore on. Russell did his homework, then read some of a very spooky book called The House with a Clock in Its Walls. [11]

At the local public library I decided to check the expanded edition with the original and found that the reference to House was only made in the later edition. I also found it interesting that Mr. Coville’s original book came out the year before Bellairs' Curse. As this needed some explaining, I thought to send Mr. Coville a note and see if he could shed some light on the issue. He did indeed.
I love John Bellairs's work - which, of course, is one reason I was trying to steer kids in that direction with that reference in Monster's Ring. To the best of my memory, that's the only allusion to his work in my own novels, but it's possible I slipped something into a book a while ago and just don't recall it now.

I had the pleasure of meeting John briefly several years ago at a children's literature conference, and only wish that I had had time to speak with him more, get to know him a bit more. He captures a certain kind of sensibility beautifully. As I said in the authors note to Ring, I was always looking for just the right book to read on Halloween night. John wrote exactly those kind of books. I wish he had been publishing them when I was a kid! I would have eaten them up!

As much as I like the kids books, one of my all time faves is The Face in the Frost. In a better world it would be continually in print, and much better known."

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