Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Testimony: Lewis Barnavelt: Friend for Life

by Jay Cook (2003)
(Originally published at the compleatbellairs.com)

When I was in elementary school in rural Indiana, I spent a rainy Saturday afternoon watching cartoons and drawing while eating my way through a plate of cookies. Soon Vincent Price's mug appeared and began narrating a series of short films based on scary children's books. I continued to draw and munch on cookies, and occasionally looked up at the rather poor acting and special effects being shown on the television.

A few days later, I found one of the featured books in my school library. It was the one with the odd title and the purple and black cover: The House with a Clock in Its Walls. That night, after homework and swim practice, I sat down on my bed and started reading. By bedtime, I was half finished. By bedtime the next night, I finished, and found a new friend. Lewis Barnavelt became my companion for life. He was stocky, bookish, and had a sweet tooth. We shared a love for the dark and mysterious, and we both looked at the stars to wonder what was there to be discovered. We were related in every way including not growing up with our parents. Over the next several years, I wondered less and less into John Bellairs' world, but Lewis kept calling me back. He introduced me to his other friends like Rose Rita, Anthony, Johnny, and Fergie. Despite their best attempts, Lewis' status as best friend has never diminished.

Now, in my 30's, I still read Lewis' adventures with a relish. He made me appreciate John Bellairs' gifts of literary friendship to so many children who had no peers before. John gave those children, and adults, someone to talk to, someone to explore with.

John Bellairs, wherever you are, thank you. Thank you on behalf of all the chubby boys, bookish girls, and eccentric adults. You gave us friends for life. For that, we are in your debt. Thank you for Lewis. He walks with me still.

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