I was seven years old, approaching my eighth birthday when my older brother Colin announced that he would not get me a birthday present unless I read this book. And this book was the Water Babies by Charles Kingsley. At the time I struggled to read at all, let alone a whole big book. But I wanted that present, so I dove in, and was completely captured. A quick trip to Wikipedia tells me that it now has fallen out of favour, as it fosters prejudice against Irish, Jews, Americans, and the poor. Who knew? None of that registered with me. I read it, initially begrudgingly, and then with love. The story, and the images it conjured in my mind’s eye occupied my hopes and dreams for the weeks and months that followed. I now cannot remember what Colin gave me for my birthday, but I guess the enduring present was learning to love to read.