But thanks to Andrew, I met the Hardy Boys and Hans Brinker. I went Where the Red Fern Grows and imagined living on My Side of the Mountain. I loved My Side of the Mountain but knew, even as a child reading it, that I would have been miserable and never survived on the mountain. I think, on the other hand, it sparked Andrew's imagination, and he pictured himself surviving, even thriving, in the wild. It had that same effect on my own boy who was captivated by it when he read it last year. And, thanks to Andrew, I read one of the best series of my youth, John D. Fitzgerald's Great Brain books. Oh, how I adored The Great Brain. For that, I am forever in his debt. Those books gave me hours and hours of enjoyment.
I am looking forward to my own kids meeting The Great Brain, TD, and Sweyn, and reliving their adventures. Every once in awhile, I read a book with my kids and think how much the eight or ten or twelve year old Andrew would have loved it. Eoin Colfer's Half Moon Investigations being a perfect example. It combines humor,mystery, plot twists, and adventures he would have relished. The first time I read one of Jon Scieszka's Time Warp Trio books, I physically felt sad that it hadn't existed in 1977, because boy, was there a kid I knew who would have enjoyed it.
When my sons and daughter picture their Uncle Andrew, the image is not of a man sitting in an armchair reading a book. No, I'm sure what they conjure in their minds' eyes is a guy hosting legendary family parties, telling stories, shooting off fireworks, allowing them to help him use (God help us) his chainsaw, wrestling with them, teaching them to shoot a BB gun, cheering at their games, and more. But still, thanks to him, they've got some great books on their shelves because he is a reader and always has been, and he's been a huge influence on my taste in literature.