Like most children, animal stories were always on my reading list and some of the ones I read then have stood the test of time-Call of The Wild, The Yearling, Black Beauty, The Red Pony . Two of my most read were horse stories, King of The Wind which is the story of The Godolphin's Barb, and The Mystery Horse, by Louise Riley. I think I can still remember the latter well enough after decades to recite the first page verbatim. Pardon a slight pause here while I assure myself that yes, I can. And of course, I read every book, Anne or otherwise, that L. M. Montgomery wrote.
While not leaving my animal stories or my Anne books behind, I began to read mysteries as well. Of course I started with Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys and Enid Blyton's Adventure series, but soon I moved on to my mother's Perry Mason stories and eventually to the Queen of Crime herself, Agatha Christie.
Although my childhood is decades gone in the rear view mirror, not many would stop at this list of books and authors and say "Who are they?" Even forty years after her death, Dame Agatha is still setting sales records.
All of these books have been analyzed by more perceptive people than I am, but the common denominator must be an appeal to the basics of the characters themselves. Settings lose their popularity, plots are repeated over and over. But the characters? They are the unique part of the book that gives it longevity, whether they are animal or human. No one can forget the red headed Anne Shirley once they've met her on the pages of a Montgomery book and no one can replace the mustachioed Hercule Poirot as a sleuth. And Black Beauty? Imagine the tears that have been shed over those pages.
I guess that's what we all are striving for-every time we write a story or book. We want people to feel for our characters and remember them after they turn the last page. We'd like to picture, fifty years from now, someone finding some old story of ours and curling up in a cozy corner, ready to make new friends.