I've decided to start a mini-spotlight for books that I believe should be on every Earthling's reading list (and non-Earthling, as the case may be!). There are so many books to choose from, but I can't resist. I'm going to begin with The Changeling by Zilpha Keatley Snyder.
I was about twelve when my parents first introduced me to Zilpha's books, but The Changeling will always be my particular favorite. It's a middle grade novel that juxtaposes the transcendence of two children's imaginations against the brittle harshness of reality. But it's not about escaping your own reality, more, shaping it, I think.
Martha Abbot is a lonely, suburban-born coward who forms an unlikely friendship with Ivy, a member of the notorious Carson family that is always skipping town for trouble with the law. Martha is fascinated by the peculiar, almost otherworldly Ivy, who claims she is a changeling switched at birth with the real Ivy. As they grow up together, Martha and Ivy get into all sorts of scrapes and weave an intricate dream world where both belong, but neither can stay.