by Joyce Lamb)
HEA asked some of our favorite romance authors to share their memories about a favorite childhood toy. Enjoy!
Alethea Kontis, author of Enchanted and Hero
My favorite childhood toy is a teddy bear named Charlie ... yes, the infamous Charlie mentioned in all of my bios. I picked him out at the store when I was 14 or 15. He was the only bear with a crooked nose and I was in the habit of collecting misfits (still am). Mom bought him but said I couldn't have him until Christmas, so I named him in the car on the way home — Charlemagne Montesquieu, the Marquis of Albec — and didn't see him again until Christmas morning. Charlie and I have been inseparable ever since.
Annie Seaton, author of Tangling with the CEO
My favorite childhood toy was a teddy bear called … very originally ... Ted! My parents bought him for me when I was born which means he is now in his fifth decade! I adored him and since that time, he has graced my bed, my children's beds, and now Ted spends his days dozing in the guest room where my grandchildren sleep when they come to visit. He is aging well but has unfortunately lost his eyes, and the pads of his hands and his feet are very worn. I love writing sweet romance with children, and I am sure Ted will make a guest appearance in a book very soon.
Grace Burrowes, author of Trenton: Lord of Loss
My favorite toy was a 5-inch high Steiff bear named Moist. He acquired this name when some brother or other pitched him into the pool, or maybe I tried to teach him to swim, and it took him THREE DAYS to dry out. My older brother Tom once came upon me in tears over some mishap. He picked up Moist and started slowly twirling his little head. In bear sing-song Tom started in with, "Where is the front of me, the front of me, the front of me? Where is the front of me? HERE IT IS!" I found this hilarious, though I don't think Moist quite saw the humor. On my last birthday, Tom e-mailed me: "I guess you found the front of you!" It's been more than 50 years since I acquired that little bear, and I hope Moist is proud of me.
Kristan Higgins booey
Kristan Higgins' Booey.(Photo: Kristan Higgins)
Kristan Higgins, author of Waiting on You
Behold Booey, the best-loved teddy bear in the universe! He was my birthday present the year I turned 2. This lack of fur, facial features and, er, any identifying marks is not evidence of abuse or disease, but of my profound love and superior snuggling skills. The scarf around his neck was knitted by my sister, to hide Booey's surgical scars. Booey now resides in my office, where he is occasionally swept up into his owner's arms for a twirl or two and a few grateful kisses.
Kate Kelly, author of In Plain Sight
OK, here's the thing. I grew up in a fairly large family — six kids — and when I reminisce about certain toys with my siblings, one of them often claims that particular toy belonged to her, not me. Which always takes the shine off my memories. And my parents would often confuse who was interested in what. If I was taking tennis lessons, they'd buy a tennis racket for my older sister, and I'd end up with the downhill skis I never wanted. So pinning down a favorite toy is muddy waters for me. But we did have a little red wheel barrow my grandfather had made for ... one/all of us. It survived six children and six grandchildren. Sadly, I don't know what happened to that wheel barrow. My mother regularly threw things away, including any gifts we bought for her.
I do remember, though, spending many happy hours at the lake hauling copious amounts of rocks from one spot to another for no apparent reason other than to use the wheel barrow. You know what's really strange? My husband has started building rock walls at our house, and I'm back to hauling rocks from one spot to another. And my wheel barrow is red!
Mia Marlowe, author of Plaid Tidings
My favorite childhood toy couldn't be bought in a store. My clever young mother used empty cereal boxes and cut out little cardboard horses for me and my sister to gather into Lincoln log corrals or gallop across hills formed by our knobby knees. As I look back on them, I realize the little horses' ears were long enough to make them rather donkey-ish and their squat legs qualified them as miniatures instead of Clydesdales, but when their legs were bent just so, my cardboard equines could stand on their own fibrous hooves.
This toy helped my imagination stand on its own, too, which is the best thing a toy can do.
Heather Lire, author of Second Chance at Passion
My favorite childhood toy was my Cabbage Patch doll Abby Ivy. When these dolls came out, they weren't available in my small farming town, so all the little girls in my school had homemade versions, but we all agreed we wanted the real ones. Then they came to town. Imagine Black Friday madness over the rush to get these dolls. My best friend Jenifer and mine's parents told us that the store had run out of dolls before they could get ones for us. We were so bummed. Until Christmas morning when I opened my presents from Santa and there was my Abby Ivy. I hauled that doll around everywhere, to school, to my friends' house, to my Little League games, EVERYWHERE. And if one of my three younger sisters even dared to touch her, blood was shed. Thirty years later, I still have her.
Madeline Hunter, author of The Accidental Duchess (June 3)
My favorite childhood toy was a large set of wooden blocks. We did not have the money for a store-bought set, so my mom went to a carpenter and bought up his scrap wood and had him cut the pieces into blocks and sand them smooth. So my blocks came in all kinds of sizes and shapes. I spent hours building with them over the years — lots of castles and houses and forts — and making up stories that took place in them. My mom thought I was going to become an architect after seeing my interest. I guess in a way I did become one, only it was a word architect. Today, when I start a new book, it is not unusual for me to sketch out the buildings and properties in which it will take place. I still get itchy fingers when I see a set of building blocks, too, but the sets in stores strike me as very limited and the blocks kind of puny. I don't still have my old set, unfortunately. They disappeared during one of the family moves.
Cathy Lamb, author of If You Could See What I See
My favorite childhood toy was a tiny ceramic statue of Little Bo Peep who lost her sheep. She has a fluffy yellow dress on with a huge bow, a jaunty yellow hat, and she's carrying a basket of flowers. Now, it's surprising that I loved Little Bo Peep. She did, after all, look rather prissy. Plus, she had lost her sheep. Come on, Bo Peep, keep track of 'em. As a kid, I ran around outside all the time. I climbed trees, hid in forts, played tag and hide and seek, and would never have brushed my hair had my mother not insisted. To put it kindly, I was quite homely. Bo Peep was not. She had every lock in place. She even wore lipstick. I rarely wore dresses. We were exact opposites. But I loved her and her sparkly gold shoes, and still have her, to this day. That ditzy Bo Peep lost her sheep, and that my last name is now Lamb is not lost on me.
Rebecca York, author of Dark Moon
Your question brings back such vivid memories. In my neighborhood, all the preteen girls discovered Sandra Sue dolls. I know I'm dating myself, but this was before girls' action figures grew breasts. These were a little shorter and chubbier than a Barbie, without the curvy adult figure but with better hair. Wise to merchandising opportunities, the manufacturers provided lots of different outfits you could buy for them and even furniture, like beds, where they could have some of their more intimate adventures. These well-dressed dolls became the heroines of endless hair-raising sagas that I made up. And as I've looked back, I've realized that my dolls always starred in stories that were romantic suspense, often starting when they were kidnapped by pirates or Indians or billionaires with their own private Caribbean islands. Sadly, the dolls themselves are long gone because their arms and legs were attached with thick interior rubber bands that eventually broke, but I do have one foot-high Sandra Sue armoire, missing its doors, that I now use to hold boxes of tea.
Abigail Sharpe, author of Who Wants to Marry a Doctor?
I went through the gamut of Barbie dolls (remember the ones that had a scent?), stuffed animals (including a monkey), and other games and toys, but I've always had a fondness for Connect Four. It wasn't warm or cuddly or one of a kind, but it was colorful and made noise and fun to play. Anyone could play it, and I would hound my family members until they did.
Fast-forward 30 years. I was so excited when my oldest child turned 7. Not only is 7 a great age to be, but it meant that he was at the manufacturer's recommended age for Connect Four. Guess what he got for his birthday that year? Though I think it was more for me than for him.
What's your favorite childhood toy?
*Blogger's note: I was big into arts and crafts but with my mother's Barbie collection, I had more story lines and series than any book out there now! I LOVE my barbies and still collect. When I was younger boy I am not kidding they had some serious story lines going on. I have a great imagination.