Bread and Jam for Frances by Russell Hoban was the first book I checked out of the library as a second grader. I did not know that Frances was a badger. I thought she was a teddy bear and was very confused while reading the story assuming bears only ate honey, so why was Frances eating jam? I did not have the internet to go to and look up Frances. I believe my father at one point mumbled something about a badger. I had never seen a badger in our woods. I thought this may be like the pink elephant that my father said lived in the back of our woods; a tale he made up to keep us from straying and getting lost. But that did not, in any way, prevent me from reading the Frances the Badger series.
The first time I identified with a literary character was with Frances in A Baby Sister for Frances. Frances feels left out upon the arrival of her little sister. Francis decides to run away and lives under the dining room table. I had to sleep in the same room with my baby sister who cried all night and was keeping me awake. I decided to get revenge by pinching her as I leaned into the crib. Not one of my finer moments, but what can I say? I was two and a half. My sister still brings it up.
Frances the Badger influenced me so much that later on when I was asked to pick my confirmation name, I chose Francesca, after a saint who was a teacher. But, really, I know that it was because I liked the name Francesca. I think the books that we read as young children may have more of an influence on whom we become than most realize.