Magical Books for Children: The Singing Creek Where the Willows Grow

A request I've been getting is for magical book recommendations for children. This is the first of a series of our favorite books, with links for purchasing on our website or Amazon if we can't stock it.
The Singing Creek Where the Willows Grow
Opal Whiteley

"The most wonderful book concerning childhood, and written by a child, that has ever been given to the world"
- London Sphere


If I could, I would create a potion kit for each individual child to match their personality. The first was for our daughter Io, but after that I would love to make one for Opal Whiteley. Granted, she was a child in 1903, but she is an inspiration for all the work we do.

A quick biography: Opal was an orphan in a logging camp in Oregon in 1903. During this time she was 5 and began writing a journal. She was significantly gifted in her prose, vocabulary and imagination. Untrained and only schooled enough to read and write, her language is organic and unusual. Whimsical stories of her imaginary friends, fairies, being in nature, and the struggles of being disciplined make her journal the perfect read aloud book for your dreamy child who can flit about in the flowers or make potions for fairies.

Her family reported that she started reading and writing at three, then started school at five. Her spelling and syntax is phonetic and improvised. Here is the first few lines from her journal:


Translated this reads as "Today the folks are gone away from the house we do live in". The journal moves on into her daily life, her wanderings in the woods and descriptions of her family and surroundings. The language is so pure: 

“Between the ranch-house and the house we live in is the singing creek where the willows grow. We have conversations. And there I do dabble my toes beside the willows. I feel the feels of gladness they do feel.” 

"I went along the path until I came near unto the way that does lead to the big old log where is the moss-box. I hid behind a tree when I was almost come there. I so did to wait a wait to see if the fairies were near about. I looks about."

Her journal was transcribed and published from her drawings and writings around 1920 after she graduated early from the University of Oregon. There is a detailed history for her life at the beginning of the the book, it's a good read for an older child after reading her journal.

This book is out of print, but you can find used copies on Amazon and Ebay. It will be treasured in your home library, I promise!

“When I grow up, I am going to write for children — and grownups that haven't grown up too much — all the earth-songs I now do hear.” 

1 comment

  • Theresa

    Oh thanks for the recommendation, I just purchased this book. I looked for it on the website betterworldbooks but they did not have it. I found a copy from amazon that will ship from Powell’s in Portland, OR. May I recommend a book worthy of a potion box?
    The Magician’s Elephant by Kate DiCamillo. Far from Opal’s country side, this urban tale is coal dark, hungry, yet full of hope and wonder.

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