What I Read When I Was Young: Miriam Körner

Miriam Körner is an award winning writer and illustrator for children and young adults. Her stories reflect her love for northern Canadian wilderness and the people who make the North their home. Her young adult novel “Yellow Dog” and her picture book “When the Trees Crackle with Cold: pīsimwasinahikan” (co-authored by Bernice Johnson-Laxdal) can both be found on this year’s Willow Awards List. 


What was your favourite picture book? What was special about it?

Good question. I only recall two picture books. One was an LP ‘Peter und der Wolf’ (Peter and the Wolf). It came with a picture book and my brother and I would look at the images as the LP was playing. Both music and text were scary and fascinating. I also remember ‘Wo die wilden Kerle wohnen’ (Where the wild things are’). At the time I did not realize that it wasn’t meant to be scary! Nor did I realize I was reading North American authors already back then.


What was the first chapter book you read?

No idea! I just remember reading ravenously as a teenager. Not much memories before then other than the books that scared me. There was a chapter book with a fox who stole a goose and whose tail got shot off by a farmer. I even recall the line drawing of the fox licking his bloody stump but not the title of the book. I had nightmares for many years.


What was your favourite chapter book? What was special about it?

I loved everything by Astrid Lindgren, especially ‘Die Brüder Löwenherz’ (Brothers Lionheart). The relationship between the two brothers always drew me in and the promise of a better world after death. But that’s not really a chapter book.




Did you ever reread your favourite chapter book once you became an adult? Did it stand the test of time?

I reread a few middle grade and young adult novels. I thought I was reading adult books back then. Ha, was I wrong! Lots of disappointment!


Did you read comic books? Which was your favourite?

Not when I was young. I discovered that world much later. Oh wait: I read ‘Maus’ (Mouse), a graphic novel about the Holocaust. Graphic novels were a very new genre back then I believe.


Did you prefer fiction or non-fiction?



Did you like series? Which ones?

I didn’t seek out any series, but I was always upset that the book I just finished reading wasn’t one.


Did you have a local library? What do you remember about it?

I remember the old building with the squeaking gigantic oak staircase that led to a room with gigantic wood shelves over towering little me and feeling utterly lost, never knowing how to find a book I would like to read. I don’t recall going there very often, but I do recall my friends Sophia and Charlotte’s living room that had a huge bookshelf with just the books from Oetinger (the publisher who published my favourite books by Astrid Lindgren and Kirsten Boje). Their mother was an editor (the first one I ever met). I barely dared talking to her who was not only in possession of the finest books (in hardcover!), but had actually talked to the authors who had written them!

Btw: 20some years later I did get the courage to contact her. She is retired now and doesn’t live in the house with the big bookshelf anymore. Which is too bad, because otherwise she might have added “Yellow Dog” to her library which will be published in Germany with my very favourite childhood publisher in 2020.

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