First read: 1972 (best guess)
Owned since: 2000 (this copy)
Mom read Stuart Little to Kathy and me when we had chicken pox. We were six or seven years old, and she read us Charlotte's Web first and then this book, which she said she liked better.
Stuart Little is a mouse born to a human family in New York City. His family adapts very well to his presence, and Stuart is resourceful enough to figure out how to operate in a human-sized world. Kathy and I were fascinated by the descriptions of how Stuart turned on faucets and brushed his teeth and slept in a bed made of clothespins.
It was not until much later that I realized that Stuart Little is one of the great doomed love stories of all time. Stuart falls in love with Margalo, a wall-eyed vireo (or possibly a wren) the Little family rescues. A neighbor's cat plans to attack Margalo, and it's springtime anyway, so she flies away -- and Stuart runs away from home to find her.
"North" is the best advice he can get for where she might be, so he heads north, and has some adventures along the way. The book ends with him continuing his journey, and beginning to realize that finding Margalo might not be as important as the search itself. Stuart meets a telephone repairman who talks about the virtue of heading north, in general:
"There's something about north," he said, "something that sets it apart from all other directions. A person who is heading north is not making any mistake, in my opinion."
"That's the way I look at it," said Stuart. "I rather expect that from now on I shall be traveling north to the end of my days."
Happy Valentine's Day to all, from the frozen north.