A is for Atticus…. a new look at baby names

I still have the little diary where I jotted down possible baby names. If the baby was a boy he would be called Nathan or Grant; a girl would be called Jennifer or Leslie.

She ended up being Leslie Ann, named after the lovely lady who starred in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s version of Cinderella, even if I couldn’t get my husband to agree to the beautiful spelling that I preferred – Lesley Anne. Twenty-five years ago, if you found out you were pregnant (by which time you were about three months along and they referred to your ‘confinement’), you grabbed the keys, jumped in the car and ran to the bookstore, or library and grabbed up a baby name book or three. There you found possible names, their meaning, or origin, and the decision process began. Nowadays we can just go to the web and type in ‘baby names’. The process has changed but the choices are still a bit stale.

This very fun book, A is for Atticus, by Lorilee Craker, opens wide the world of choosing baby names. The author includes some of the more recent names chosen by Hollywood, some of the old standards that will never go out of style, and some that will have grandparents-to-be muttering under their breath. Hopefully when you’re not within earshot.

Names have changed, just about anything goes, and unisex names are popular. Naming a girl something generally chosen for boys is very popular too. What makes this book such a delight is that the author goes to her favorite reads, choosing authors or characters from books as possible name choices.

Naming our own children, we went with Sarah, Leslie and Daniel. Sarah and Daniel are still in the running in this book. Leslie didn’t make the cut (apparently the author didn’t make the Cinderella connection.) Of our four grandchildren, only one name made the cut – Addison. While Grey’s Anatomy has made it a popular choice these days, our daughter actually chose it after one of her favorite authors, Elisabeth Elliot.

Some of the names are for the truly brave at heart: Jemima, Cressida, Agnes (should anyone EVER be named Agnes?), or Balthazar, Obadiah, and Chester (my father’s name!). Author Lorilee Craker gives her honest opinion on a few choices:

Gertrude – “Times have changed and now saddling a baby with this Teutonic clunker would be ill-advised, unless you have a stellar reason, like naming her after a beloved family member, perhaps. (You might want to tattoo the words “named for Grandmother” on her forehead, too.) Sister names might include Krimhilda and Hermantrude.”

Buck – “There are country bumpkin names that can be flipped inside out and sound hip on a city slicker. Buck is not one of them. You may as well call the child Redneck if you’re going to call him Buck (Jim Bob, Waylon, and Orville also work in this regard). Buck is the main character – a dog, appropriately enough – in the Call of the Wild by Jack London. Pearl S. Buck was a wonderful human being, however, so you may want to wait until you have a girl and name her Pearl in honor of the author of The Good Earth. (I won’t tell the author I have an Uncle Orville….)

It was a delight to sit and read through the entire book, wondering what I would choose today, if we’d had one more child. I couldn’t really see any of my children with labels other than that we gave them. I finally settled on Regan, Blake or Beckett – I loved all of them, and any would fit well, regardless of whether the booties were blue or pink. If you’re in the ‘wait til baby arrives to find out sex’ club, these unisex names would work quite well.

Fun, fun book – this would make a great addition to a ‘congratulations on your upcoming tax deduction’ gift basket. No more Bambinos for us, thank the Lord, but if I’m ever dumb enough to get another four legged family member it’ll come in handy! Nobody names a new creation Don or Bev these days, not even if it has four legs and has to be housebroken, but Atticus? I love that! Or maybe Heathcliff (cool name for a mastiff), or Finnegan (for a funny little poodle)….

Bev shares whatever’s on her heart at Scratchin’ the Surface, when she doesn’t have her nose in a book, or isn’t on the phone with someone in her family.


  1. says

    My grandfather’s name was Dorsey. I’m really, really glad I was named after my grandmother! (Although if I’d been a boy, I would have been named after my father, Russell Harrison. I love both of those names and, if I don’t name a son after my dad, I’ll definitely try to incorporate at least one of his names.)

  2. Sherry says

    My Great Uncle Jim’s middle name is Atlas. One of my grandfathers was named Cheston, now my brother’s middle name. My other grandaddy was named Stenson Kever and my dad’s middle name was Kever. I’ve always thought that if I ever have a daughter I would like to name her Jessie Lallage after one of my grandmothers, the other was Willie Mae.

  3. says

    Gertrude is one of the nicknames I call my girls (why? I have NO idea?) and it always makes me laugh to think someone might hear and think that is seriously their name.

    Looks like a book I should check out for puppy names… no more babies here, either!

  4. says

    My husband and I adore the name Jemima but decided that since we live in the US where it has certain associations and stigma attached to it, we just couldn’t use it. If we lived in the UK, though, it would be my younger daughter’s name.

  5. says

    Hey Bev,
    Nice post!! This was interesting to me because I have always had a thing for names! I searched long and hard when naming my kid’s and would love to name my grandchildren LOL!
    I come from a line of OLD names and have never liked my name, Paulette, who names there kid Paulette? I have never met to many others in my life. I had an aunt named Agnes and we called her Aunt Aggie growing up. My moms name was Pauline. So I love the modern cute names.
    I enjoyed your post today.
    I just got back from the lake, I went out for 2 days and walked the woods and boated, the bass are huge and plentiful!

  6. says

    All these years, I knew knew you named Leslie after Lesley Ann Warren. I loved her in Cinderella!

    If we’d had a third child, that child was going to be Chloe. Period. Non-negotiable because I love that name. She would have loved it, too. Of course, HE might not have appreciated it much. LOL

    (As you know, we named our next dog Chloe.) :-)

  7. says

    My husband and I just couldn’t conform to the old faithful names…..Jennifer, Joseph, Mary, or Michael.

    Our kids have the odd names…..but I love them…and everywhere we’ve ever lived…they have been well known.

    Gavin (boy)
    Allyanne (girl)
    Gates (girl)

    I say……be original and go with your heart. A name is forever!

  8. says

    “To Kill A Mockingbird,” with Gregory Peck is one of my all-time favorite films and so named my dog Atticus. I actually got the idea from seeing an actor with his German Shepherd in an issue of People magazine who’d done the same thing.
    Thanks for the review.

  9. says

    Sounds like an interesting read. We named our son Vance – after my father and grandfather. People are always asking us how we made up that name! Vance is happy with his name because girls always tell him they like it. I wonder if it made “the cut”.

  10. says

    Thank you Jennifer for your warm and witty review of my book baby “A is for Atticus.” It’s gotten a couple of snarky reviews, and yours was a balm! By the way, “People” magazine is reviewing it or featuring it or something in their magazine which comes out next Friday.
    Happy puppy naming–

  11. says

    We named our son Atticus (he turns 8 next month). We were hoping that the name was our little secret and wouldn’t catch on too much, so sorry to see the name of this book. =)
    I love it when people ask him his name and he tells them. You can tell right away if people are literary or not and if they get the reference To Kill a Mockingbird, or they stare at him like that is such a weird name.
    Hopefully as he grows up he will strive for social justice, love his family and other characteristics of Gregory Peck’s character.

  12. Katherine says

    I had my son this past October & named him Atticus James. I had wanted to use that name since grade school when I first read To Kill a Mockingbird! My family wasnt for it at first but a month or so after my sons birth my Mother found this book online and now its in my nursery! I love how rare it is. But it is nice to know that I am not the only one who loves the name.

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