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::20.1.05:: Childhood Books

I was thinking today about the books I read as child. I was the typical bookworm as a kid, always reading. The two things I never had enough of were books and notepads. I make up for that now.

There were certain books that I always went back to - reading and rereading them. They were comforting and reassuring. Funny how kids seem to cling to the cheesy and sentimental but then I guess it's a way of making sense of the world. You like to think that world is fair and the good guys get rewarded even though in real life your Nan calls you stupid and clumsy for spilling your cordial while your cousin who is blonde and petite gets told that it doesn't matter; you don't win the prize at the school assembly even though you are best in the class and, when your sister sneaks in and eats all the chocolate eggs hidden in the wardrobe, she still gets the same as you at Easter. Reading is an escape from all that.

So anyway, here is a list of the favourites:

The Chronicles of Narnia: Who didn't love these books? Who didn't want to go to a big house with a magic wardrobe? The thought of them reminds me of curling up in the cool, untamed grass in the backyard on summer hols and doing nothing but reading all day.

All the Enid Blyton books: Well, most of them. The Folk of the Faraway Tree and the Naughtiest Girl books and the Mallory towers ones. I wasn't so keen on Noddy though. Oh, and of course, the Secret Seven. Did you have a secret club as a kid? With a password and badges? I did. And I wanted to go to boarding school and have midnight feasts and then go home for holidays of bike riding and adventure. Most of all, I wanted a wishing chair.

The Little Princess: I absolutely adored this book. I liked the Secret Garden too but The Little Princess was the absolute best. I love any books were the protagonist suffered but then a mistake was discovered, elevating her to her rightful position. But then I spent most of my childhood thinking I was secretly a princess or something and one day my true family would find me.

Ok, there was this other book that I forget the name of - it was about these three sisters who were orphaned and taken home by an old man who was an archeologist. I thought it was called the Three Fossils but I was telling a friend about it once and she had read it as a kid and thought it was called something about ballet shoes (they all learn ballet in the book). I think I read it about a zillion times. I think the thing I loved most about this book was that they wanted to become famous for something and, at the end of the book, although one wants to be a ballerina and the other wants to an actress, they decide that the youngest sister is the one that will get their name in the history books because she wants to become a pilot. That was much less naff than your typical girlie ballet book.

Update: The book is called Ballet Shoes. There is another kind of sequel called Theatre Shoes - why did no one tell me that as a child? Oh and Party Shoes and Tennis Shoes and Dancing Shoes and New Shoes. Oh, my.

The Anne of Green Gables books: Ok, I'll confess. I still have them and still read them sometimes. I was a complete sucker for these books. My favourite was Anne of the Island because it was all romantic and stuff. It is interesting to read them now because, as well as realising that L.M. Montgomery wasn't a good writer (but then well loved children's writers tend not to be) but that she had these two different styles of writing within her books - the fey, romantic world of Anne and the people around her, then the very earthy styles when she deals with the "common" folk. You can tell that parts of the books are taken from the life around her, stories and rumours of small towns, and other parts are the story she thinks she should be telling. This is particularly odd when she's writing about some child escaping into some magical world of their imagination then, a few paragraphs later, talks about the town drunk who beats his family half to death. Maybe you don't notice it so much as a child because that's what life is like.

Another book, well series of books, that I forget the name of were about this girl, who I am pretty sure was called Susan. She solved mysteries and stuff. In all the books she stayed with her cousins and I think she was wild and Scottish while they were sensible and British. The youngest cousin, who helped her solve stuff, was called Peregrine or something weird like that. If you know the books I mean, let me know.

I want to go to the library now and get a heap of books out of the kid's section.



I love Anne of Green Gables as well. Can't remember which volume it was, but the one where Anne and Gilbert lose their first baby, OMG, I just bawl and bawl when I read that, even now. The last book about Rilla was also really good - hardly a kids' book when it deals with so much sadness and death, and yet it still works for me.

I bought a new set of Narnia books for Jr, and figured I should have another read just to make sure they're still ok. They're gorgeous. Hope Jr likes them!



Oh yes, The Narnia Chronicles my father read out the whole lot to me, a chapter per night and then read to me the whole Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy Series when I was six years old. I still have the books with the date of 1982 written inside them with a little doodle of a cat showing its bottom that he would always draw.

The Phantom Tollbooth was another early book...



If they're the same Susan books I'm thinking of, they were written by Jean Shaw. She was Scottish and went to live with her cousins the Carmichaels - Midge, Charlotte & Bill - when her father/mother went to live in Kenya (or somewhere remote & colonial). From memory there was no cousin called Peregrine, so they may not be the same ones you're thinking of.

I had "Susan Pulls the Strings" - the first one in the series - which I must have read at least 100 times as an 11-12 year old.

Here's a link to some Susan stuff:



i loved Anne of Green Gables when i younger. i was even happier when i realized it was on tv! i must confess though i haven't read all the books. should do that sometime.

my all time favorite was Charolettes Web [i think it's the spelling?] and marks parents were telling me they are filming it at the moment up Melton way!! yah!

B @ beeep.net


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