Tuesday, August 26, 2014

What's your favorite children's book?

I recently came across a short piece (InStyle September 2014) that queried celebrities about their favorite childhood books.  I remember four, in particular, that I loved.

Bedknobs and Broomsticks
The Little Princess
Robinson Crusoe
My  Side of the Mountain

In "Bedknobs and Broomsticks", kids used their magic bedknob to fly their bed through the night to distant lands.  I also wanted to fly, magically and safely, of course, to distant lands.  I was bitterly conscious of my lack of bed knobs.  Why oh why was I stuck with a dumb bunk bed with no removable bedknobs instead of an antique brass bed?  For awhile I concentrated nightly on an old glass door knob I found.  I thought if I believed enough, it might take me places.  A knob is a knob, after all.

The "Little Princess" was the perfect prepubescent comeback novel.   She's on top, then she's living.in an attic room, slaving away, and then, because of her noble character, she's back on top again. Later on in life, I liked Flowers in the Attic, so maybe I just have a thing about being shut away in an attic.

"Robinson Crusoe" played into all of my adolescent fantasies; being shipwrecked on an island, eventually making friends with an Indian, and living off the land and off the grid.  I still fantasize about living on an island but less in the style of Robinson Crusoe and more in the style of Richard Branson.

In  "My Side of the Mountain", a young man lives in a tree trunk all by himself in the wilderness.  I can't remember why he was living there.  He had to be brave and learn how to keep himself fed through the long, lonely winter. I admired him and was a little envious of his solitude.  I must have been sharing a room with my little sister when I read that book.

Putting on my amateur psychologist hat, I would say that, at least as a kid, I  had a thirst for adventure and solitude.  These days, I prefer being caught up on my laundry and a nice nature walk to anything adventurous, but I do still crave solitude every now and then.  When that happens,  I go sit in the attic.

I'm just kidding.  I don't do that.  There are spiders up there.

What books did you love?

Chicken out


8 comments:

  1. Heidi was fascinating to me, perhaps it was her perseverance that I related to. Hope you have a great day.

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    1. Hi Linda-thanks-I hope you do, too. I am not sure I read Heidi although I do remember having a copy of it. I just read the Wikipedia excerpt-it sounds like I missed out on a good one!

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  2. The Little Princess - yes! one of my favourites, too. I loved the part where she gave away all but one warm, freshly baked roll to the girl who was worse off than her, then came home to a transformed attic ... and I loved the Anne of Green Gables books, and Little Women. Your comments about the bedknob cracked me up!

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    1. Hi Jenny-I liked that part, too. I had forgotten it. I did not read the Anne of GG books, but I read the Little Women ones. Or maybe I just watched Little House on the Prairie? I forget. I was mostly drawn to books about boys because I really really wanted to be a boy.

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  3. I spent a lot of time in the wilderness as a child, and I love My Side of the Mountain. My friend Jack claims to be able to tell within hours of meeting someone whether they read that book as a child.

    -Doug in Oakland

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    1. Hi Doug-really? How does he know? What was your favorite part? I read it so long ago I've forgotten most of it but I remember the winter and the tree and how cozy it was. There was the part where there was a huge storm and it covered up his whole door and he had to dig himself out. Do you remember that part? I can see how white and beautiful the forest must have been and how sweet that little home he made seemed.

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    2. Jack said that the main theme of the book was absolute self-reliance, and that he could tell when someone had positive associations with the idea instead of the more common senses of terror and anxiety. I never demanded evidence from him, mostly because I liked the book so much.
      My favorite part was how he had to learn to live as just another critter in the woods, something I could relate to the difficulty of personally. And the falcon, I liked the falcon a lot.

      -Doug in Oakland

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    3. Interesting and true. That's the feeling I recall, anyways. I only vaguely remember the falcon, though. It hunted for him? Was that it? It might be time to read it again. I couldn't wait to read it with my oldest son but it didn't grab him and we never finished it. Maybe the younger one will appreciate it.

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