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Sunday, 29 April 2012

Favourite Children's Books - Life's a Journey.

Helen at http://saveeverystep.wordpress.com/lifes-a-journey-series/ urges us to share our memories from milestones in our life.   This week's theme   -Favourite Children's Books

I  am a librarian so books are food and drink to me - a habit which began early on.   It was a treat to get a book at Christmas and birthdays and choosing a new book to take on holiday was part of the anticipation of the trip.  I still have my first little white bookcase. given when I was 8 years old - although it is now confined to loft storage.

I can remember my first visit to the local children's library and the first book I borrowed - an illustrated history of England with a picture of the young Queen Elizabeth I on the front cover. Even then I loved history, especially a book series called A History of Everyday Life in England  which explored life down the centuries with lovely illustrations of costumes and houses.

As a child my favourite author  was one much despised then by pundits but loved by her readers - in other words Enid Blyton, especially The Famous Five, Secret Seven and Mallory Towers, also remembering as a younger child Noddy and Big Ears. Enid Blyton's books could be fought over in the  library, but we were less willing to raise our hands in class and admit we read her.  

I loved school stories and got very involved in the long running Chalet School series, by Elinor Brent Dyer, with its foreign setting, odd phrases in French and German, the exotic names of the characters (Elisveta, Evadne, Gisela) and the exploits of the lead character Joey Maynard and later on her large extended family.  Another favourite author was Noel Streatfield with her tales of ballet school and skating success.  

For lighter relief,  I had my favourite weekly magazines - "Girl", with Angela Air Hostess, Belle of the Ballet, Kay from "the Courier", Claudia of the Circus, the Picture Gallery which I cut up and put in a scrapbook, plus a series "Mother Tells You How" on domestic tips!! If you wonder how I remember all of this - my daughter gave me a a nostalgic book on "The Best of Girl" last Christmas.   It is very revealing on the  attitudes prevailing then.  

Classics featured in my reading, boosted by the BBC classic Sunday teatime serials on TV  - Little Women and its sequels, What Katy Did, Heidi, Sarah Crewe and The Secret Garden, Jane Eyre, and Children of the New Forest;  later on Charles Dickens  novels - Oliver Twist, Great Expectations, Nicholas Nickleby, Tale of Two Cities and David Copperfield and onto Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice,  and Emma.

In teenage years, I was slow to move onto adult popular fiction - Agatha Christie I think was my route, though I have never been into crime novels where there is a sudden great denouement in the final pages;  also Georgette Heyer's Regency romances, the novels of Daphne Du Maurier and  Catherine Cookson.
My tastes haven't changed much over the years - family sagas and historical novels by authors, Anya Seton (e.g. "The Winthrop Woman" set in early New England), Cynthia Harrod Eagles'  "The Morland Dynasty" which relates the story of a Yorkshire family from the times of Richard III down the centuries, Catherine Gavin (my favourite "The Snow Mountain" about the last days of the Russian Czar and his family ), Philippa Carr's royal series and an American author I have just discovered Liz Curtis Higgs, who has set her latest novel in the Scottish Borders. 

I love curling up in bed or on the sofa, or  or soaking in bath bubbles with a good book and can't see that an electronic book has nearly the same appeal.  However I have moved on this a wee bit, and am quite taken with the latest Amazon TV advert for a Kindle.

Now my pleasure from books also comes from seeing the delight my little granddaughter gets from her collection - Touch and Feel books were a new phenomena to me, and now she is onto the "Aliens Love Underpants" series - very wacky and great fun!   It is never to young to start loving books!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Susan, an interesting post. I hope you're settled into your new home with your books around you like familiar friends! Where would be without books? I have always loved them too. My daughter was obsessed with the Chalet School series and when in the UK when she was 11 our job was to find as many as possible -then we had to carry them of course ;-) A suggestion for your granddaughter: any of the Hairy Maclary series by Lynley Dodd. They are excellently written, alliterative with great rhythms. She's a New Zealand author but I did see some of the books for sale in that tourist information "shop" in Edinburgh near the train station in Princes St so they'll be around in a bookshop near you (I think one of the big bookshops in Princes St had them too from memory). We were surprised to see them there so far from home. Re the Kindle: I bought one but have to say I think that a small tablet would be better. Don't know why but I just don't use the Kindle I got at all unless we're travelling and have to share...just my experience FYI.


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