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Our member who was to contribute a guest diary today is experiencing some challenges in real life, so the diary has been deferred to some time in the future. For today, we’ll have an open forum, but not before our usual plea for guest diarists.

We have January 24th open!  And all four Fridays in February!  Please step up and volunteer. We’ve had some wonderful guest diarists lately whose contributions have stimulated some really good discussions.  Let’s keep it going!

For breakfast this morning we’re offering Fortnum & Mason’s Royal Blend Tea (a delightful mixture of Ceylon and Assam) with milk and sugar, green tea with honey and lemon, and chai latté, whatever that is. We also have toasted crumpets dripping with melted butter and honey—not at all low-calorie, but who cares? It’s winter.  You’ll work it off just shivering from the bus stop to your office.

And now…which book did you love most as a child?  Do you still reread it sometimes in secret? Or do you read it to your children or grandchildren? We all have favorite books we’ve never forgotten, even after we grew up to experience all the ups and downs of life as adults. Let’s take our breakfast trays into the salon while we chat.

Would you believe there are three books that have stayed with me?  The first is In the Morning of the World, by Janette Sebring Lowrey, first published in 1944. After recounting how she and her siblings wore out a book of the Greek myths when they were children, Lowrey goes on to retell several of the Greek myths in a form that children can understand.

Here is an excerpt from “For the Fairest”:

Now and then there comes a day when the sun is so bright, the air so clear and cool, the sky so blue, the clouds so buoyant, the birds so busy, the flowers so fragrant, the leaves so green, and the shadows so sweet, that to breathe is happiness, and without being able to explain it, we feel exceedingly gay and kind.  It must have been in the dawn of a day like that, sometime in the earliest ages of the world, that the foam of the ocean gathered itself together, rose from the waves in a fountain of water and light, and suddenly became a beautiful goddess.
The goddess was Aphrodite, whose name means foamborn. As a child in Singapore I possessed a copy of In the Morning of the World, printed on thick, glossy paper with beautiful colored illustrations. I don’t know whether it was the paper or the ink on the pages, but there was a distinctive aroma, a smell that seemed to waft me from the Singapore of the 1950s to a mysterious, misty, long-ago Mount Olympus on which the gods and goddesses resided. I loved that book and kept it for many years. A couple of years ago I ordered another copy. It’s an elderly book, showing distinct signs of wear—very like its present owner.

The second book I loved was called The House with the Twisting Passage, by Marion St. John Webb. It’s a previously owned book, the tattered jacket of which proclaims that it cost two shillings and sixpence and was printed in Great Britain. It doesn’t give the year but on the fly page is inscribed in blue ink:  “To Jean Xmas 1955 from Mummy and Daddy.”

The House with the Twisting Passage tells the story of Jenny, a nine-year-old girl whose parents have gone to India for two years. Her Aunt Abby and Uncle Nicol share the custody with Aunt Emma, who lives in Putney.

Aunt Abby was minding a beautiful old manor house in Surrey, “a long, low, many-windowed house, surrounded by gardens and orchards and little rustling woods.”

On wet days Jenny was allowed to play in the queer, twisting passage on the second floor that ran the length of the house. Jenny loved to play in this passage; it was not very light, but it was airy, and full of funny little twists and curves.  The closed doors along the sides of the passage made it all the more interesting.  Jenny used to pretend that different people lived in the rooms behind these doors, and soon had a name for every door she passed.
Jenny imagines all sorts of people living in the rooms behind the doors in the passage and makes up life stories for them.

In time Jenny is required to visit her Aunt Emma in Putney, a visit she dreads because Aunt Emma’s poky little house is filled with occasional tables on which repose innumerable china objects. To make matters worse, Aunt Emma is always bumping into the tables and knocking the objects off. She never stops talking—even until Jenny falls asleep at night—so it is with considerable relief that Jenny, under the escort of one of Aunt Abby’s friends, returns to Surrey.

But this time as the carriage rounds the bend and the house comes into view, the windows on every floor are all lit up, as if to welcome Jenny home. The next day Jenny discovers that every one of the people she imagined has come to life. She visits them all and each tells her a fascinating story.

I adored this book as a child. It stayed with me because I identified strongly with Jenny: like her, I had an imagination that received rigorous workouts. I kept the book for many years but one day, after I was grown up, I gave it away to a little girl I heard about. She came from a dysfunctional family, so the social workers at the agency I worked for were trying to help her to have a better life. “And in spite of all that,” one of them said, “this child likes to read!”  I hoped the little girl would love the book as much as I had, and who knows? She may have been so inspired by this glimpse of a world radically different from the provincial, dull-as-dirty-creek water Tulsa of the mid-1960s that she achieved a new life for herself when she grew up.

The third book was The Ship That Flew, by Hilda Lewis. Unlike the previous two, this book is a nice new paperback.  The foreword in front of the book is by the author’s son.

In the summer of 1937, when the clouds of war were already gathering over Europe, I went with my parents on holiday to Normandy. I was then seven years old, and had taken nothing with me to read. My mother, Hilda Lewis, already an established novelist, had never written a book for children, and she started to write this story of a magic ship which carried a family of four children through time and space to whatever destination they chose.

The book eventually became The Ship That Flew, and was published by Oxford University Press in 1939.  It was frequently reprinted, and it has been translated into several languages.  It has however been out of print for some years.

I am very pleased that Oxford University Press have decided to republish this book some 55 years after it originally appeared. My grandchildren Eve and Edmund are now much the same age as I was when the book was written. I hope that it will give as much pleasure to them and to children of their age as it gave me all those years ago. Humphrey Lewis, 1993.

I also am very pleased that this book was republished because it’s enchanting. It tells the story of Peter, Sheila, Humphrey, and Sandy, ordinary children living in a little seaside town in England. One day Peter visits the dentist and afterwards wanders through the village, finding a street that he had never noticed before.

In the window of a tiny dark shop he spies a little ship, a thing of such beauty that he desperately wants to own it. An old man inside the shop asks if he can help Peter.

“You like that little ship? They don’t make ships like that nowadays,” he said a little sadly.

“Is it very old?” Peter asked, hoping that it wasn’t, because very old things, he knew, often cost a great deal of money.

The old man nodded. “Older than anyone would believe,” he said softly, stroking the tiny ship with gentle hands.

“How much is it?” Peter asked, his heart beating very fast.

Then the old man said a strange thing. “It would cost all the money you have in the world—and a bit over.”

It was only when Peter stood outside blinking in the sunshine after the darkness of the shop that he remembered that he had spent his tea money, which didn’t matter much, and the twopence belonging to his father, which mattered rather more, and his fare money, which mattered a good deal.

The four children visit ancient Egypt, ancient Asgard, and Norman England. Bits and pieces from that book have stayed with me all my life: the fact that Peter had to pay all the money he had in the world “and a bit over”; how, in A.D. 1073 a Saxon woman told him that he had a “look of the high-nosed Normans, yet you speak good Saxon”; and how, in Asgard, Peter agreed to give back the magic ship when he was grown up and no longer believed in magic.

Imagination is a wonderful thing, and books that help it grow and soar are treasures. So now that I’ve told you about my treasures, will you tell us about yours?  What amazed and delighted you as a child, what has stayed with you through the years?

The floor is yours—fire away!

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Comment Preferences

  •  Well, I loved so many that it (17+ / 0-)

    is hard to pick a favorite! There was a series of holiday adventure stories that I loved by Arthur Ransome. The children were in two groups, the Swallows and the Amazons. Have a feeling that I was the only child who read them. Have never met an adult who has! But I loved them and wanted a sailboat so I could go off and join them.

    •  Top notch reading. (7+ / 0-)

      My mom had read them as a kid and ordered them for me through William and George's bookstore of Bristol. Sadly enough, by the time I got here, it was out of business.

      "The 'Middle' is a crowded place - that is where the effective power is - the extreme right and left might annoy governments, but the middle terrifies them." Johnny Linehan

      by northsylvania on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 06:51:19 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Wonderful series! (5+ / 0-)

      Unfortunately, missed out as a child; didn't discover them until I was looking for interesting books for my daughter.  We ended up with most of the series (all still in print as trade pb - very expensive, but I got most of them through 2nd hand sources including library book "stores").

      Would have loved to have such an adventurous childhood - most idyllic.  Three were made into tv movies in Britain: Swallows and Amazons, Coot Club, and the Big Six.  Delightful to read and to watch if you can find them.  I have all three on VHS.

  •  Probably a tie. (16+ / 0-)

    The Jungle Books and 101 Dalmations. Early teens I'd go with The call of the Wild and White Fang.  Read all of these multiple times.

  •  Hi, Portlaw! Arthur Ransome...did he also (10+ / 0-)

    write fairy stories? Or have I got him mixed up with someone else?

    Haven't heard of the Swallows and Amazons series, but it sounds like a good read.

    There were some series books I liked too--all of Richmal Crompton's "William" books, which I found hilarious (and which, incidentally, greatly improved my vocabulary), and Enid Blyton's "Adventure" series, starring four children and a talkative parrot.  Blyton also wrote boarding school stories--the St. Clare and Malory Towers series.

    With no TV and few distractions during a large part of my childhood, I did enjoy the world of reading.

    "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

    by Diana in NoVa on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 05:37:09 AM PST

  •  Apples Every Day. (9+ / 0-)

    this one with the light blue cover, which I still have (the cover itself), although I relinquished my copy to my daughter when she was a young teen and she hid it away and liked it although probably not as deeply as I did.
    These are people's comments from Amazon but it covers it.

    Most of all I used to retreat to my room and daydream about being allowed to declare I was "not emotionally ready" for English class that day...and it turned me on to Shakespeare. To this day I still look at mashed potatoes on a plate and think "...oh that this too, too, solid flesh would melt," to quote the kid doing a rotten job with Hamlet.

    This book has great characters and winds up as a 'let's put on a play without the teachers' help' and when that fails, English teacher to the rescue and it's all terrific in the end.

    So glad to have a chance to talk this one up.

    We are all pupils in the eyes of God.

    by nuclear winter solstice on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 05:37:17 AM PST

    •  Nuclear, I'm going to check those comments later (7+ / 0-)

      Your experience about retreating to your room to daydream and then getting hooked on Shakespeare is enchanting!  It reminds me strongly of the experience of the protagonist of Mary Stolz' book, Pray Love, Remember. Dody Jenks did the same thing. It's a charming book, but out of fashion now. Teenagers have changed a great deal since the 1950s.

      Apples Every Day sounds like a good book to buy and keep for my granddaughter when she's old enough to read it. Thanks for the mention!

      "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

      by Diana in NoVa on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 06:20:46 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  it was my 'safe' place. (6+ / 0-)

        Have teens (and other people) really changed? hard to say. I think music is still music no matter how it changes, even though every generation is deliberately different. And I prefer to think that human nature remains the same, with or without lightning fast technology.
             That's why this book felt so good. Sheila is just slightly sullen, withdrawn, and unhappy. What else is new and what's not to relate to here, if you're 13-15. This is pretty much an ugly-duckling tale from the duckling's p.o.v. but it outlasts other tales because she is not a whiner, she is likeable and real.

        We are all pupils in the eyes of God.

        by nuclear winter solstice on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 06:49:04 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  I read and reread (14+ / 0-)

    many times over every fairytale and every Greek and Roman myth.  My mom would bring them home to me from the library and it was a joyous day when it was library day.

    Everyone! Arms akimbo! 68351

    by tobendaro on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 05:43:13 AM PST

  •  No contest.... (15+ / 0-)

    Make Way For Ducklings.

    It was the first book I read by myself, I read it to my children and grandchildren, and now my great granddaughter is hearing it.

    I still love it and love to read it to children. It is charming, peaceful, and the ducks have a loving family. What's not to love?

    As a teenager, the book was To Kill A Mockingbird. Changed my life; made me aware of the rest of the world outside my safe cocoon. After reading it, I was a different person

    "May the forces of evil become confused on the way to your house." - George Carlin

    by Most Awesome Nana on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 05:48:08 AM PST

  •  Ferdinand the Bull (20+ / 0-)

    they just shoulda let him smell the damn flowers.

    In Kindergarden I used to hide the book in the loft so only I would get to read it during Quiet Reading Time.

    Dawkins is to atheism as Rand is to personal responsibility

    by terrypinder on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 05:48:55 AM PST

  •  So many years ago (13+ / 0-)

    I loved the book Reggie and the Fairy Princess ( I believe that is the correct title). The illustrations were exquisite and it is impossible to find a copy anywhere.

    It is a truism that almost any sect, cult, or religion will legislate its creed into law if it acquires the political power to do so. -Robert A. Heinlein, science-fiction author (1907-1988)

    by supenau on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 05:49:49 AM PST

  •  Thanks for reminding me of all the joys of reading (13+ / 0-)

    as a child.  I thrived on Norton Juster's The Phantom Tollbooth and Eleanor Cameron's The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet.

    I've given copies to my own kids and others many times over the years remembering the great fun I had discovering them.

    I think the Tollbooth is still pretty sturdy today for young readers.  It's a pretty timeless phantasy about a lonely kid who discovers the wonder of words, numbers and ideas by way of an incredible journey.

    •  Nickie Haflinger, that sounds like a wonderful (7+ / 0-)

      book!  Thanks for the mention. I'm going to look for The Phantom Tollbooth because any book that fosters a love of reading is valuable indeed.

      Gotta confess at this point that from time to time I still read kids' books. Why not? A good story is a good story.

      And kids' books are great for research!  In the throes of writing my Hadrian's Wall novel, I used to go to the children's section of the library and emerge with an armload of books on that subject. They got straight to the point and had lots of pictures. One day I met another woman obviously doing the same thing--we gave each other a knowing glance as we passed in the hallway.

      "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

      by Diana in NoVa on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 06:31:25 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I was a voracious reader as a child. (16+ / 0-)

    and I was an early learner.  I can remember my mother showing me off to neighbors as I'd read "The Five Chinese Brothers" before entering first grade.  In second grade (why do I remember that?) the book I remember was "The Art of Chinese Paper Folding", a very cool book of origami that I could handle.  Along the way (1st grade?), I enjoyed "Henry Huggins" by Beverly Cleary.

    But I guess the reading experience that stands out for me was reading "A Wrinkle in Time" by Madeleine L'Engle.  It was probably the first book that showed me a more complex plot and sparked my interest in science fiction.  A very cool book for kids.

    You can't spell CRAZY without R-AZ.

    by rb608 on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 06:00:30 AM PST

  •  There are so many, but the first one I (13+ / 0-)

    remember reading over and over is that wonderful children's picture book Harold and His Purple Crayon, by Crockett Johnson. I still love that book.

    Another book I loved - and have re-read as an adult - is Harriet the Spy, by Louise Fitzhugh. Tomato sandwiches  - yum.

    Out with the gloomage - in with the plumage!

    by mikidee on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 06:20:40 AM PST

    •  mikidee, both of those sound good! (7+ / 0-)

      Will look for a copy of Harriet the Spy. I like to collect books about adventurous girls for my granddaughter. A lot of books feature boys, so I want Miss Pink Cheeks to know that girls can also engage in daring adventures.

      Tomato sandwiches--yum! Every August I look forward to tomato sandwiches made with home-grown tomatoes.

      "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

      by Diana in NoVa on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 06:36:42 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I loved Harriet the spy (3+ / 0-)

      And I haven't thought about Harold and his purple crayon in decades, but I had a copy and I loved it.

      Pippi longstocking was a favorite.

      The great brain series was perhaps my all time favorite for a a few years before I got into sci-fi and fantasy...

      My parents have a picture of me on Xmas morning, third grade with my nose buried in a hardy boys book.  At the time I was also reading nancy drew, Treasure island, Tarzan...

      Earlier I remember enjoying the curious George books

      Deserves it! I daresay he does. Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement. For even the very wise cannot see all ends. - Gandalf the Grey

      by No Exit on Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 06:53:30 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I remember it as if it were yesterday .... (11+ / 0-)

    I grew up in a household that valued books, but had none; the library was our forests, our streams, and our fields. The first book I so loved that I wanted to own was Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson (which is available free through Project Gutenberg).

    So begins the tale:

    SQUIRE TRELAWNEY, Dr. Livesey, and the rest of these gentlemen having asked me to write down the whole particulars about Treasure Island, from the beginning to the end, keeping nothing back but the bearings of the island, and that only because there is still treasure not yet lifted, I take up my pen in the year of grace 17__ and go back to the time when my father kept the Admiral Benbow inn and the brown old seaman with the sabre cut first took up his lodging under our roof.

    I remember him as if it were yesterday ....

    How could a kid dreaming of adventure, danger, and--of course--treasure, not be seduced by this wonderful tale of a kid having all of the above and more. I read it four or five times, and I know now that I must have presented as an insufferable bore as I forced my siblings to listen to a particularly gripping passage.

    I still have the copy, yellowed pages and faded cover, that one of my sisters gave me after it was clear that the very mean librarians were not happy about my attempts to monopolize the library's copy I considered my own.

    A coming-of-age story, Jim Hawkins' life of adventure takes a dramatic turn as he crawls into an almost-empty apple barrel for an apple and, inadvertently secreted there, overhears Silver talking with several crew members about a mutiny upon the Hispaniola. Even the memory sends shivers up my spine.  

    "Fifteen men on the dead man's chest—
                 Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum!"
  •  The Albert Payson Terhune books. (7+ / 0-)

    The Man. The Dogs.

    "Youth Will Be Served" was one about Bruce, Lad's son, beating him in competition. It was the first time that I realized that beings age to the point that the young will take over.

    I learned kindness from these books, and they nurtured my already growing love of dogs.

    Only thing more infuriating than an ignorant man is one who tries to make others ignorant for his own gain. Crashing Vor

    by emmasnacker on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 06:22:28 AM PST

  •  Grolier's Book of Knowledge, a set of children's (13+ / 0-)

    encyclopedias that my father brought home to our farm early in the summer of 1948. We had no electricity. We used kerosene for lighting and for cooking. I read those books from cover-to-cover by the time school started. I still remember much of what I read. I can still see the sketch and explanation of the brain. The encyclopedias were accompanied by a large Hammond's Atlas, which included a very "scientific" discussion of the "three races of man." In addition there was a long chapter about WWII, with a powerful picture of a crying baby, sitting alone on the platform of a shattered railroad station in Nanking. I still remember the picture very clearly.

    My parents were great readers and they kept us supplied with books and magazines. Every day, when I would go to the mailbox, I hoped to see another new magazine and my hope was fulfilled more often than not. A family friend gave us a family Christmas gift each year. He was a distributor for magazines and he would come to our house with all kinds of brochures describing a world of wonder. We kids would get to choose some magazines and our parents would do the rest. We got them all. The mailbox was our window on the world.

    My father insisted that I read. If I showed too much interest in something he was working on, like repairing the tractor, or hitching up the plow horse to break the garden, he would tell me to go to the house and read.

    My mother took us weekly to the library in the next county, there was none in our county. At one point she told the librarians that I could be allowed entry to the adult section even though I was underage. The adult section was not pornographic, but it was filled with reference books and other books that were felt to be too difficult for children. It was as good as the small library at the local junior college that I attended years later.

    Finally, in 1952, we got electricity! What a day. We could read at night!

    I have never stopped reading.

    Might and Right are always fighting, in our youth it seems exciting. Right is always nearly winning, Might can hardly keep from grinning. -- Clarence Day

    by hestal on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 06:31:23 AM PST

  •  hestal, what a great story about your childhood! (7+ / 0-)

    From this:

    In addition there was a long chapter about WWII, with a powerful picture of a crying baby, sitting alone on the platform of a shattered railroad station in Nanking. I still remember the picture very clearly.
    We westerners just don't realize how awful it was for the people in China when the horrors happened in Nanking. I didn't properly appreciate it until I saw a film, the name of which escapes me for a moment, but it starred Jonathan Rhys-something.

    To this:

    My father insisted that I read. If I showed too much interest in something he was working on, like repairing the tractor, or hitching up the plow horse to break the garden, he would tell me to go to the house and read.
    You were fortunate to have such a father. Many fathers would have taken the opposite view.  I'm glad yours didn't.

    Thanks for commenting!

    "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

    by Diana in NoVa on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 06:47:38 AM PST

  •  The first book I loved (7+ / 0-)

    was Hitty, Her First Hundred Years by Rachel Field. My mom's copy was old and torn up, looking remarkably like the one pictured here. I loved the story, the illustrations, and the idea of a doll travelling and observing a variety of locations, and the people who lived there.  

    "The 'Middle' is a crowded place - that is where the effective power is - the extreme right and left might annoy governments, but the middle terrifies them." Johnny Linehan

    by northsylvania on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 06:58:11 AM PST

    •  An old doll would have seen many interesting (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Limelite, RiveroftheWest

      changes, northsylvania!  Hadn't heard of this one before, thanks for telling us about it.

      In The House with the Twisting Passage Jenny finds an old doll and takes care of it. The doll has an interesting backstory that's one of the best parts of the book.

      They must have made sturdier dolls in the old days--I think mine were all "loved" to death!

      "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

      by Diana in NoVa on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 07:11:15 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  It's very good for girls. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        P Carey, Limelite, RiveroftheWest

        I was almost sorry I had a son because he was a dudely dude from the get go. Fortunately, he did like Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats.

        "The 'Middle' is a crowded place - that is where the effective power is - the extreme right and left might annoy governments, but the middle terrifies them." Johnny Linehan

        by northsylvania on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 07:30:36 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Today, it is Wild Animals I Have Known (8+ / 0-)

    by Ernest Thompson Seton.  I devoured the tale of the king wolf Lobo, and the clever hare Ragggylug.  But my favorite story concerned the wild Black Stallion that the protagonist tried to capture and domesticate.

    The stallion would have none of it:

    Now all there was to do was to take him home. The ropes were loosed, the Mustang felt himself freed, thought he was free, and sprang to his feet only to fall as soon as he tried to take a stride. His forefeet were strongly tied together, his only possible gait a shuffling walk, or else a desperate labored bounding with feet so unnaturally held that within a few yards he was inevitably thrown each time he tired to break away. Tom on the light pony headed him off again and again, and by dint of driving, threatening, and maneuvering, contrived to force his foaming, crazy captive northward toward the Pinavetitos Canyon. But the wild horse would not drive, would not give in. With snorts of terror or of rage and maddest bounds, he tried and tried to get away. It was one long cruel fight; his glossy sides were thick with dark foam, and the foam was stained with blood. Countless hard falls and exhaustion that a long day's chase was powerless to produce were telling on him; his straining bounds first this way and then that, were not now quite so strong, and the spray he snorted as he gasped was half a spray of blood. But his captor, relentless, masterful and cool, still forced him on. Down the slope toward the canyon they had come, every yard a fight, and now they were at the head of the draw that took the trail down to the only crossing of the canon, the northmost limit of the Pacer's ancient range.

    From this the first corral and ranch-house were in sight. The man rejoiced, but the Mustang gathered his remaining strength for one more desperate dash. Up, up the grassy slope from the trail he went, defied the swinging, slashing rope and the gunshot fired in air, in vain attempt to turn his frenzied course. Up, up and on, above the sheerest cliff he dashed then sprang away into the vacant air, down—down—two hundred downward feet to fall, and land upon the rocks below, a lifeless wreck—but free.

    Ancora Impara--Michelangelo

    by aravir on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 07:01:13 AM PST

  •  The Oz books - my sister and I read 'em to pieces (11+ / 0-)

    Unfortunately we were very thoughtless and destructive children, and though we loved to read, our books generally did not survive our repeated rough handling. This was when they were still easily obtainable second-hand, so it was a LONG time ago.

    Another book I loved, that I have learned to my dismay can not be easily or cheaply replaced, was The Daughters of the Stars, by one Mary Crary, with illustrations by Edmund Dulac. It was published only once or twice in limited runs, before World War II, and I have no idea where or how my parents got it. It's now a major collector's item and goes for insane prices.

    If it's
    Not your body,
    Then it's
    Not your choice
    And it's
    None of your damn business!

    by TheOtherMaven on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 07:18:00 AM PST

    •  Insane prices? Yikes, TheOtherMaven! (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      koosah, Limelite, RiveroftheWest

      What was The Daughters of the Stars about?  It sounds intriguing.

      "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

      by Diana in NoVa on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 07:25:45 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Mostly a young girl's fantasy adventure (3+ / 0-)

        with some adult in-jokes thrown in here and there. Ms. Crary made a very big point of the girl's mother (one of said Daughters of the Stars) being alive, well, and very much a part of the action.

        We read it to pieces a long time ago, so I have trouble remembering much about it. There was some reason Perdita and her mother Astrella had to get from point A to point B while making numerous stops in between. At one point Perdita meets a boy about her own age, they hit it off, compare notes on their schooling (including French lessons that, to my surprise, were much the same when I got around to taking them), travel together for a while, then go their separate ways with invitations (on both sides) to come and visit now and then. It just sort of starts, rambles around, and just sort of stops. But I recall it being very entertaining.

        Most of what little info survives about it concerns the Edmund Dulac illustrations, which are lovely - but do they justify three-figure offering prices for the book?

        If it's
        Not your body,
        Then it's
        Not your choice
        And it's
        None of your damn business!

        by TheOtherMaven on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 10:20:59 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Oh, I actually found a modern review of it (3+ / 0-)

        here: http://ellenbooraem.blogspot.com/...

        Matches what I remember pretty well.

        The book can be found for non-insane prices if you're willing to accept some wear, absence of dust jacket, and other compromises that Collectors wouldn't make.

        If it's
        Not your body,
        Then it's
        Not your choice
        And it's
        None of your damn business!

        by TheOtherMaven on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 10:41:58 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  One stands out for me (11+ / 0-)

    It was a gift from my grandmother when I was about eight - A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett, with illustrations by Tasha Tudor. The illustrations were a critical part of my enjoyment of this particular version of this book.

    The story is great, about a little girl who grows from a life of wealth and privilege as a pampered student in a girls boarding school but then suffers a reversal of fortune when her father is presumed dead and she is suddenly without family or fortune and left to the meager charities of the woman who owns the school who turns her into a scullery maid who has to live in the garrett. Throughout her ordeal, the heroine Sarah Crewe tells herself that she is a princess in hiding and must always conduct herself like the noble person she knows herself to be, despite her circumstances. In her reduced situation she befriends another waif and even tames a resident mouse in her attic. All ends well as it turns out her father did leave her a fortune, she is restored to her proper place in society and those who were wicked to her when she was poor, like Miss Minchin, the school mistress, get their comeuppance.

    Super story, but the Tudor illustrations really took it over the top. There were a number of full page color plates that were simply amazing, the best one being the one where a secret benefactor has snuck into her attic in the middle of the night and furnished it with oriental rugs and comfortable chairs and has laid out tea on a tray and has built a roaring fire in her grate. I honestly think most of my adult life I have actually furnished rooms in my house in a subconscious homage to that particular illustration.

    In children's literature, the illustrations are part and parcel of what makes some great books great such as Alice in Wonderland, Arthur Rackhams Aesop's fables, Winnie the Pooh, etc.

    A Little Princess wasn't published with the Tasha Tudor illustrations, but I almost can't imagine reading the book without them. Tudor did another Burnett story, A Secret Garden with similar fantastic results.

    “Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough.” FDR

    by Phoebe Loosinhouse on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 07:24:43 AM PST

    •  Phoebe, love those two books, and the films (5+ / 0-)

      made from them!  My granddaughter and I watched both of them a couple of months ago and I have both books stored in the Treasure Chest in her room in my house.

      This was my favorite part too:

      There were a number of full page color plates that were simply amazing, the best one being the one where a secret benefactor has snuck into her attic in the middle of the night and furnished it with oriental rugs and comfortable chairs and has laid out tea on a tray and has built a roaring fire in her grate. I honestly think most of my adult life I have actually furnished rooms in my house in a subconscious homage to that particular illustration.
      It's funny how influential books can be, isn't it?

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

      "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

      by Diana in NoVa on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 07:55:27 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  A true story of my friend's experience: (8+ / 0-)

    The book club I belong to is different than most.  We don't pick one book and read it.  Everyone reads whatever we want and we get together and share reviews (and the books themselves) with the group.  And we have a potluck...and wine.

    At the last group, one of the members recounted how she had loved an obscure horse story as a little girl.  (I can't remember which one, now--sorry!--but it was one I had never heard of even and I thought I had read them all.)

    She just sort of remembered it again one day as she was riding her horse.  Like all of us now, she was overwhelmed by the warmth of her memories of this beloved book.  Her eyes even moistened as she told us this story at Book Club.  She resolved to search Amazon or one of the rare book sites if necessary to find a copy of it.  She told herself she would give it to her granddaughter, but that was a ruse.  She really wanted it for herself.    

    She rides her horse at a barn outside the small town I live in and on occasion will stop at the little restaurants and shops on her way home to the bigger city where she lives.  We have three bookstores in my little town and as she walked up to the door of one of them, guess what she saw displayed in the street side window?

    Her book!  The original!  An old, gently used, exactly-like-she-remembered-it copy.  Same red cover.  Same illustrations.  Everything.  

    As she told us this story, she held this book in her arms, hugging it next to her heart.  She allowed us to look at it, like a mother of a newborn nervously and proudly allows her baby to be held by others.  But then, back to her, to be hugged close again.  I'm sure her granddaughter will get that book some day...after grandma is finished with it.  That's what wills are for, right?        

    "In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle stand like a rock." Attributed to T. Jefferson

    by koosah on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 07:33:54 AM PST

    •  What a wonderful story, koosah! (6+ / 0-)

      Enjoyed reading your comment. And now tell us, what was the name of this obscure book?

      "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

      by Diana in NoVa on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 07:56:45 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Shoot, I can't remember it! (4+ / 0-)

        Seriously! She let us peep at that book like it was a preemie baby and we all had runny noses.  LOL.  

        I didn't recognize the title when she told it to us, though, so it wasn't one of the standard horse stories that girls read.  Not one of the Marguerite Henry books, or the Black Stallion and such.  

        I thought I had read all the horse books, but she is a bit older than I am and I get the feeling that this book may have even been old when she read it as a girl.    

        "In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle stand like a rock." Attributed to T. Jefferson

        by koosah on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 08:11:59 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  "Ann Can Fly"... (9+ / 0-)

    ....I was a prolific reader very early on--my mother read to me A LOT as a small child, and that established a love of books that persists to this day.

    I was very precocious in my reading skills, so much so that my mother had to write a note to my third-grade teacher and the librarian in our school asking them to allow me access to the "real" books in the liberry because they would only allow third-graders to select books from the children's books section, and as much as I enjoyed Dr Suess and Curious George, my reading skills and tastes were hardly sated by such fare. (They DID have "The Five Hundred Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins" which was a little more advanced reading than "Hop on Pop" or whatever, but STILL....)

    (After getting the note from mom, I went straight to the SF stacks and checked out R A Heinlein's "Rocket Ship Galileo" and "Verne's Omnibus", an anthology of all Verne's major stories...)

    My parents were divorced and I only got to hang out with Dad once or twice a year, so he was unaware of my skill level at reading, and he bought me a book as a gift, a children's book from the same publishers who gave us Dr Seuss et al, but it was different-it was about a young girl about my age whose Daddy comes to get her in his airplane and takes her to Grandma's House, very much my own aviation experience at the time, Dad was a member of his flying club at NAS Millington in Memphis, and he'd come and get me in a flying club plane and take me to visit Grandma up in Jersey...

    "Ann Can Fly" was very different from the other children's books, it was very realistically drawn, (india ink w a rapidograph and colored with water colors) and it was very specific in it's presentation.

    Ann's Daddy came to get her in a beautifully-drawn Cessna 180 on amphibian floats, and as a 10-year old airplane nut I knew EXACTLY what it was. The destination of Ann's trip to Grandma's Place was Las Vegas, and Daddy flew to Lake Mead and landed on the lake. After that? I dunno.

    My dad was apologetic when he discovered my reading skills far out-classed the book he'd gotten me, but I told him I loved it just the same because even if the writing was for little kids, the art was beautiful and realistic.

    And now I'm bawling over Dad....thanks a lot!  

    "Ronald Reagan is DEAD! His policies live on but we're doing something about THAT!"

    by leftykook on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 07:44:22 AM PST

    •  leftykook, what a happy memory of your father (6+ / 0-)

      and of the book! Good for you, getting such an early start on reading--I'm sure it has served you well in life.

      For my part, I very much like the fact that you were an airplane nut at age ten. There is a whole history of women flyers that has been absolutely ignored in this country. I think women can do anything, and have, especially in WWII, when American women pilots flew aircraft from the factory to the air bases where they were needed.

      Thank you so much for stopping by and commenting.  Sorry it made you bawl, but it's been great hearing from you.

      "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

      by Diana in NoVa on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 08:01:13 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I had the honor of meeting one of the WASPs (5+ / 0-)

        ...I was riding my dirt bike in the desert near Victorville CA in the mid-70's, and I blundered into a piece of property WAY out in the middle of nowhere, a cupla house trailers, a quonset hut-hangar, a crude airfield with a pair of old Cessna "Bamboo Bombers" (light twin-engine aircraft from the WWII-era) and a crusty old desert-rat of a lady who looked like Tugboat Annie or Ma Kettle in jeans and a plaid shirt with a double-barrel shotgun, who, upon discovering that I wasn't "trouble" invited me in for a nice cuppa and told me war-stories about her time in the WASPs.  It was a rare and unexpected pleasure to meet a treasure like her, particularly way out in the middle of nowhere like that....

        "Ronald Reagan is DEAD! His policies live on but we're doing something about THAT!"

        by leftykook on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 08:54:59 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  I had the Edith Hamilton (7+ / 0-)

    which would keep me up nights bugeyed. Later on my kids loved it. It doesn't pull punches (e.g., the scene where little Hercules bashes in his teacher's skull with a lute), or at least I thought it didn't until later on when I read the Aeneid, and said "Hey, she left out the forced necrophilia."

    Edith Hamilton's story is pretty cool. She was headmistress of Bryn Mawr Academy, near Baltimore, (I grew up in D.C. so I like that)  most of her life and in her fifties or sixties complied some of her coursework, which turned into this book, and she ended up suddenly a beloved worldwide scholar-author who got knighted by the Greek government.

  •  Some others.... (6+ / 0-)

    We had a set of four books about a family called "The Happy Hollisters" by god knows who, and I inherited my teen-age uncle's books, including four or five "Hardy Boys" mysteries and and a similar number of "Tom Swift Junior" books...

    My unk was also a source of a book about Norse mythology that told the basic outline of the Norsk Pantheon....

    I was always impressed that Odin was a "Boss God" who had limitations, and hadda pay a price for his efforts at running the world, particularly the story where he wanted to know the future and the keeper of the well you look into in order to see the future demanded one of his EYES....I think the message is that even being Almighty Gawd has it's price!

    (and I particularly liked story where Tor was challenged to various contests, like trying to guzzle a whole flagon of ale and couldn't, and thank Odin he couldn't because he was actually trying to swallow the OCEAN, and trying to out-eat an ancient old woman and failing, because the old woman was ACTUALLY a raging forest fire, and being out-wrestled by someone who actually turned out to be the giant serpent that holds the world together and Tor nearly tears apart the foundation of the world while losing the fight!)

    "Ronald Reagan is DEAD! His policies live on but we're doing something about THAT!"

    by leftykook on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 08:35:20 AM PST

  •  Island of the Blue Dolphins (6+ / 0-)

    Recently found an old copy of it when cleaning out inlaws vacant house.  Happy dance!

  •  In the 3rd grade (late '50s) (9+ / 0-)

    my teacher read to the class The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.  Opened my eyes to many magical and fantasy adventures.  I devoured a lot of fantasy fiction including E. Nesbit, Edward Eager, etc.  

    So hard to pick one favorite!

    Also loved the early Nancy Drew - much better than the later rewrites.

    While I didn't discover them in my youth, I did fall in love with George MacDonald (The Princess and the Goblin, The Princess and Curdie, etc).

    I still read and reread all these plus many other series including - Arthur Ransome's Swallows and Amazon and other Lake District tales, Susan Cooper's The Dark is Rising, Lloyd Alexander's The Chronicles of Prydain, Madeline L'Engle's Wrinkle in Time.

    In the middle of rereading the Harry Potter Series for the 8th or 9th time.  Reread the existing books in the series as each new one came out.

    So, yes, in my mid 60's and I still really love juvenile and YA  fantasy literature.

    •  eagleray, Portlaw also loved the Arthur Ransome (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      P Carey, RiveroftheWest, No Exit

      tales about the Swallows and Amazons! She made the first comment upthread, so do have a look.

      You've read a lot of wonderful books.  I well remember our classroom teacher reading us The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe in Singapore. That sparked my interest in reading all the Narnia series. Later, in Little Rock, when I babysat for two sisters, I read the Narnia books to them.  When they moved to Seattle they told everyone they knew about Narnia.

      We can rejoice in all the marvelous books we read as children and still reread today. It's made us who we are now. And yes, I loved Harry Potter too, even though I didn't meet him until I was a grandmother!  :)

      "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

      by Diana in NoVa on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 10:05:06 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Chronicles of prydain were favorites of mine... (0+ / 0-)

      Deserves it! I daresay he does. Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement. For even the very wise cannot see all ends. - Gandalf the Grey

      by No Exit on Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 08:48:10 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  My parents stopped trying to control my reading (7+ / 0-)

    when I was 7.  We lived in a house with a daylight basement at the time, and my sister and I shared a bedroom that was in the basement.  

    I came upstairs one day with a book in my hand and asked my mother to please explain who was actually fighting in the battle because there were so many "sons of" in the list that I couldn't figure out who was actually there except for the one who got a spear through the nipple.

    My mother figured out that I was reading the Iliad, and the only copy in the house was hers.  She has always said that was when she realized there was no point in even trying to keep track.

    She eventually gave me the book, when she married my stepfather - I still have it.

    Strength and dignity are her clothing, she rejoices at the days to come; She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the law of kindness is on her tongue.

    by loggersbrat on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 09:15:58 AM PST

    •  My goodness, you were an early starter, loggers! (4+ / 0-)

      And how amazing that you were reading The Iliad. Your mother must have been astounded.

      And no, there must have no holding you back--you out-of-control reader, you! :)

      Thanks for sharing this highly interesting story of the book you loved as a child.

      "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

      by Diana in NoVa on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 10:07:01 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  There are so many... (5+ / 0-)

    But for now I'll mention Half Magic and other books by Edward Eager.

    Shop Liberally this holiday season at Kos Katalog

    by JamieG from Md on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 10:57:27 AM PST

  •  Treasure Island, 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea (4+ / 0-)

    The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. All never left my nightstand, those and a healthy stack of marvel comics!

    Im not what you woould call "God fearing", I feel God has a lot to answer for... God should fear my judgement...

    by Greatwyrm on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 11:08:44 AM PST

  •  Loved all the books by Edward Eager (3+ / 0-)

    Half-magic, Magic By the Lake, and so on.

    Loved Call of the Wild, Little House on the Prairie....

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