There are several childhood books in my library that are in the I’ll-never-part-with category, except maybe to pass on to grand-children. One of them is Come to Storyland with pages missing and others as brittle as autumn leaves.
Here is blogger friend and author Susan Nicholls’ story about her favorite. (Click to view more illustrations and the rest of her story.) Do you have a beloved book or books?
I have an old copy of Uncle Wiggily in the Countryby Howard R. Garis. The copyrights are 1916 and 1940. The title is worn, the book is held together with tape. Various children have colored its yellowed, torn pages. The book was first purchased by my grandma to read to my aunt and my mother. They were born in 1940 and 1942 respectively.
Grandmother Nicholls and Uncle Wiggily
Then, my mother read it to me and my two sisters, one older, one younger. We used to cuddle in the center of my sister’s twin bed and listen as she read each chapter. We would embrace under the covers protecting each other and hiding from the tiddlewink, an evil but sympathetic creature with claws and sharp teeth who lived in any body of water from swamps and ponds to bathtubs and washtubs. My mother died when I was eight, and…
Anna Quindlen in her splendid 84-page book How Reading Changed My Life describes reading as her “perfect island.” She doesn’t say where the island exists, so it can be anywhere the reader imagines it to be.
My perfect island as a girl was the attic under the sloping roof, unless it was summer steamy hot, or winter frosty cold. Then my nest was on my bed, or flopped on the davenport, across a chair, anywhere . . . .
My books were not like Quindlen’s list of “10 Books for a Girl Who Is Full of Beans.” I didn’t read her noble suggestions like Little Women, Anne of Green Gables, Madeline, or even A Wrinkle in Time as a young girl, but I did become addicted to the Cherry Ames series, books in the mold of Nancy Drew: Cherry Ames, Student Nurse, Army Nurse, Flight Nurse. If you have read them, you may know Cherry, short for “Charity,” is the heroine in a series of 27 mystery novels with hospital settings between 1943 and 1968.
I slurped up Lucy Winchester by Mennonite author Christmas Carol Kauffman, the story of Lucy’s spiritual quest to find peace “set against the backdrop of two difficult marriages and many sorrows, broken promises, sickness, infant deaths, alcoholism, and poverty.”
In a trip up to the attic again as an adult, my sisters and I rummaged through the stash of antique books (they’re over 50!) and divvied them up among ourselves.
Yes, I read books, books, lots of them, but these are what remain from girlhood days:
The book whose spine is taped up is entitled Bird Life in Wington (1948) a book of parables by Rev. J. Calvin Reid, pastor of Mt. Lebanon Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh,
who invented the First Birderian Church of Wington to deliver sermonettes to parishioners named Professor Magpie, Baldy Eagle, Mr. Heron, a fisherman–you get the idea.
The images in this Valentine story are imprinted on my mind with cookie cutter precision, the secret to the surprise valentines that replace the snow-damaged paper cards by the window. This reader also contained the story of the “The Woman Who Used Her Head” by chopping a hole in her roof to accommodate the lofty altitude of her Christmas tree.
Finally, a “real” literature book with Hawthorne’s The Great Stone Face, Emerson’s poem The Snowstorm, announced by “all the trumpets of the sky,” Longfellow’s The Courtship of Miles Standish, and Joan of Arc, the heroic maid who saved France from conquest. A vision, voices, an ancient prophecy–what could be more romantic for a plain Mennonite girl who dreamed of castles, and princes, and fulfillment, oh my!
Did this post jog your memory of textbooks, gift books, library books from your own past?
Please tell us about them.
Another invitation to vote for my story in The Gutsy Story Contest: