December 30, 2016

Great Summer Read: Reread a childhood favourite

Of all the challenges, this is the one that most has me wondering what the top choice will end up being.


Roald Dahl is the most popular choice for now, with The Twits, The Witches, The BFG and Matildain that order.  

(If the thought just occurred to you that Hey, I could watch The BFG for Challenge number 8, "Watch a movie based on a book", may I say that yes, you could, but it does have a bit of a wait list as all new releases do. But do you know of the two other Roald Dahl adaptations which are firmly up there among the movies no child -- and few adults -- should miss: the hilarious Matilda, directed by and starring Danny DeVito, and the whimsical stop-motion James and the Giant Peach, with the wonderful Pete Postlethwaite and, please quote me, "See Miriam Margolyes and Joanna Lumley as Aunts Spiker and Sponge and die".)

Enid Blyton is in next place, a generation older but having such a long career and being so prolific that it hardly matters, and let's not forget about the handing-down. One for all: the reader of Five go to Mystery Moor who says "This book is sentimental to me as it's the first famous five book my mum gave me to read".

If Enid Blyton is sentimental to you too, have a look at the website of the Enid Blyton society. If you, for instance, read The magic faraway tree between 1971 and 2014, you'll be able to find your very cover among the 16 covers on the 16 editions from those years. Which was your era? Bell-bottom jeans? Roman sandals? With white socks? No socks? 

2014 edition
First edition, 1943

New Zealand titles: Two that I didn't know which have been logged are The house that grew by Jean Strathdee from 1979, a "positive rendering of an alternative lifestyle in the bush" (says www.picturebooks.co.nz), which hopefully doesn't yet seem overly dubious as a premise; and No one went to town by Phyllis Johnston, published in the same period but set in pioneer days, the story of a real-life family in the hills of Taranaki. Anyone else remember these?

Oldie-but-goldies:  Oliver Twist from 1838 is the oldest of all the books people have read for this challenge, followed by, to my great pleasure, The Jungle Bookfrom 1894. This is the book where you'll find the story "Rikki Tikki Tavi", recently voted by our table of librarians at our Christmas lunch the scariest story of their formative years, and an excellent read-aloud I could have included in my recommendations, although you do have to be ready to impersonate a snake, because if you don't hiss a line like "If you move I strike, and if you do not move I strike. Oh, foolish people, who killed my Nag!'' then it's never going to work.



Moving into the 20th century, we have The railway childrenAnne of Green Gables which I was shocked to discover was first published in 1908, I read that book as a kid and it didn't seem that old; Milly Molly Mandy, Mary Poppins, then at mid-century The snow goose ("I love this book as it brings back memories of reading with my Grandad" was the comment) and The Black Stallion, and moving into the post-Beatles'-first-LP era, Watership Down.

Welcome to this century: Put your hands together for those readers who had Percy Jackson and Jimmy Coates to accompany them in their childhoods! And Coraline!


What are you all re-reading for Challenge number 4? Let us know in the comments!

Anyone share any of these childhood favourites of mine?

Alice in Wonderland (my cult book)
Stuart Little and Charlotte's Web (still digesting their gifts and will be all my life)
Ramona the pest  (and pretty much everything Beverly Cleary wrote)
Mrs Piggle-wiggle (for giggles)
Pippi Longstocking (talk about strong female heroines)
The Little House books (“Now is now. It can never be a long time ago.” says Laura. Unless you are lucky enough to have a book to read like the Little House books)
Just so stories (and which was your favourite, oh best beloved? Mine was Cat who walked by himself)
The Little Grey Men (how I dreamed of building an airplane like theirs!) and Down the bright stream 
Little Women, Little men, and even more, the proto-feminist Eight Cousins and Rose in bloom
Treasure Island (one of the most perfect books ever written)
The Phantom Tollbooth (manifesto for curiosity!)

And finally, I want to especially mention The Borrowers. I want to mention The Borrowers in this context of re-reading childhood books, because it is the book where I most vividly and unmistakably remember the sensation of believing in its magic. At the back of our old wooden house, my sister and I noticed that moss was growing underneath one of those airing grates that houses have down at their foundations. We knew that it was because our borrowers were using the grate to empty out their buckets of water (our toothpaste tube tops!) after mopping the floor of the house they had made below our floorboards. We were sure that one day we would catch sight of them. Actually, I seem to remember we did, once, or maybe it was the flash of a piece of foil a borrower was using for a mirror as she dried her hair by their window that we saw. Yes, that would have been it.










Ditulis Oleh : Karen Craig // 18:00
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22 comments:

  1. As leaving a comment here is one of the list of challenges I'm surprised I'm the first to comment here... Anyway, although many of the books mentioned above were books I loved as a child, my all-time favourite was "The Ugly Duckling". I requested and read an old edition as the pictures are more as I remember them. This was a book which deeply affected me as a child as I related to the poor little ugly duckling - but no-one ever asked me why I liked the story so much. Had they done so adults in my life may have found out earlier the struggles I was having at school with making friends and with bullying - things I struggled to express as a young child. I'd encourage anyone who reads to a child to always ask if they if they like/dislike a story and find out why - especially one that so clearly describes troubling emotions a child may struggle with yet not be able to express well.

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    1. Thanks for this thoughtful and thought-provoking comment. One of the great qualities of books is the way they encourage you to use your imagination, more than movies(and I'm a movie lover!)I think where everything is "shown", so that you can really immerse yourself in a character, all the more so when the author himself has done so, as with The Ugly Duckling. I wonder if bullies reading the story also recognise themselves in the mean ducklings, and are ashamed. I'd like to think so- and as you say about your own experience, if an adult were to talk with them about how they felt about what they'd read, it would make it more likely.

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  2. Thanks ACL Summer Read organisers - I have had a great time revisiting my childhood favourites, in part by asking other people, and having reminders flood in. My immediate pick was The Jungle Book. My brother said - Dr Dolittle!!! My sister voted for Lorna Doone. Friends reminded me - Heidi, Black Beauty, the Oz series, The Girl of the Limberlost. Today I called into the Devonport Wharf Second Hand Book Store - soon to close for wharf refurbishments, and there was Dog Crusoe, and Coral Island, and Mary Grant Bruce's Billabong series. It has been a lot of fun to reconnect with these, and to realise that some of the great classics (Narnia, The Borrowers, The Indian in the Cupboard, E. Nesbit) that I first read only as a parent... have had some pretty exciting precursors.

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    1. Hi Eila
      So glad you enjoyed your trip down nostalgia lane! You certainly enriched mine with these mentions- how had I forgotten the Oz books (The Gnome King! The Patchwork Girl! The flying sawhorse! how could one imagination have done that?). Girl of the Limberlost! Mysterious, mystical, full of sorrow and loss, but also indomitable joy and spirit. And Elnora's lunchbox!

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  3. Ramona the Pest is a personal favorite of mine.It is interesting to see how Ramona looks at the world as it is different to how i do nevertheless though i enjoyed it and i re -read several times throuhout my childhood

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    1. Apart from the fun in finding out how the situations she got herself into would resolve themselves, I think I also enjoyed Ramona for her directness and bravery which I would have liked to have more of! However she was a pest and I think the reason we could all love her so much is because she was in a book which we could read and then put away and then reread when we wanted to - unlike poor Beezus or Miss Binney, who also loved her but had no respite!

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  4. I particularly love this challenge as my daughter is four and I get so much enjoyment out of re-reading old favourites together with her. When she was about two I made a long list of old favourites and we have been working through them. Sometimes she prefers picture books, but often loves longer stories - we read the whole Magic Faraway series in the space of a few weeks (at breakfast, at morning tea, at lunch, at afternoon tea, at dinner and for before bed stories!!). Some favourites of mine that we have revisited together have been Heidi, Pippi Longstocking, My Naughty Little Sister and Enid Blyton classics. My number one favourite book from my childhood was Children on the Oregon Trail but I will wait till my daughter is a bit older before reading that with her.

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    1. Sad to say, my library when I was growing up doesn't seem to have stocked "My Naughty Little Sister", as I would definitely have read it if they had, but happily Auckland Libraries does. Mine did have "Mrs Pepperpot" which I see it likened to, and which I do recall liking. Glad to see we also have a copy of "Children on the Oregon Trail" - with illustrations by Peggy Fortnum, who did the original Paddington Bear illustrations. Many thanks for putting these into the mix!

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  5. I enjoyed this summer reading challenge! I have many favourites from my childhood but the one I chose to re-read for the summer challenge is one I think no one else will... It was 'Captives and Castaways' by Winifred Owen. I remember this book vividly from my childhood. I think it resonated with me because the main character was about my age, and it was thought provoking being about New Zealanders, at home, in war time. It has always been a story that I've remembered...

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    1. Such an evocative title! Not to be confused with the book from the same publishers around the same year, called "Black Boots and Buttonhooks". We haven't got that one (I found it on Kotui, the shared system for public libraries in New Zealand) but we have many copies of "Captives and Castaways" - anyone else out there have it lodged in their heart?

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  6. This was a great challenge to include and it got me thinking about books that I hadn't thought about in years! In particular, the entire series of Trixie Beldon books (she was in competition with Nancy Drew) that I collected in the early 80's and still have on my bookshelf! Can't wait to see if I can solve the mysteries before she does!

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    1. Hi Amanda,
      Trixie wasn't part of my childhood, but I see she has a lot of longtime fans and websites by and for fans! Glad you liked the challenge and got to revisit her! My father always used to say that one of the great thing about your books is that they never reproach you if you don't visit them for a long time, unlike some people...

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  7. It was difficult to choose a book for this challenge - I have so many childhood favourites! In the end I went with 'A Wrinkle in Time' by Madeline L'Engle. Re-reading it reminded me that its message of resisting people and organisations that force you to give up thinking for yourself is still relevant today. What was quite eerie was re-reading about the controlling organism, IT! The book was originally written in 1963 long before the abbreviation for Information Technology was in such common usage. Even when I read it first in the 1980s, IT wasn't part of our daily language. Reading it now, the scenes with IT have a whole new resonance!

    I remember reading and enjoying Phyllis Johnson's 'No One Went To Town' when I was a kid.

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    1. Hi Kathryn,
      What a great choice - I think you could say "even more relevant today", if you look at insidious types of force like media pressure. One of my favourite childhood books,"The Gammage Cup", written just a few years before "A wrinkle in time" and for a slightly younger reader perhaps, is a fable about a group of villagers who are exiled for not wearing, or painting their houses, the "right" colours dictated by their stuffy leaders. It was a battlecry for non-conformity (in the end they save the village) and I loved it. I'm very pleased to see it is still finding readers - despite being much less acclaimed than A Wrinkle in Time" -- someone has it out right now!

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  8. I grew up with the Mrs Pepperpot books but when I went to find them to read to my daughters a few years back was unable to find any. I chose to read Horton Hears a Who for this challenge as I read it many times to my younger brother as it was his all time favourite and he never seemed to tire of hearing it. I still have his copy on my bookcase. I have also watched the movie in later years. To be honest any book by Dr Suess is a favourite of mine.

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    1. Hi Mrs Pepperpot fan, it looks as if we have about 20 Mrs Pepperpot titles, many of which we have several copies of. Some titles are in children's fiction and some are in picture books. I wonder if you had looked before all the regional libraries joined together as Auckland Libraries about five years back. Or maybe they were just all out when you looked. It's always good to ask a librarian, too, as with older books there are often copies in our Central Library basement. We can't fit everything and still make room for new books! But Dr Suess is always nice to revisit and some of the best readalouds you can find. My favourite was The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins!

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  9. It was hard to choose a favourite book from when I was a kid because I was such a voracious reader. I loved some little fairytale books that I had, The Little Mermaid, and Thumbelina, because they were beautifully illustrated by an artist called Rie Cramer. I still have them and treasure them.

    When I was older I loved the Jungle Book, Doctor Dolittle and Tarzan. I think the common theme was being able to talk to animals. And there was a series of books about animals by an author called Jim Kjelgard, I read all I could get my hands on. Plus of course the Narnia books, especially The Silver Chair, lots of danger and excitement in that one. And anything by Beverly Cleary too, all the Beezus books!

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    1. Hi Anita,
      Such a wonderful list! Is this the Jim Kjelgaard who wrote Big Red? A classic and very personal to me as my mother had owned a beloved Irish setter when she was growing up -- named Ginger, a variant on Big Red I guess! We still have some of his books in our collections, I see. Agree with you about the awesomeness of talking to animals- also true for animals who talk to us (Signed, a Paddington fan)

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    2. Yes, Big Red was his best known book, but he wrote a few others about setters as well, like Irish Red and Outlaw Red. But I read all of his books that I could find when I was a tween.

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  10. For the challenge I chose to reread James and the Giant Peach! It was one of the first Roald Dahl books I've read and the illustrations really stood out to me - especially the ones of the cloud men. Even after reading the rest of the Roald Dahl books, this one will always hold a special place in my heart.

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    1. Hello fellow James and the Giant Peach fan, I think one of the reasons I have such fond memories of this Roald Dahl is that once James escapes the Aunts, there aren't any other mean or bad characters - at least that's how I remember it -- a merry band of adventurers!

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    2. PS Have you watched the movie version of James and the Giant Peach? It's wonderful - great scenography, great acting, even songs! Auckland Libraries has a copy - I highly recommend it!

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