25 March 2009

Books from Yesteryear

Certain books can't help but remind you of your childhood. My favourite book growing up was the New Zealand classic My Cat Likes to Hide in Boxes.

And before you ask, it does exactly 'what it says on the box':
The cat from Spain flew an aeroplane. The cat from France likes to sing and dance. But my cat likes to hide in boxes.
And no, I didn't need to open my myriad of book boxes to find the book and check the quote (yes I have a copy). It's engrained!
I also loved Eric Carle's The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Richard Scary (although I can't remember which book... I wonder if I still have it?). As I got older Winne-the-Pooh (AA Milne) was another favourite. AA Milne had the most amazing chapter titles (e.g. Chapter 1: In Which We Are Introduced to Winnie-the-Pooh and Some Bees and the Stories Begin; Chapter 2: In Which Pooh Goes Visiting and Gets Into a Tight Place).

My mother usually read to me - my father tried once (so I have been told) but attempted to skip sections (so as to speed the process up)... He was not amused when I pointed this out and that was the end of my father's career in reading.

So, which books do you remember from your childhood?


  1. *soft smile* - I remember My Cat Likes to Hide in Boxes and The Very Hungry Caterpillar as well. Also the Hairy McLary books, and one that I remember my mother reading me often called "The Pussycat Tiger".

    Then as I got older, the Narnia set, the Noel Streatfield set, the Neverending Story (and Momo), the Susan Cooper "Dark is Rising" set, and Under the Mountain all come to mind as treasured reads (and re-reads). Actually, by that stage I was reading so many different books in so many different genres that it's hard to pick just one or two favourites - I was a complete and utter bookworm who just loved reading!

  2. Did you know that the 40th anniversary of The Hungry Caterpillar was this week?

    I loved As I Was Crossing Boston Common and Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.

    "Some days are like that, even in Australia." That's a quote that we use regularly in my house.

  3. Interesting question.

    Mine was an adult book, actually. As she was driving through the hellish morning traffic in Mexico City to take the five of us devil spawn to school, my mother used to tell us--from memory, mind--the Paul Feval novel Le Bossu, an intrigue and swashbuckling story full of duels and lies and mystery.

  4. The Winnie the Pooh books are a childhood favorite. I still remember the books always out, by the phone, accessible to anyone who was going to read my bedtime story (I had 3 much older siblings and my parents, so anyone of them might do bedtime duty for me!) I'm still a big Pooh fan, and my hyper husband reminds me of Tigger! ;-)

  5. The Pussycat Tiger I don't remember...but it sounds good!

    Did you know that the 40th anniversary of The Hungry Caterpillar was this week?

    No I didn't....which makes this post surprisingly well timed. I LOVED that book, although it is rather scary to think that it is 40 years old!

    Some days are like that, even in Australia.

    And that quote completely sums up my day!

    Le Bossu - interesting choice...the story sounds fascinating...and from memory! WOW! Umm....out of interest, who named you devil spawn?

    Oh, and I thought of a few more...as you do *grin* 'Where The Wild Things Are' is one. 'The Wombles'...and an audiobook version of The Happy Prince (Oscar Wilde), which ALWAYS makes me cry when I hear it.

  6. That's lovely Renee! I remember my school friends and I planning a Winnie-the-Pooh party when we were younger...I was Christopher Robin. Not quite sure why I wasn't one of the animals... :)

  7. 3 books I can clearly remember from childhood are:

    The Machine Gunners by Robert Westall - set in WW2 some children find a German plane that has crashed and they take the machine gun from the wreckage and try to set up their own fortress and use the gun to try to shoot down German planes bombing their neighbourhood.

    The Velvet Room by Zilpha Snyder - about an insecure little girl whose family had moved around a lot as the father was a migrant worker. He finally finds a permanent job on an orange orchard in California. The little girl finds a secret room in an abandoned mansion and it becomes her haven from her siblings.

    Lord of the Flies by William Golding - a group of British school boys trying to survive after getting stuck on a deserted island.

    I have vivid memories of these books even after 30+ years.

  8. I never read Maurice Gee's Under The Mountainbut I certainly remember the TV series! It will be interesting to see the movie that they have recently made (I think it stars Sam Neill)

  9. orannia, when a parent tells you "oh I so hope you get children just like you!" the whole 'devil spawn' bit is sort of implied. (I know 'cause I've wished that on my own children :grin: )

    Here's some more context on why Le Bossu (which truly is a fascinating story, even if the prose is a tad too... well, it was written in the 1800's and let's leave it at that).

    erm... back to context.

    My mother's father was born in the waning years of the nineteen century. He was one of the last guys in Mexico to fight a duel for a woman (with swords not guns, mind). He was also a poet, a diplomat, a philosopher and a teacher. He gave his children a life long love for literature. He also gave my mother a copy of the first Spanish translation of Le Bossu while she was a young teen, and only a few years before dying.

    My mother read that copy within an inch of its life and memorized entire chapters--she could even enact some of the swordfights (see back to my grandfather fighting duels).

    Driving the brood from hell (me and the four older siblings) to school through morning traffic in Mexico could take anywhere from 45 minutes to over an hour (even back then) so she had to find a way to keep us relatively calm and quiet.

    Either that or give in to the impulse to chuck one or three out the window.

    And so by the time I was four or so, she would tell us the story, a bit every morning, and even though it would take weeks, we would ask her to start over almost as soon as she was done.

  10. ShellBell: The Velvet Room! I actually did a post on childhood faves a while back, and that one was on the list. I really see that being the book that made me a reader (rather than being a kid who was read to.) It has a really special place in my heart!

  11. Azteclady - thank you so much for sharing that memory. WOW!

    ShellBell - I remember Robert Westall's books but I'm not sure if I read it. Oh, and I thought of another one I just loved: The Silver Sword (Ian Serraillier).