. . . Imagine eight little Wenches as small girls, each curled up in a big comfy chair, lost in the pages of some wonderful book . . . Anne's recent post about A. A. Milne and our beloved bear-pal, Winnie the Pooh, inspired us Wenches to think about our own favorite books when we were just small.
1. The Blue Fairy Book, Red Fairy Book, Pink Fairy Book, Green…and so on. There were lots of different colours!
2. Various "horsey" books by Christine Pullein-Johnson and her sisters, Diana and Josephine
3. Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfield
4. Slim Tales, a series about anthropomorphic mice
I loved Tom Corbett. And Lucky Starr. And all of Heinlein's YAs. I guess I was ten or twelve …
This is going back a ways. I know I read about anything I could get my hands on. I loved the Narnia books. They're magical. I read all kinds of traditional fairy stories and legends. The Once and Future King. Oh. One book I remember enjoying when I was very young was Kingsley's Water Babies.
And I indulge myself with this, from Milne (it is better read aloud):
The King asked
The Queen, and
The Queen asked
"Could we have some butter for
The Royal slice of bread?"
I grew up in a house with only four books–classic plays like Ibsen that no one read but me. I can remember as a toddler grabbing Little Golden Books at the grocery so I got The Little Engine That Could and The Poky Little Puppy. I had no school library until fourth grade, where I remember starting on one end and working my way around, but if they had A. A. Milne, I was too old to consider it by the time I reached “M.” When I was able to order from Scholastic, I started with Pride and Prejudice. No one read to me, so I was completely on my own in my choices. When it came time to read to my own children, I had no background to call on. I started them on Seuss and Berenstains and they were reading on their own before age four. Dr. Seuss books are the ones my family quotes. Want to hear Red Fish, Blue Fish? My kids did eventually get Winnie the Pooh, but they read those books to themselves. So while my childhood reading material might have covered everything from Walter Farley to Dostoevsky (because I found a classic literature reading list), I missed out on all the favorites.
Mary Jo Putney:
Lucky Starr and the Pirates of the Asteroids, yessss!!!! That was Asimov in YA mode! The school library had only that one Lucky Starr book, but did have all the Heinlein YAs. And I read and reread and RE-read them. And I read all the Tom Corbett, Space Cadet books.
I've never read A. A. Milne or Paddington Bear or even Maurice Sendak. Nor The Secret Garden or the Wizard of Oz, among many others. A lot of the kid classics simply didn't come my way. If they had, I'd have read them, because I went through books like locusts through a field!
I read every horse book going. Pretty much all our reading matter came from English publishers in those days. There were some home grown — the Billabong series, old fashioned even when I was reading them, and various others. But I read everything I could get my hands on, didn't matter what kind of book and quickly went through all the books belonging to my older brother and sisters. Some books made it to Australia from the US. The Bobbsey twins and Cherry Ames came from the US, but I wasn't keen — they belonged to my older sister. I was more about the animals. So, Thunderhead, Flicka, The Silver Brumby (brumbies are wild horses in Australia), Finn the Wolf hound, Wild Brother (Mary Patchett), and more.
The first stories I remember having read to me — probably because they were family favorites and we read them over and over again — were Winnie the Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner by AA Milne. And loads of AA Milne poetry read aloud, much of which I still remember and can quote. I also loved the Pookie stories by Ivy Wallace. Pookie was a white rabbit with wings, who lived with a little girl called Belinda. I read pretty much any Enid Blyton book I could get my hands on — she was an incredibly prolific English children's author, who went out of favor for a while —political correctness, some of which was justified and some was plain silly. And also people thinking kids need to read only "good" literature, instead of fun reads. She's available again now, but some books are pretty dated. She was writing in the 40's and 50's and there's a bit of residual racism in some of the books. When I was little I liked Enid Blyton's Faraway tree series,and later it was the Famous Five, the "Mystery of" series (the Five Find-Outers and Dog) and her "of Adventure" series – Valley of Adventure, Mountain of Adventure etc, which had four children and a cockatoo (Kiki) and various other animals.
Cara Elliott/Andrea Penrose:
I started reading early on and quickly moved on to longer books with pictures. Stuart Little and The Wind in the Willows (with drawings by Arthur Rackham) and Howard Pyle's books on King Arthur, Robin Hood and Otto of the Silver Hand stick out in my memory. Even back then, I loved a rollicking good story! Winnie the Pooh was one of my early favorites too!
Fairy tales, first and foremost! I had a Tall Book of Fairy Tales that I adored, and also a big book of Greek myths that I hauled around everywhere with me. I loved Winnie the Pooh and Milne’s poetry, and I read my mother’s poetry books when I was very young—I remember Longfellow’s “Hiawatha,” “Evangeline,” R. L. Stevenson — I loved the rhythms and word beauty, though I didn’t understand them then. (My highest praise of a book when I was very young was to draw a princess in crayon on the flyleaf. To me, a flyleaf was just a blank sheet of paper begging for a princess, and the best books got the best princesses!)
My favorite children’s books, besides dear Pooh, were all the Pippi Longstocking books, which I read over and over, as well as Beverly Cleary’s Ellen Tebbits. I moved on to The Five Little Peppers, then Little Women and Little Men, and kept on going….
Your turn now! What were your favorite reads when you were just small? Some of the Wenches are going back to read their favorite children's tales again (and some of us are reading the ones we never got around to!) — and we'd love to know what you all loved to read, too . . .