Monday, October 16, 2006

There are perhaps no days of our childhood we lived so fully as those we spent with a favorite book.*

Reading Manolo's post today, was like a trip back to my childhood and with one or two obvious exceptions, his childhood reading material was exactly the same as mine (although I had hundreds of Ladybird books - and still do!!!)

Seeing A Children's Garden of Verses, made me smile...I love that book...I still have my original copy...a large, beautifully illustrated, hard back version - I was given it for my fourth birthday....granted my copy is now very dog-eared...but it is still a beautiful book...three of my favourites follow....

From a Railway Carriage

Faster than fairies, faster than witches,
Bridges and houses, hedges and ditches;
And charging along like troops in a battle
All through the meadows the horses and cattle:
All of the sights of the hill and the plain
Fly as thick as driving rain;
And ever again, in the wink of an eye,
Painted stations whistle by.

Here is a child who clambers and scrambles,
All by himself and gathering brambles;
Here is a tramp who stands and gazes;
And here is the green for stringing the daisies!
Here is a cart run away in the road
Lumping along with man and load;
And here is a mill, and there is a river:
Each a glimpse and gone forever!

Bed in Summer

In winter I get up at night
And dress by yellow candle-light.
In summer quite the other way,
I have to go to bed by day.

I have to go to bed and see
The birds still hopping on the tree,
Or hear the grown-up people's feet
Still going past me in the street.

And does it not seem hard to you,
When all the sky is clear and blue,
And I should like so much to play,
To have to go to bed by day?

The Land of Counterpane

When I was sick and lay a-bed,
I had two pillows at my head,
And all my toys beside me lay,
To keep me happy all the day.

And sometimes for an hour or so
I watched my leaden soldiers go,
With different uniforms and drills,
Among the bed-clothes, through the hills;

And sometimes sent my ships in fleets
All up and down among the sheets;
Or brought my trees and houses out,
And planted cities all about.

I was the giant great and still
That sits upon the pillow-hill,
And sees before him, dale and plain,
The pleasant land of counterpane.

Robert Louis Stevenson

I still have all my children's books....I'm still undecided if someone's child will be the lucky beneficiary or if I shall be guilty of the ultimate act of selfishness and keep them all for myself!

The box (actually, realistically it's boxes!) contains such treasures as all the Famous Five books (including the first one, Five go to Treasure Island, which at the age of 7 gave me such a bad nightmare I still remember the dream and waking up screaming!), actually on the subject of nightmares...I also had a terrifying nightmare years later after reading the Ladybird book about Florence Nightingale...there was a terrifying illustration there of the fighting in the Crimea.

Anyway, back to the contents of the box....Swallows and Amazons and all of Arthur Ransome's other books, all A.A. Milne's books, all the classics...Jane Eyre etc, atlases...even at a young age I had an obsession with maps and atleses...probably because they offer such possibilities to an overactive imagination! Enycolpedias, reference books by the bucketload. Arthur C. Clarke's entire collection..but Rendevous with Ramawas...and remains my favourite science fiction book ever! I know that somewhere at the bottom of the pile is the complete Beatrix Potter collection, probably knocking around with my Kipling collection. Like Manolo, but for different reasons, I was also not encouraged to read comic books...however, there was one exception..and that was my father's Eagle annual collections...where I could follow the exploits of Dan Dare. As a result of the comic ban, my love for Calvin & Hobbes, the Far Side and Herman came much, much later!

Due to my early French education...there are quite a few French children's books in the collection, but to be honest, I cannot remember any of them...but I do remember the stories being more 'flowery' and unreal compared to the English stories!

This little trip down memory lane has made me think that when I go back to the UK next month I should unpack the box and see what other memories are in there...

* Marcel Proust


Anonymous guile said...

the far side and calvin & hobbes are two of the greatest things ever invented since sliced bread..

4:23 pm  

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