Barbara: Last week when I asked about the 5 indelible books of your life, I hadn’t really delineated between childhood and adulthood and, while many of you included childhood books on your lists (and were welcome and encouraged to!), some of you asked (nay, begged!) that we add another Five Crazy Things solely dedicated to childhood books (and, yes, also cartoons, I saw that appeal and it is in the queue!). So we’re going to try this again, shall we? What 5 childhood books made an indelible impact in your life?
1. A Time for Liza. I don’t know who wrote it, and I can’t find it anywhere anymore, but I do remember reading this book over and over and over. It was about a little girl who tried to make herself useful but ended up spoiling everything. Really she just wanted some attention. For someone who never re-reads books anymore (I wish I did, but there’s always a new one out there, seducing me). This is from early childhood.
2. Another book from early childhood (I was maybe 4) that I can remember reading over and over but whose important details I have completely forgotten: it was a picture book about a squirrel setting up house in a dollhouse. How I loved the whole “nesting” theme and the sweetness of the Victorian dollhouse (which I coveted).
3. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, by Betty Smith. I read this book when I was 13. After I finished it, I wrote my own first “novel”, a 60pg homage. I will never forget sitting at my little portable typewriter, radio on (Seasons in the Sun and Cat’s in the Cradle playing on repeat), and channeling the story of a turn-of-the-(last)century, poverty-stricken family (neither of which I knew anything about) and discovering the true transcendence of the writing experience.
4. Nancy Drew mysteries. I gobbled these up in my tween years, so inspired by the scrappy dedication of our intrepid amateur sleuth, but also loving the pure storytelling of the mysteries.
5. Alice in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll. It, like the Chronicles of Narnia and The 1001 Nights, opened up a whole new world of possibilities for me. Anything could happen; amazing things happened! I always loved strong female leads and thrilled to adventures and challenges that seemed to defy solutions and which, inevitably, were triumphed over.
1. Along with Nancy Drew I was a huge fan of Trixie Beldon, Donna Parker, and the Hardy Boys.
2. Go Dog Go was huge for me. I don’t know why but I wanted to join them for that party in the tree! “Hello.” “Hello.” “Do you like my hat?” “I do. I like that party hat.” “Good bye.” “Good bye.”
3. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn for me too! I did not sit down and write a novel though (wow, Barb!), but I loved the relationship between the father and daughter. Love the movie too.
4. It wasn’t a book but in many ways, Mad Magazine shaped and influenced me more than I can say. It was my bible.
5. I know it will sound odd but the Dick and Jane series really captivated me. I loved their perfect little orderly life and I loved the illustrations.
I also loved:
Watership Down and Alice in Wonderland and The Crysalids were huge for me, but they were not childhood. I read them and The Hobbit as a teen. But all of them stayed with me. I named my first dog Fiver after the little hero rabbit in Watership Down.
And anything anywhere with Arthur Rackham illustrations in it. I still pour over my Fairies and Giants books and of course T’was the Night before Christmas.