Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Five Crazy Things: Childhood Books

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.


  1. Deb, your list is being all wonky again...lol.

    Oh, this is such a good one! :)

    1. Sarah, Plain and Tall. Read it cover to cover I don't even know how many times.
    2. The Berenstein Bears. I think Kelly and I had all of them.
    3. The Very Hungry Caterpillar. 'Nuff said! :)
    4. I can't remember the exact name of it, but it was something about Rainbowfish. Might have just been called Rainbowfish.
    5. A Wish for Wings That Work. Don't know the author, and it's a Christmas book, but my mom would read it all the time. It's about a penguin that wants to fly. Great story. :)

    1. Holly! A Wish for Wings that Work is a book based on the Bloom County comic strip that was hugely popular in the 1980's. That penguin's name is Opus, and I ADORE him!

      A Wish for Wings that Work was also a really cute, sweet, funny Christmas cartoon!


      I love Opus!

  2. Okay, so frustrating about the wonky Deb lists. I think I need to remove the "formatting" imposed by the list before I post her responses. I've never had a problem seeing them on the blog, but clearly some of you do. Does it work now???

    Oh, and thanks for a great list, Holly!

  3. 1. VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR! EEEEP! Loved that book.

    And the rest are the same as Holly's ^_^. Mom read those to us when we were young. She also forgot about Santa Cows ;]

  4. LOVE YOUR LISTS!!!!!! OMG awesome! But I dont have much to say about this coz I wasnt into books much when I was a kid...OR maybe I was I cant remember. I used to watch cartoons...A LOT. But books...I dunno. I do have some books from the last few years though.
    1. Nancy Drew...OFCOURSE! I just read one of those and I LOVED IT. I dont remember the name but it was really awesome.

    2. Naked Face by Sidney Sheldon. That was the first grown-up novel I read. I really enjoyed it, it was really mysterious. And...well the Protagonist was kinda cute...and handsome (I read this when I was 16 btw)

    3. I read this book called "Sambhaji" when I was like 17. It was about this Maratha ruler... I remember this distinctly because thats when I fell in love with reading. That book was about 800 pages and my mom was convinced I wouldnt complete it and I would never touch another book again. But she was wrong. I LOVED IT! and I can read it again. I liked it that much!

    4. I remember reading a lotta Archie comics...I KNOW MY list is a little weird. But its MY list. It has to be weird!

    5. I loved these books and I hope I had found them in my childhood...but I read...well heard the audio books last year. Twice! They are written by Abraham-hicks; 'Sara books' they are called. There are three of them. Its about a girl who learns the secret of creating life by a talking owl.


    Cannot wait for the cartoon list. Ohh...and heads up....Its gonna be LOONG! (I hope its not this thursday though. I MIGHT be away for a few days..But I'll try my best to come down. But I do hope its not this week!)

  5. Gosh you guys have such great lists....I feel so weird!!! Hang on...I AM WEIRD...Ahh well!

  6. 1. Green Eggs and Ham
    2. The little Church mouse
    3. Horton Hears a who
    4. The Trixie Beldon, Nancy Drew Series
    5. The Snow Goose

  7. Can we have a list about childhood movies maybe???

  8. 1.Green eggs and ham
    2.If you give a mouse a cookie
    3.see spot run
    5. Cat in the hat

  9. 1. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett, illustrations by Ronald Barrett.


    I fell in love with this book when it first came out in 1978, and I was 5. I remember laughing so hard that it made me sore! I spent looong spans of time pouring over every single detail in every illustration. I read the story and had it read to me so many times that I had memorized. It was the funniest book in the world to me! Especially the pictures!!! That book absolutely nailed my sense of humor as a child.

    Years later, I eagerly introduced my son to the book!

    (Note: I never watched the recent movie. I just didn't want it to spoil the book!)

    2. My Little Golden Book About God by Jane Werner Watson


    It's such a sweet, gentle book. I remember always looking for the lady bug. And, even though it's a very simple book for young children, I remember sitting with it in my lap and thinking about very big, serious things as a little bitty girl.

    I think it's originally from the 1950's. It enchanted me when reissued in the 1970's. I'm so glad it has been issued again in the 2000's for a new batch of children.

    3. The Real Mother Goose


    I don't know when this originally came out. I had it as a toddler in the early 1970's. I know it's been reissued at least once.

    This book was key in helping me start to learn to read long before I ever stepped foot into school. As a 2-3 year old, I knew many of the rhymes by heart. I could find many of them in the book by finding the correct illustration (many of which I can still see in my mind in great detail). So, I would sit in the floor with the book in my lap and say the rhymes and try to figure out which word on the page matched which word I was saying. This book pulled me into reading.

    1. Oh my god, Rigel, The Real Mother Goose! Yes, me too. Read that one over and over and over. How could I have forgotten???

  10. 4. The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner


    I know there's a series. But, it's the 1st one that captured my imagination as a young student (already a voracious reader!). I was completely enthralled by how those 4 children (and Watch the dog!) set up their own household and were self-sufficient. To me, they were so grown up! I still remember Benny's cracked pink cup!

    5. The Tom Corbett Space Cadet and Tom Swift science fiction books



    My Grandmama had kept bags of my uncles' hardback books from childhood in the attic of the workshop between the house and the pasture. Every time I visited Grandmama, I'd borrow a big brown grocery sack of hardbacks. I'd exchange them out for a new batch the next time.

    I blame my lifelong of science fiction on 3 things: a) watching after school reruns of original Star Trek on my neighbors' color TV (late 1970's) b) the original Battlestar Galactica which I watched as a small child during its original 1978 run, and c) reading my uncles' old Tom Corbett and Tom Swift hardbacks as a child.

    Honorable Mentions: Encyclopedia Brown books, Bobbsey Twins books, my Girl Scout handbook and badge book

    I wish I could remember the title of another book. It was a big, hardback Sesame Street book full of short stories. This was in the 1970's. I will ALWAYS remember the HILARIOUS, FABULOUS story where a couple of Muppets visit the ice cream shop and buy a long list of funny, funny, funny nonsense flavors of ice cream - one for each letter of the alphabet. I can still picture the teetering, tall stack of scoops. And, there was a scoop of something really nasty that was green. And, there was a scoop that had something to do with tires. It was so absurd and funny! But, I would just laugh and laugh.

  11. It's early but I'll give this a shot.

    1. See Dick Run (had to read these in school and always read way
    ahead because I loved to read and couldn't wait for the class

    2. Billy and Blaze - series of books about a boy and his horse

    3. The Black Stallion series ( You might notice a pattern here)

    4. Mary O'Hara series of books ( My Friend Flicka, Thunderhead, and
    The Green Grass of Wyoming

    5. Of course the Dr. Seuss books especially after my brother told me
    he was our Uncle (my mother is a Seus with one S). Sorry to say we
    are not related to my knowledge

    I loved to read as a child and sadly it's a lost pleasure to kids today. Thankfully I passed it on to my daughter who also loves to curl up with a book. My son not so much unless it has to do with sports : (

    Thanks for the fun lists gals!

  12. Gosh, how to narrow it down to just five. There are so many! Okay, I guess...

    1. The Hobbit - my mum read this to me when I was young, and I've read it many times since. It's so wonderful for the imagination, and so many fantastic characters. Tolkien rocks! (And I can't wait for the films to come out)
    2. Charlotte's Web
    3. The Wind in the Willows
    4. The Little Princess
    5. Matilda

    It's a shame that I'm too old to add the Harry Potter books to my list. They would definitely be on there! Now I have my own children, I'm loving reading all my childhood favourites to them. :)

    1. I recently just read The Hobbit for the first time. Easily my favorite book now! :) Sometimes I wonder if I would have enjoyed it as a kid.

      I can't wait for the movies either!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  13. P.S. Obviously, A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett is on my list, but I didn't put it in my top 5 childhood books here because I've already put on my top 5 fiction books of my whole life in an earlier post. Not just indelible from childhood --- I still have a copy! :)

  14. 1. The little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
    2. Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis
    3. Stephen Kings books
    4. Room 13 by Robert Swindells
    5. Law book (It was kind of law book for home)

  15. The Giving Tree -Shel Silverstein
    Corduroy-Don Freeman
    James and the giant peach - Roald Dahl
    Alligator Pie - Dennis Lee
    Mr. Men and Little Miss. books -Roger Hargreaves

    I loved the Nancy Drew series when I was a kid as well, my favorite mysteries though were a series by Canadian author Eric Wilson. I've repurchased the full series for my girls and my oldest loved them as well. Soemthing about mysteries being set in places I'd been really captured my imagination.

  16. Yay, it's the 5 crazy things day! :D

    Since I grew up in Germany, I don't know a lot of the books you posted there...and I guess I read some books, you've never heard of.

    1. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (I could taste the chocolate while reading...so yummy!)

    2. Die Wolke (The Cloud): I live near a nuclear power plant, and this book is about a nuclear accident that happens in exactly that power plant. Scary and sad. It was written because of Chernobyl.

    3. Enid Blyton (I loved her books - have to google the english titles :P ... like the Mystery series, the Famous Five series, Secret Seven series, St. Clare's series [it's so funny...the German titles are so different...]...)

    4. TKKG: that's like Famous Five, only German, and more modern ;)

    5. Astrid Lindgren: "Pippi Longstocking" and "Ronia the Robber's Daughter"

    And I loooooved reading horse books, or books about girls, who love to ride horses.^^

    I also started to read horror/fantasy books, when I was around 13/14

  17. Nail Soup
    Tom Sawyer
    the tree that grow in Brooklyn which is on tonight at 8pm
    Charlotte's Web
    My Little Golden Book

    1. I completely forgot about those "My Little Golden Book" books! Thanks for the reminder. Also forgot "Charlotte's Web." :)

  18. Sorry for bugging. Thanks for listening!!

    1. Junie B Jones series. My second grade teacher read us a new book from this series every week : ) Loved this reading time so much.
    2. Where the Wild things Are. Didn't see the recent movie but I loved the book.
    3. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. I read this for the first time in school and made my mom go out and buy me the book that day!!
    4. ....The Dr. Seuss book that has the rainbow hills and lanscape and goes something like 'Oh the places you'll go, the people you'll see, the things you'll do' I really liked this book despite not being able to recall the title now, which I'm sure is one of his very well know titles........
    5. Don't forget the Oatmeal!! we had a set of like 20 or 25 books that were all about a different sesame street character or so and each one , being childrens book, taught you a different lesson. I only liked one book from that series and still have it today. I swear I must have read this book or have had it read to me at least 100 times growing up. And it is just Bert and Ernie needing to go shopping for Oatmeal and then not remembering the oatmeal. Not the best plot I have ever come acreoss but it caputred my little heart : ) And I was just as engaged on the 100th read as the 1st...by this time knowing that they were goning to forget the Oatmeal!

    1. It is called "Oh, The Places You'll Go" and happens to be one of the top gifts given to students when they graduate. (Fun fact.)

    2. I don't know if this can even be called 'a Blonde moment' maybe an extreme blonde moment! How can I possibly not know the name of the book while I was typing the name of the book in the description of the book!? geeeze on man LOL thanks Dawn for the title and extra tidbit : )

  19. 1. The Borrowers

    2. A Treasury of Good Night Stories (still have this book) from 1952

    3. The Bobbsey Twins

    4. Little Women

    5. Nancy and Sluggo, Archie and Veronica comics and Richie Rich.


  20. 1. Anything Dr. Seuss
    2. The House at Pooh Corner
    3. Charlotte's Web
    4. Mr. Popper's Penguins
    5. Ginger Pye

    And my favorite part is reading these again with my kids!

  21. 1. Bobbsey Twins and/or Nancy Drew. I LIVED on those.

    2. Richard Scarry books. http://weloveyouso.com/2009/07/richard-scarry/
    There was one book in particular where Lowly worm gets baked into a loaf of bread. Sticks out in my mind as if I read it ten minutes ago. I was able to find a crib bedding set of these characters for my daughter when she was tiny. I LOVED that set!

    3. Dr. Seuss

    4. Anything by Judy Blume. "Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret" "Blubber" ... LOTS of 'em.

    5. 'Little House in the Big Woods' by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I read the entire series, but this one was my favorite.

  22. Deb, we also had that alphabet book which had "N is for Narwhal" in it. :)

  23. Oh, love these book lists! Going down memory lane. How could I forget Charlotte's Web and Little Women and Pippi Longstockings??? All my faves. And, as I said up there, the Real Mother Goose. As for Tom Sawyer, that is one of my fave grown-up books. Didn't read it as a child, but for the first time only a few years ago. It was a revelation!

  24. I was out yesterday (my birthday) so I didn't comment.
    Okay, books from childhood:
    1. Little Women. Really a wonderful read. I read it several times and just fell in love it the characters.
    2. Little House series of books. Loved them.
    3. Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series. Read them in late childhood, early teens. Loved Loved Loved them.
    4. Kira Kira. A beautiful story of sisters and being a stranger in a foreign land.
    5. Jurassic Park. It made me want to be a paleotologist.
    I didn't really read a lot of kiddie books as a kid. I liked the older children books. Didn't really read much Dr. Seuss and the like.

    1. HAPPY BIRTHDAY STEPH!!!!! I hope you had a GREAATTTTT TIME! xoxo

    2. Thanks, Shalaka! It was good. I had to go to classes and work, but I made time to celebrate a bit! xoxo

    3. Happy birthday, Steph!! So glad to hear you could celebrate amongst all the work and schoolwork! xoxo

    4. Thank you Margo! :)

      Thanks so much, Barbara! xoxo

    5. Steph!!! Happy Birthday!!!

    6. Thanks so much, Dawn and Rigel!!!!!


  26. 1. The Little House series. Or as my dad called them, "Pa is the worst dad ever."
    2. To Kill a Mockingbird. One of the first "grown-up" books my dad read aloud to my sister and I. Also, on Parent Reading Day at my elementary school, instead of bringing a children's book, my dad read the chapter depictin Scout's first day at school.
    3. This book of Bible stories. I don't remember the name, but I remember the story of Jesus healing a blind man starting with "Poor Bartimaeus. His eyes were sick."
    4. The Philharmonic Gets Dressed.
    5. Just about anything by Tomie DePaola.

  27. 1. Watership Down - must've read it about 15 times now
    2. Anything adventurous by Enid Blyton
    3. Fire Bringer by David Clement-Davies - it's Watership Down, only set in ancient Scotland...with Deer! Richard Adams calls it: "'one of the best anthropomorphic fantasies known to me" and I couldn't agree more.
    4. The Brothers Lionheart by Astrid Lindgren - brilliant fantasy story about two brothers who die and meet again in a sort of 'fairytale-like' afterworld. Such a moving story, full of heart.
    5. "De Avonturen van Polletje Wol" - A little Dutch book about a dog who is a bit naughty, gets shrunk(en?) by a good fairy and is then found by a gnome who takes him to live with him in his toadstool. So cute :-)

    Oh and some more recent children's books I love - even though well into adulthood by now: The Story of the Little Mole Who Knew it Was None of His Business, Guess How Much I Love You, Horrible Histories, Artemis Fowl, Brian Jacques' "Redwall" series.


    1. More great lists! Margo, even though I haven't read any of your "recent" list, I have to say I give them major points for excellent titles! (actually kids' books often have that gift, don't they?)

  28. There are so many books I remember loving as a child. Where to begin?

    1. Anything by Dr. Seuss

    2. The House at Pooh Corner

    3. Any of the Berenstain Bears

    4. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

    5. Alligators All Around

  29. Is it weird that I never read the Berenstain Bears??? Are they after my time? My kids'??? Great lists, everyone!!!


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