Saturday, May 12, 2018

My Blog's Name in Childhood Favorites

Desperate Reader spelled out the name of her blog from her collection of Virago Modern Classics and Simon from Stuck in a Book used books from his TBR but I thought I would do it from some of my favorite children's books:

S - I started reading Edward Eager at my elementary school library.  It's hard to pick a favorite but Seven Day Magic could be it, with a great first sentence, "The best kind of book," said Barnaby, "is a magic book."
T - Looking inside this book I see it actually has a bookplate with my sister Andrea's name!  Sorry, Sissy, do you want it back?  I worry that the Green Knowe books are too tame for children brought up on Harry Potter.  A librarian in Mt. Vernon, NY (while I was visiting an aunt who brought me to her library) introduced me to the series.  This is book 2, which made a huge impression on me: to recover lost treasure, a character is commanded to sew a picture of Green Knowe using hair from everyone present when the jewels were stolen.
A- Katie Rose Belford, heroine of this series, is not as well known as Lenora Mattingly Weber's Beany Malone but I think about her a lot because she has such memorable flaws: she hates wearing hand me down clothes, terrified that the donor will see her and recognize the garment; she longs for slice and bake cookies instead of the cracked eggs her relatives bring from the farm; and she yearns for handsome Bruce (although Miguel is worth a dozen of him).
I - I love Barbara Willard's Mantlemass series!  Willard does not shy away from harsh realities of history - this is a bleak orphan story in which orphaned 15 year old Lilias suddenly has to find her own way in the world and there is no easy happy ever after in 16th century England.   I consider this the fifth book in the series.
R - Ruth M. Arthur is another beloved English author, best known for her very scary A Candle in Her Room, which is almost too unnerving for a reread!  Requiem for a Princess is about a girl who feels lost after learning she is adopted.  Ravel's Pavane for a Dead Infanta and the long ago story of a Spanish girl shipwrecked in Cornwall help Willow mature and recognize how much her family loves her.  Artist Margery Gill is another favorite.

C -  I received The Book of Three on my tenth birthday, and for a long time that was the only one I owned.  Then I found this beautiful set in 1999 at Barnes & Noble.  The Castle of Llyr (book 3) is about Eilonwy facing, as Lloyd Alexander says, the ordeal of becoming a princess.  I met him very briefly at Books of Wonder and amazingly this is the book he signed for me.  He was exactly like Fflewddur Fflam and it was such thrill to talk to him!

A - The All of a Kind Family series is another I started reading at the John Ward School.  Much of what I knew about Judaism as a child came from these books, set on the Lower East Side about an affectionate family that lived frugally but managed to make everything fun, from dusting to midnight snacks to borrowing your sister's dress (don't try this at home!).  Like Betsy-Tacy, these stories were based on the author's life, and I remember how thrilled I was to learn my (now deceased) friend Rachel Rose had met Sydney Taylor at summer camp!
SSwallows and Amazons is one of many series to which I was introduced by my mother.  It is about four children who are allowed to go camping alone in the Lake District - and yes, it's surprising how much I enjoyed the adventures of these intrepid sailors and campers when I don't even like being outside!  Even their picnics sounded appealing (chicken, gooseberry tarts, and pemmican) although I would not have liked the freshly caught fish!
E - I also found the Flambards series in the John Ward School.  Christina Russell is yet another intrepid orphan I found at the library.  When she goes to live at Flambards (which is the first book), she is introduced to hunting, which is her uncle and cousin Mark's passion.   In The Edge of the Cloud, she has gone to London with her cousin Will, who is obsessed with airplanes.  Note the wonderful Victor Ambrus cover.

W - You didn't think I could do a whole list without a Betsy-Tacy book, did you?  Unlike many BT fans, I read Winona's Pony Cart as a child because my grandmother's library in Chappaqua had a copy and I liked it.  While it does not have as much substance as Maud Hart Lovelace's other books, she does capture a child's preoccupation with birthdays (and with some parents' determination to invite the friends they want their child to have and not the actual friends).

I - Janet Lambert is best known for her series about Penny Parrish, older daughter in an army family who aspires to be an actress.  My fascination with the military began at Fort Arden when Penny and her family were stationed there and continued to West Point and Governor's Island.   I read everything I could about the U.S. Military Academy!   Introducing Parri is about her daughter, and was one of the first Scholastic Books I ever purchased.  Perhaps because they were so hard to find, I was obsessed with Janet Lambert, leading to some unorthodox acquisitions.
TTheatre Shoes is not as well known as Noel Streatfeild's Ballet Shoes (although Pauline, Petrova, and Posy make cameos) but nearly as much fun, and a recent reread revealed an interesting look at life in London against the background of WWII.  Sorrel, Mark, and Holly go to live with their grandmother when their naval officer father goes missing, and learn they are part of a well known theatrical family and may have talent themselves!
I will properly review Theater Shoes later in the year!   This is my actual library copy from childhood - fortunately, it was discarded when I happened to be passing through...  Also, it was accidental but for those who thought I only read English books growing up, the books above are well balanced: six American authors and six British authors.


Desperate Reader said...

It's fun re visiting books isn't it!

Karen K. said...

Great post! I never thought of my childhood favorites when working on this meme. . . I've sadly only read one from this list, The All-of-a-Kind Family series which was one of my favorites as well. Such a wonderful family story! I guess my local library just didn't have much British fiction, though I think they had the Lloyd Alexander series and some of the Shoes books. Sadly my passion for British writers didn't start until much later so I didn't read any of these.

helen said...

This is lovely!

I have never read any Edward Eager and never heard of Ruth Arthur and now I feel I must rectify this immediately!