Sunday, 10 February 2008

Do You Remember The First Time?

Can you remember the the first book you ever read, or ever had read to you? No? Me neither. I do remember the little beauty, pictured, which my mother used to loan from the local library and was the staple of many happy pre-school bedtime stories. It's the story of the eponymous Henry, his dog, Laird Angus McAngus, and their adventures aroung the snowy town in which they live. It covers caves and bears and general adventure in about two hundred words and a lot of big pictures. Left is a photo of my copy of the book. Not the one from my childhood, but one I liberated (bought off the internet) from the Shoreline library in Seattle. Innit funny how some things stay with you? Isn't it great that you can track them down and buy them from wherever they are lying forgotten in the world?

As I grew older my tastes followed the traditional routes and I fell in love with Enid Blyton's Famous Five and Secret Seven books. My favourites of hers were the Adventure series. Island of Adventure.. Castle of Adventure.. with Jack and Lucy Ann and Pip and Dinah and Kiki the Parrot. All highly unlikely, but great fun. When I'd done reading all these several times over, I raided my sister's collection of Mallory Towers and St Clare's girls-school adventures. (I wonder if J.K. Rowling read those...?).

I understand films have been made of a couple of my childhood choices. The Secret of Skelton Island which is a tale from my all time fave Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators series. Also The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper, which by all accounts is a bit of a stinker.

There have been some successes is turning the books of my childhood into films. I was a huge fan of the books of S.E. Hinton. All three of her American gang books (That Was Then, This is Now; The Outsiders; Rumblefish) have been filmed. With Rumblefish accorded cult classic status.

Anyone remember reading any of these? Anyone got any other favourites*?

*some more..
The Silver Sword by Ian Serraillier
Tom's Midnight Garden by Phillipa Pearce
Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome
Carrie's War by Nina Bawden
Charlie and The Chocolate Factory, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, Penningtons Seventeenth Summer, Marianne Dreams.....


Beth said...

Children's books!!!!
Now you're talking ... I read Enid Blyton quite selectively: Famous Five and the Mallory Towers/St Claires series - yes. Secret Seven? Never!

I can't remember if I'd read 'Carrie's War' before it was on the telly, but it made a very big impression on me - and thinking about Alan Garner's 'Owl Service' still makes me shiver. Oh and 'Elidor' too ... you've got me started now ...

Orlando the Marmalade Cat was one of the first series of books I remember borrowing from the library over & over. Then there were The Borrowers, Chalet School books, Dr Dolittle, Leon Garfield's creepy 'Victorian' stories..oooh and 'The Wolves Of Willoughby Chase' I loved one that till it fell apart!

I still have, or have re-acquired quite a few of them.

Planet Mondo said...

Do the Ladybird books count? With those superrealistic illustrations that made the Nursery Ryhmes seem creepy

Earliest ones were..
Enid Blyton - Book of Brownies (starring Hop, Skip and Jump)

Topsy and Tim's Snowy Day and T and T's Weekend Book (where Uncle Frank stops at a cafe for a cuppa and a gasper)

Roald Dahl Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and all of the rest after that

The Narnia series starting with the Magicians Nephew.

Children of Green Knowe,
The Moomins, Bottersnikes and Gumbles..

Any I've lost have been replaced through the magic of Ebay.

BPP said...

I used to read Razzle as a boy. Then my uncle told me Club International was a damn-sight classier, so I switched to that. One of my happiest childhood memories is thrashing away looking at photos of a bird called Charlie, who was dressed up in jodphurs, riding boots and a hat. Christ Almighty, those were the days. Nowadays kids can watch all manner of dirty things thanks to the internet - those halcyon days abusing m'self whilst looking up Charlie's clopper seem so innocent now.

Was that what you were after?

Five-Centres said...

I was a prodigious reader as a child. All the Secret Sevens and Famous Fives, Roald Dahl, Spike Milligan stuff - Milliganimals especially, Flat Stanley, the Little House books (saw me through a lengthy post-op recovery period), The Borrowers books, and a huge craze on an illustrated Bible I had.

But my real fave was a book called the Family From One End Street. Not sure who it was by, but they were poor and they was happy.

BPP said...

Forum was a good 'un. And Escort. I remember a mate brought a dog-eared copy of Private into school once. Ye Gods! That sucker didn't half open your eyes to a wider world.

Valentine Suicide said...

Someone else remembers Flat Stanley?
Hooooray! I can't remember why he was flat though..?

Forum was rubbish, BPP. It was only crappy letters. Experience was loads better..

Beth said...

FC - It was Eve Garnett! I got it for Christmas (this Christmas) they was poor, but they was 'appy alright.

I loved the 'Little House' books too - and - just come back to me 'Fuzzypeg the Hedgehog'. Anyone remember Fuzzypeg The Hedgehog?

Anonymous said...

First book I can remember reading was called The Collywobbles, and was about some people who lived, if I remember rightly, in your stomach.

When I was a little older than that, I was obsessed with the books about the pirates Gregory the Green, Roderick the Red, and Benjamin the Blue.

Older still and it was The Phantom Tollbooth, The Moomins, Bobby Brewster and Catweazle, and then the Ghost of Thomas Kempe, Carrie's War and then the Tripods books, John Wyndham and war comics where you could tell the nationality of the dying by the noises they made.

Hello, by the way.

Valentine Suicide said...

Fuzzypeg the Hedgehog? Isn't that a Super Furrry Animals album, Beth.

I've just remembered som Sci-Fi books called Danny Dunn or some somesuch? Anyone remember them?

Hello Iain. I remember Catweazle more for the tv show. (Lord, for some reson I've just had a Lizzie Dripping flashback). I read The Phantom Tollbooth and have a vague recollection of a (semi) animated film version. I love John Wyndham to this day...

Clair said...

The Family From One End Street is my sister's favourite book (those beautiful, scratchy illustrations!). I like poor - and old-fashioned - but happy,too, which is why I loved Milly Molly Mandy and the Little Grey Rabbit books (of which Fuzzypeg is one. I never did Blyton, but cue random list.
Bottersnikes and Gumbles
Ballet Shoes
The Secret Garden
No Roses For Harry - top pic book about a dog who didn't want to wear a knitted jumper
The Tiger Who Came To Tea
The Moomins
Alice In Wonderland
The Changes
The Armada Book of Jokes
Blue Peter travelogues with Val Singleton

I wish I was seven again...

BPP said...

Was it? Maybe I'm thinking of Fiesta, then? All glorious childhood memories anyway, whatever the correct title. Thanks for reminding me to take a trip down memory lane to my young life surrounded by softcore pornography. It brings a tear to my eye thinking of all those arses from the past.

Jack said...

I don't remember the first book I ever read but I do remember the first book I ever chose for myself: Stories for Seven Year Olds.

It featured the tale of a princess cursed with baldness by a malevolent fairy carelessly omitted from her christening party guest list. When she grows up a good fairy grants her wish for hair long and thick and so endless that it grows twice as thick every time it is cut; eventually she ends up packed immovably in the middle of her bedroom by her own hair.

The first time I ever heard to be careful what you wish for, that.

Matthew Rudd said...

I remember reading a one-off Blyton book called The Secret Island, about three siblings living with a wicked aunt and uncle who run off to live on a private island with a local homeless pal. That was a great story.

There was also one about a bullying brother whose little sister changed into a big sister who turned the tables, thereby stopping his bullying and making him learn his lesson when his little sister came back.

Anyone remember a series of books about coloured objects which come to life? The Little Copper Kettle, The Little Yellow Duster, The Little Green Hat . . .

Cocktails said...

Hello, I pop into your site everynow and again, but absolutely could not resist commenting on this one.

I read voraciously as a child and plowed my way through most of the books people have mentioned here - happy memories.

I particularly liked Richard Scarry's books and later, read everything that I could possibly find by Noel Streatfield and John Christopher. But what I really want to get a copy of again is Flat Stanley!!! I can't remember why he was flat either and it's really bugging me...

Valentine Suicide said...

Was it a steamroller related incident? I think it may have been....

Valentine Suicide said...

No! Research tells me it was a bulletin board accident. So be careful out there..

Cocktails said...

A bulletin board accident? No! Well, my memory seems to have erased that one...

Ishouldbeworking said...

I was a complete bookworm as a child, right down to reading under my blankets with a torch. I loved the Brer Rabbit books (and read almost all the Enid Blyton stuff; it gave me a chip on my shoulder about not being posh, but otherwise didn't harm me too much).

My all time favourites were, and remain, Tove Jansson's Moomin Books, which regularly get dusted down and re-read, and Richmal Crompton's 'Just William' books, which made me want to be a boy because they got up to the best mischief.

I also loved 'Carrie's War' and 'Thursday's Child' (which had great Dickensian Orphan content), plus some of Nina Bawden's books like 'The Runaway Summer.There was also an eerie one set in Norfolk called 'When Marnie Was There' that I re-read endlessly. Also 'The Secret Garden' (spot the common theme of awkward, difficult girl protagonist and figure out why I gravitated towards THOSE.).

'The Silver Sword' rings a huge bell, but i can't remember anything about it...a clue?

Oh, and around age ten there were my sister's four 'Forum' magazines, with her copy of 'Delta of Venus, found by me' while rummaging under her mattress. it may have been 'only crappy letters' but I still remember some of them word-for-word.

I so hope today's kids get as warmly nostalgic about their favourite computer games, when they look back in later years.

Valentine Suicide said...

The Silver Sword was about the seperation of three children from their parents in 1940 Warsaw and their quest to be re-united...Powerful stuff. I must track down a copy...

Forum WAS crappy letters. Some of OUR magazines had actual knockers in them. Bristols also.

More info on Flat Stanley can be found here.
As it's Wikipedia, I've cross-checked for accuracy. You never know, some Uber-cyber-terrorists may have decided to subvert The West by changing a perfectly acceptable Steamroller incident to a far more sinister bulletin-board accident.

Roman Empress said...

I used to get Mum to read Rapunzel to me over and over and over again. I think it's sad children don't go in so much for fairytales so much now. Bluebeard is my fave. It's all there, trangressions, misognyny, gore. Brilliant.