Sunday, August 24, 2008

Memories of Books Well-Loved--I

As I have straightened shelves in preparation for the start of school (which, as you know, is right around the corner) I have also been taking a trip down memory lane. Some books have that effect on me. They are friends and ties to friends. Here are stories about some of the books that I have handled in the past few days that brought back memories of reading them when I was a child, eons ago.

During my first months as the school librarian, I tried very hard to be really prepared for every class. (I still do, but I am a little easier on myself when plans change.) One day, however, I got caught up doing something and did not grab a book to read to the first grade until just minutes before they arrived. There waiting on the shelf was Andy and the Lion by James Daugherty. I remembered the black and gold illustrations and the story so I did not bother re-reading--I didn't have time!! The kids came in, sat down, and I opened the book to read. I was doing fine until I came to the picture of Andy discovering the tail of the lion wiggling behind a rock. I was suddenly taken right back to the first time I read the story. I had to stop for a minute to catch my breath and take myself back to the library. Books are like that. They stick with you long after you think that you have forgotten them.

When I was five or six I loved how my copy of Babar by Jean de Brunhoff was written in script rather than print like most books. It meant it had to be read to me longer so that was an added bonus, but the best part was when I figured out how to read that secret language. In my family we (or at least my husband and I) still honor the street cleaner in the Babar books by calling every street cleaner Hatcibombitor--or however that wonderful name is spelled.

"In two straight lines." Those four words immediately conjure images of Paris and the nuns and sweet Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans.

My favorite Dr. Seuss book when I was young was surely the under appreciated On Beyond Zebra. It was a thrill to imagine new letters that I could add to the alphabet and expand the world even farther.

The Lonely Doll by Dare Wright has just been reissued. I was thrilled to recently find it in a group of books donated to our library in like-new condition. The black and white photos that illustrate this gentle little book of a doll who finds a friend has always appealed to me. I hope that it does not seem outdated to the current generation of young readers.

Little Golden Books were the kind of books that my parents would buy for us. Even thought they were so inexpensive, they had some great stories. My favorite was The Saggy Baggy Elephant by Kathryn Jackson, probably because I loved the image of an elephant of any size dancing through the jungle.

There are many more picture books that I loved and that shaped my life. This list represents ones that I read as a child that are on the shelves of the Emerson library today.

Read my next post to learn about novels that fall into that same category of books I loved as a child and hope you will love, too.

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