Sunday, July 04, 2010

Favorite Books from my Childhood


It's that time of the year here in Arizona when the temperature rises to the 110's.  On the weekends I become vampire-like and try to go out only after the sun has gone down when the temps are hovering in the high 90's!  And since this is a very loooong weekend, thanks to the Fourth of July, I'll be hunkered down at home painting, drawing and blogging...
 
I was browsing through the children's book section of a local bookstore the other day when I began thinking about the books that I remember fondly from my childhood and have subconsciously contributed to my desire to be a children's book illustrator.  Some are still in print, others I remember have definitely gone out of print, as I've discovered online.  As a child I was a voracious reader and my friends and I would have contests to see who could read the most number of books in a month.  I don't recall ever winning these contests, but I enjoyed the challenge.  Somewhere in my parents' home is a big stash of paperback books published by Dell and Camelot in the 70's, and books by Scholastic that we use to order from school.  The most memorable ones I've held onto before it disappeared into the big black hole of storage.  I'll introduce a few here.

The Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear book is the first English-language book I've ever owned.  My mother bought this board book for me shortly after we first moved to this country from Japan when I was 5 years old.  The three-dimensional illustrations are just adorable, and were done by Tadasu Izawa.  I didn't realize until I was much older, that the illustrator was Japanese as well!  Obviously, when it was purchased neither my mother nor I could read English.  We just liked the way it looked. I've held onto it dearly ever since.

The second book is that all-time classic, Winnie-the-Pooh.  Another book about a bear ....hmmmmm....  Yes, I did have quite a large teddy bear collection at the time, and did until maybe about a decade ago.  As you can see from the cover, this was back when you could still buy a paperback book for under a dollar!  The Pooh books inspired me to write and illustrate my own stories as a child, an activity that I apparently have not outgrown!

About the same time, I read Stuart Little, by E.B. White.  The tale of the mouse-boy was most memorable to me for its illustrations by Garth Williams.  I've written about Garth Williams in other posts on this blog, mainly in this post.  Stuart Little has been made into a movie, but I haven't seen it.  I'm afraid that it will ruin my nice, warm, fuzzy memories of the book.


The last book is The Mouse and His Child by Russell Hoban.  This is one of those books that stays with you for a long time after reading.  It's not your typical children's book -- it contains many adult themes and some violence.  But I think that's what I liked about it, that life isn't always happy or tidy, and sometimes you have to endure a lot of hardship to get where you want to be.  I'm going to reread it soon.  At one time it went out of print, but in 2001 it was re-released by Arthur A. Levine Books.  This is what the current version of it looks like.

There are way too many other books that I love, and not enough space here to write about them.  But there are 2 others I want to mention, and wish that I had my old copies of them with me.  They are both similar in tone to The Mouse and His Child.  They are A Wrinkle in Time and Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH.  All three of these have been made into films, but I haven't seen any of them, for the same reason I don't want to see Stuart Little.  Besides, I already have the movie versions in my head. 

5 comments:

Amanda Crawford said...

Megumi, great post! I'm with you re. not wanting to see movie versions of beloved books- they're just never 'right'. I never read 'The Mouse and his child', although I read the 'Frances' books by Russell Hoban- I'll have to check it out. My favourites include: the Edward Eager 'magic' books (Half Magic, Magic by the Lake, etc., William Pene du Bois' books, Roald Dahl (all, Roald Dahl is incredible!) & the White Mountain series (sci-fi for kids by John Christopher). Hope you're staying cool!

Goomie said...

Thanks Amanda! Yes, Roald Dahl is incredible! I'll have to check out the others that I'm not familiar with... some books for all the time I'll be staying indoors in the summer!

Melanie Linden Chan said...

Funnily enough, "A Mouse and His Child," "The Secret of Nimh," and "Winnie the Pooh," were all favorites of mine as well when I was little...however, I've only read "Winnie the Pooh." The other two were favorite movies!

I hadn't realized they started as books. Now I want to read them! Thanks!

Goomie said...

Melanie, you have good taste! :)
You will not be disappointed by the books, they are classics. Happy reading!

Missy said...

That teddy bear book looks adorable and Winnie the Pooh has always been one of my favorites. I remeber reading A Wrinkle in Time in 6th grade and Mrs. Frisby still makes me cry. Good books.