Sunday, May 20, 2007

Sunday Afternoon Tea

I was sitting at a table near the window at Panera Saturday evening, nibbling slices of an orange scone and sipping coffee (half hazelnut/half decaf/lots of cream)...waiting for my son to show up at our arranged time...thinking of various books (what else?).

Not just any books but truly delightful children's literature. that would make a great subject for Sunday Afternoon Tea. Have we chatted about that on Sunday? I don't think so...big smile. There's a favorite scene where the Meg Ryan character in You've Got Mail is talking about children's books and how how important they are. We become what we read as children (and in our youth). So true...

So, why was I at a coffee shop watching the people walk by and thinking of children's literature? Well, I've been making out the list of books I want to read this summer and I've decided to once again add a few favorite "young people" books to reread. First on my list is at least one of the Time Quartet books. Most likely A Wrinkle in Time. I first read these books as an adult and loved them (especially the first two). My daughter had been recommending them to me for years. To me a good book is one that keeps coming to mind and I often think of scenes from the first two "Time" books.

I'm still deciding between a few other favorites: Little Women, a couple of the Anne of Green Gables series, or perhaps Misty of Chincoteague (which I recently purchased at a thrift store and I've never read). There are a few books my son has recommended from his homeschool reading that I haven't read yet, either: Carry On Mr. Bowditch, the little book called Mr. Popper's Penguins, and The Scarlet Pimpernel (more of a high school read, which was the play they recently performed). I'm not up to his favorite French literature in the warm weather months.

Last summer I reread The Wind in the Willows and a couple Narnia books, and a Little House book. For some reason, I'd never read The Magician's Nephew. How did that happen? I absolutely loved it! I purchased a hardback copy of Ben & Me at a library sale. It has been sitting on a box in the garage, as if to tell me to pick it up and reread it before packing it with the other books waiting for new shelving. If you've never read it, it is the epitome of revisionist history. :)

I may actually purchase a couple Patricia St. John books while they're still available in paperback. They came recommended in a few of Edith Schaeffer's books and at one time were out of print. Fortunately, they came back into print when my daughter was at the age she would enjoy them. If I remember, her favorite was Treasures of the Snow .

I not only love children's literature but I'm a big fan of picture books. If I had more money and more bookshelves, I could easily become a collector of children's picture books. I still love to browse that area of a bookstore (which is how I found that delightful book I purchased for my grandson). I remember trying to convince my mother (a non-reader ) that my daughter's favorite illustrator was Tasha Tudor, when Stephanie was but a toddler. Mom scoffed at the idea but I knew when I opened a Tasha book,Steph would linger over it as if she were memorizing each page.

One of my son's favorite books was one that had all pictures and no words called Mouse Around. It was a delightful book with beautiful pictures that show a story but doesn't actually script, my husband would make up great story lines when reading it to our son. I've seen it used on Amazon off and on.

I've mentioned before that between the place settings for my husband and I at our daughter's wedding reception, the words to Goodnight Moon were encased in a silver frame. I think her dad must have read that book a few thousand times in her preschool years. I know he had it memorized because he once "read" it to her while driving from Holland to my hometown for a short vacation (sans book, of course). That frame now rests on top of his dresser. :)

As for me, I can still quote from my favorite toddler book which I read to each child..."I am a bunny. My name is Nicholas. I live in a hollow tree". The Richard Scarry illustrations alone make kids love I Am a Bunny. The absolute best gift for toddlers!

Then there are the Bible story books. I didn't grow up having Bible stories read to me but I knew the biggies, they were such a part of our culture in the 50s. As a parent, I was rather picky about which illustrator and author I purchased and how they "translated" my favorite stories into kid's languages. After all, we're talking the Good Book here...and Truth. However, I believe my favorite for nostalgic reasons will always be Francis Hook because I remember as a new Christian, it was those the Francis Hook pictures that were hanging in the small Christian bookstore in town. :)

I cannot begin to name all the books read during this season of life. So...I am looking forward to hearing about your favorites, for I believe our passion runs deep for the literature we remember...of our childhood and youth, as well as that we read over and over to our own children.

I just may have to look through used bookstores for a copy of The Hidden Staircase and pretend it is the early 1960s and I'm reading under the covers late at night with a flashlight to see how fast Nancy catches the villain.


Sabine said...

I think my favourite Nancy Drew book was Password to Larkspur Lane (*shiver*). I recently watched an old black and white movie of it. What fun!

When they were little girls, my children especially loved Baby Dear by Eloise Wilkins. Now my grandchildren love it, especially 2.5 year old Evy, who is a little doll mother like her Mom was. Evy "reads" it to her dollies. When Amy was a child I drocheted and knitted a pink and white bonnet, jacket and leggings for her doll, my best attempt to copy the outfit the doll has on in the book. She still has the doll dressed in the outfit. I love the illustrations of the interior of the home the family lives in.

Richard Scarry books were a big hit, too. We had I am a Bunny, too.

And, speaking of bunnies, another favourite was Little Bunny Follows His Nose. It's a "Scratch 'n Sniff" book that was scratched and sniffed to death. I recently bought copies for my grandchildren. The quality of the smelly stickers isn't as good, but they love it anyway.

My favourite children's book, as an adult, is currently Miss Fannie's Hat by Jan Karon. Miss Fannie is a tiny, elderly lady with a collection of hats. She is looked after by her daughter, Miss Wanda, who washes her mother's hair in the sink and sets it with curlers, which "are real hard to sleep in, but Miss Fannie doesn't care one bit. She knows that when she goes to church the next day, she will look beautiful". Miss Fannie wants to give one of her hats to the church auction but it is a hard decision, since each hat brings back special memories.

Anonymous said...

Let's see.
My first books I remember reading were about a little girl named Betsey who had a policeman for a friend. There were several and I loved them but I can't remember anything else. I was about 10 so I must have found them at my school library.
The next ones were Nancy Drews. My mom started buying them for me for Christmas and my birthday. I owned dozens of them. I would lay on my bed on lazy Saturdays and read one while eating fudgcicles. (sp?)
Next came the Little House books. I found "Little House in the Big Woods" at the school library. I don't know how many times I've read the series, even as an adult. I'm currently reading them to my dd's who are 8 and 9.
Next came the Anne books. My mom bought me a copy of "Anne of Green Gables" when I was about 11 for Christmas-11 or 12. I started reading it but didn't get far-it was too difficult and not interesting. (!!) I tried again about a year later and was hooked. I still have the paperback series I bought with my own money, one by one. I don't know how many times I've read them but not as many as the Little House series.
I didn't read any other children's classics that I can remember-I don't recall knowing of any. As an adult, I am reading them now. :)
A couple of springs ago, I read "The Secret Garden." Loved it. I bought my own copy. :) Then I bought "The Little Princess."
Oh, how could I forget? Of course I read "Little Women" and "Heidi."
Brenda, I had this year set aside for rereading all of the Anne books. I began the first one but haven't finished it yet. I'm so behind!
Fun post. Perfect conversation for a Sunday afternoon tea. :)

Anonymous said...

I still have my worn copy of "Ballet Shoes" by Noel Streatfeild. I also like to re-read L.M.Montgomery books, Little Women & Laura Ingalls Wilder books.

Sherry said...

I think the Betsy book you're talking about were the ones by Carolyn Haywood. I love those books.

I have so many more favorites that I wouldn't know where to begin or where to end. Tomorrow my blog post at Semicolon features Arnold Lobel, he of Frog and Toad fame. Just one of many, many favorites.

G.L.H. said...

Oh, what a wonderful post! It brought back smiles as you mentioned some of the books, and "oh, I need to read that one soon!" for the ones I missed in childhood.

I try to read a couple of the Nancy Drews and a couple of '50's teen romances every summer. These I share with my grown daughters.

Thanks so much for sharing!

Bethanie said...

My favorite "Time" book is Many Waters.