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Weekly Geeks #3 – Children’s Books

Weekly Geeks #3 – Children’s Books

I didn’t participate in last week’s Weekly Geeks (to provide links to other book reviews of books I’ve reviewed) because of the time issue. Right now, I’m up to my eyeballs in work and volunteering and I’m afraid to commit to something so time consuming. That said, I will re-consider doing this when my life gets back to normal (maybe in the fall!).

So, this week Dewey writes:

This week’s theme comes from Samantha, who suggested that one week we all write about our fond memories of childhood books. You could approach this several ways. I’ll probably list my favorite childhood books with maybe a paragraph about each book: why I loved it, how old I was when I read it, where I got the book, etc. You could also just pick one childhood favorite and review it as you would any other book. Or, if you’re fast, you could make up a meme other weekly geeks might like to use. (Edit: Beastmama came up with a meme you could use.) It’ll be interesting to see how everyone personalizes this theme.

I remember my childhood as being filled with books. Almost every week my mother took me to the library to borrow books, and it seems I received books for every Christmas and birthday. I had many favorites. My earliest years were filled with Dr. Seuss (recently I re-read two of my favorites and reviewed them here), and Barbar the Elephant. But it is the early chapter books which I remember with the most clarity…so it is these I will talk about here.

Mary Norton’s The Borrowers and all the sequels which followed were my favorites. I re-read them many, many times…and recently purchased the 50th Anniversary volume for my library. I sank right back into my youth as I re-read it. You can read my review here.

If you have never read Louise Fithugh’s wonderful Harriet the Spy series, you are missing some real fun. I adored Harriet – and I spent about a year prowling around my neighborhood spying on the neighbors doing their gardening, or washing their cars, petting their dogs…and jotting down notes about their mundane activities. As a writer, Harriet captured my imagination at a very young age.

Is there anyone in their 40’s who has not read the Nancy Drew series? I adored these books and at one time had the entire collection. A couple of years ago I attacked my parent’s attic looking for the box containing them to no avail. My mother thinks she might have sold them in a yard sale (gasp!)…so I’m on the look out to replace them someday. I remember curling up beneath my covers with a flashlight reading long into the night and scaring myself with these fabulous mysteries.

E.B. White is a genius of children’s literature – and I re-read Charlotte’s Web and Stuart Little until their pages were torn and dirty. Any book whose hero was an animal got my attention and kept it. Recently I’ve been reading White’s fabulous essays which I’ve written about in my Sunday Salon posts here and here. Just goes to show you, a great writer can write anything!

And finally, who can forget The Little House on the Prairie, by Laura Ingalls Wilder? I adored this book and the series of books which followed (although I cried when the dog died!). And later, when the television series was born, I watched every episode.

I’m sure I am missing some of the great books I read as a child…but these were definitely my favorites. What were yours?


  1. May 16, 2008    

    I loved Nancy Drew too (I’m 41). I was given a big box of them by our babysitter and they were the first chapter books I ever read. Certain words & phrases to this day remind me of Nancy Drew. I mean, who else in the world has titian colored hair? 🙂

  2. May 16, 2008    

    Oh, Barbar the Elephant. I’d forgotten all about him, but now I remember frequently bringing Barbar books home fromt he library. This has been such a great meme this week, with everyone’s posts bringing back so many memories.

  3. May 17, 2008    

    Julie: LOL – I know what you mean…and I can remember most of the titles too. Just writing about them here has made me want to re-read them!

    Kerry: I have really enjoyed reading the Geek posts on childhood books – so much fun!

  4. May 17, 2008    

    Certain scenes are still vivid, too. I remember one where Nancy’s trapped in an airplane. Her hands are tied behind her back but she manages to get her lipstick out of her purse. She uses it to write SOS on the window — backwards, no less, so that from the outside it will read properly — and then closes the curtain over it, so that the bad guys won’t see what she did. This is why I always carry lipstick in my purse. Because you never know…

  5. May 17, 2008    

    OK I have to admit to not having read Nancy Drew, but then she isn’t as well known in the UK as she is in the US. I did love the ‘Harriet’ books, however, and as for ‘Charlotte’s Web’ is there any greater book for children out there? I doubt it.

  6. May 18, 2008    

    It is interesting that this theme for Weekly Geeks coincides with me going through all of my books from when I was younger. I am trying to decide if I want to hold on to all of them (I have four big containers of them) and a lot of people’s favourite books are in them! It is making it hard to get rid of anything, to be honest. People are such bad influences, even if they are not trying to be. haha

  7. May 18, 2008    

    Julie: LOL- that Nancy, she was so prepared for ANYTHING, wasn’t she?!?

    Ann: No, there is no greater children’s book that Charlotte’s Web – I completely agree!

    Kailana: I know what you mean…just writing about these books made me yearn to own them again (and be dismayed that my mom got rid of boxes and boxes of them!)

  8. May 19, 2008    

    Darn, I forgot all about “The Borrowers” or I would’ve put it in my post! Those books were magical.

  9. May 20, 2008    

    Chartroose: I agree – I was again swept away, just like in childhood, when I recently re-read The Borrowers.

  10. May 22, 2008    

    Arg, how could I have forgotten the Borrowers??? I love them! My family still blames them when things go missing, over 20 years later. And also wonderful Harriet – I read that one over and over. I even tried keeping a spy notebook for a while.

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