February 8th, 2012

Favorite Books of My Childhood:

'The Folk of the Faraway Tree' by Enid Blyton
and anything else by Blyton that I could get my hands on (such as ‘Famous 5’, ‘Mr Pinkwhistle’ and ‘The Wishing Chair’).
I remember when I was about seven years old, mum took me to ‘Hard to Find’ bookshop in Onehunga for the purpose of buying me some Enid Blyton classics. She had also been a fan as a child. Mr Pinkwhistle was my first taste of Blyton’s magical stories and I was hooked.
The particular edition of the ‘Faraway Tree’ in the image above is of a book that I read and reread. It was full of beautiful illustrations and was so large you could only hold it with two hands. Who could forget Moonface and Silky, the Saucepan Man and the ever fruiting tree which lead up to a million and one lands at the tip top branch…. think a land where everything is edible, the land of ice and snow, the land of giants and the land of Dame Slap!!! 

It only follows that I also love the complete works of Roald Dahl. A particular favorite was ‘George’s Marvelous Medicine’, which is a story about a young boy who makes a potion like concoction of all the ingredients he can find in his house, as a substitute for his horrible grandmother’s medicine.
And of course, who didn’t love reading ‘The BFG’. I remember both stories being read to the class at primary school… why did english have to get so boring and serious and highschool??

I also devoured all the books in the ‘Redwall’ series by Brian Jaques. My favorite book being ‘Mattimeo’. What is it about children that they love books where animals are the main characters? Well, I was certainly one of these kids.
The Redwall series is about mice, moles, badgers etc set in a Medieval landscape where they are fighting evil, seeking treasure/revenge etc. If you wanted a fast paced and engrossing adventure, these were the books to read. They kind of remind me of Harry Potter in their intensity.

So I loved a good dose of fantasy and magic but I also had a taste for the romantic and perhaps more mundane…

'Anne of Green Gables' by L.M. Montgomery was a particular favorite. I think, for the first time, I really related to a character in the book (Anne) and found myself caught up in her story. Anne is an orphan who comes to live with an old couple on Prince Edward Island, Canada. She is imaginative and often alone, creating worlds in her head. This story is about her trials and triumphs, her friendships (Diana) and nemesis/love interest (Gilbert). I think 'Anne of the Island' was my favorite installment and my interest waned after Anne had her 'millionth' child.

To finish, I also loved anything I could get my hands on by Louisa May Alcott. Yes, she didn’t just write ‘Little Women’. She wrote a number of sequels to this book such as ‘Good Wives’ and ‘Little Men’ as well as completely unrelated stories, a few favorites being ‘Eight Cousins’ and ‘Jack and Jill’. Themes seem to include, rich vs poor, love, orphans and family. I LOOOOOOVED the romantic lives her characters had, wishing that someday my life would look just like that.

I am telling you this because more and more I look back on my history of reading and see how my interests as a child have influenced the stories that I write. It is so important for kids to read!!!!

Another interesting thing to notice, is how decidedly british/ old fashioned all of the stories are. I guess I have always been an old soul.