I was standing in Waterstones in York last week when I overheard a gentleman asking one of the staff members for a book recommendation for his granddaughter. I was pleasantly surprised to hear that the recommendation was Noel Streatfields “Ballet Shoes”. One of the first books I ever remember reading. This made me start thinking about the books that made my childhood, and most likely made me the bookworm I am today. I realised that there was no better way to spend World Book Day than thinking about the books that helped me find the joy in reading.
I remember sitting on the balcony on a summers eve in Italy with my grandma reading the book to me, and getting me to read it to her, sounding out the words – Oh how I wanted to be little Posy in the book. As I grew older I read the book alone, at least once a year, sometimes I wanted to be more like Pauline, and other times like Petrova. What stuck with me was the story behind the main story. The characters and roles they were auditioning for ( I learnt more about A midsummer night’s dream from this book than I ever did at school) were scenarios I could get caught up in, and I think as an only child it almost felt like I was part of the family.
For those of you that have never read it, all three children are adopted by GUM (Great Uncle Matthew) and go to live in a large house in London with his Great Niece and her Nana. Money is tight and the family make space for lodgers who all help shape the children with their love of the arts. The three Fossil girls all embark on their different passions – all of which as a little girl are the stuff dreams are made of.
The other book I remember clearly and most recently purchased a copy of to read again is an Enid Blyton Classic – Those Dreadful Children. I think the copy of the book was my aunties, then my mums and finally became mine. It was so old the glue no longer held the pages together making it difficult to read, but again, every year I picked it up and read it.
It’s the amusing story of the Carlton family (a little bit posh, prim and proper) who get new neighbours at the bottom of the garden. They soon learn that the new family aren’t like them, they’re scruffy, messy and know how to have real fun. It’s the story of how kids learn how to play together and be friends no matter where they come from, and what the adults think. I think it was the fun in the book that really drew me to it, and all these years later the postman has just delivered me a new 2nd hand / preloved copy of the book, which I’m going to read and reminisce with tonight.
For me these two books really stand out, closely followed by two other Enid Blyton books:
Bimbo and Topsy; The Story of a cat and a dog who end up being pets together and learning to get on, and the magical adventures of the faraway tree where you can climb a tree, stick you head through the clouds and enter whichever crazy land is there for the day – imagination heaven.
My journey includes books about ponies and the babysitters club, sweet valley twins and university, Famous five and secret seven, Anything by Roald Dahl and the Point Horror books, all completely different, but all unique in the ability to completely draw me in and help me live in my imagination. They helped learn how to multitask – I can read and walk, read and eat, I’m sure if I tried hard I could read and sleep, and more importantly it helped coin the phrase my parents learned to love
“Just one more chapter”