Category Archives: Blast from the past!

Books we fell in love with

I’ve been thinking a little bit this week about what makes us fall in love with books as children. Is it the story? The characters? The illustrations? Or do we somehow just feel an instant connection with certain books? I also wondered if there was a particular book that seemed to be commonly loved among my peers (whose first memories of books would have been somewhere around the late 80s/early 90s). So, I asked a few friends to helped me out and tell me about their favourite book as a child and why. Here are their answers:

Cassandra:
Clifford the Big Red Dog! It was because he was a big red dog. I remember, my mom even got me a stuffed toy which apparently was hard to find at the time…a really long time ago. And I loved dogs.

Daniela:
I LOVED The Very Hungry Caterpillar. I think what attracted me most is the colours (i’m not kidding you) and the big, simple pictures of the things he ate. The words weren’t complicated either. Best damn book!!

Lydia:
I really liked a book called The Busy Garage – the first book I ever read. It’s about a family on their way to the fair when their car breaks down and they have to take it to the mechanic (ahhh, the story of my life). My brother spent days (hours? minutes? It’s hard to measure time when you’re a kid) teaching me how to read it.

Stephanie:
One of my favourite books when I was younger was Red is Best by Kathy Stinson. I think mostly I was jealous that she had red rain boots and I always wanted a pair like that…but, I think I just really thought she was such a cool kid – who could put together wicked outfits, and who understood that parents just didn’t get it.

Morgan:
My favourite book was Summer by Alice Low. The book’s home was my grandmother’s cottage and she would read it to me, my sister, and my cousins every summer. The illustrations are awesome and it talked about everything we did at the cottage – from eating watermelon and s’mores to to cooling off in the water and having water fights. I was the lucky member of the family to swipe this book when the cottage was sold. The cover has fallen off and it is taped together but I will still keep it to read to my children every summer.

Olivia:
My favourite book was Rosie’s Babies by Martin Waddell. I liked it because my Mom used to read it to me every night! Plus she got it for me because I looked like Rosie!

Me:
My favourite book as a young child was Alligator Pie by Dennis Lee (who also happens to be one of the founders of House of Anansi). It’s a book of absurd poems, and I loved it because it was just so much fun. I remember being young enough to not really understand the concept of alligator pie and why it was so strange, but the way Lee strung together language so playfully made me love it regardless.

Though my little poll is by no means scientific, I think it does say something about the books we love. They’re all different–and we love them for different reasons–but they still manage to stick with us for years after we outgrow bedtime stories.

What about you? What was your favourite book when you were younger? Do you remember why you fell in love with it? Leave a comment and share your memories!

The return of the Baby-Sitters Club

Are you a Kristy, a Claudia, a Mary Anne or a Stacey? If you’re like millions of twenty-somethings who grew up on Ann M. Martin’s prolific Baby-Sitters Club series, you can probably answer that question quickly, with evidence and justification, all these years later.

Me? I’m a Mary Anne with a little Kristy thrown in, who wishes she was more like Stacey.

As someone who spent much of my preteen years racing through the 200+ of books in the series, including Super Specials, Mysteries, Baby-Sitters Little Sister, and California Diaries spin-offs, I was embarrassingly excited to hear about Scholastic’s plans to reissue the series. Set to begin in April 2010, the reissue will include updated versions of the first two books, as well as a brand new prequel titled The Summer Before.

From a marketing perspective, this makes near-perfect sense. Here’s my math: The original series ran from 1986-2000. The oldest readers–ten-year-olds who started reading the series in 1986–would be in their mid-thirties by now, right around when they might have 7-10 year old daughters of their own. By reissuing the series now, Scholastic can take advantage of the nostalgia of former BCS fans who will pick up the book for their preteen daughters, nieces, and family friends. If it works as planned, this will continue as younger readers of the original series start to have their preteens to shop for, allowing the reissue to continue for years to come.

There’s a big if here though. Will today’s generation of preteens–raised on Twilight, Miley Cyrus, YouTube, and sexting–latch onto something as safe as the Baby-Sitters Club? And even if they do, will they have the attention spans to follow a series made up of so many books? It’ll be interesting to see what happens in April when it all comes back to life.

In the meantime, I’d like to petition for an adult follow-up to the series that revisits the characters as young adults. It would be the stuff my chick lit dreams are made of.

Name, rank, and serial number.

I’ve decided to use my first (actual) post to revisit one of my all-time favourite books: I Want To Go Home by Gordon Korman. I’ve lost track of how many time I’ve read this book, which remains laugh-out-loud funny to this day. Korman brings his A-game in I Want To Go Home, the story of a young misanthrope whose parents force him to go summer camp against his will in an effort to help him make the friends he doesn’t want.

Rudy Miller is my hero. In retrospect, this book is likely largely responsible for my well-honed (and often-used) sense of dry humour and sarcasm. There’s a enough depth of character beyond that though to give us a glimpse into the life a boy who has probably never been able to fit in. At it’s heart, this is a story about friendship and how we can make connections despite our best attempts. And about a beaver who just wants to build her dam in peace.

My only wish is that Korman had brought Rudy, Mike, Chip, Pierre, and Harold Greene back for one more summer.