A stroll down memory lane

01.16.04

Packing up boxes of old stuff that I haven’t even looked at in years inevitably caused the nostalgia to kick in. So maybe that’s why I was so excited when I stumbled on Emily Jones’ list of her favourite books that she read as a child. All the classics are on there, and Emily got the idea from a discussion with friends Sheila and Dan, both of whom have pretty steller lists themselves. Sheila’s list in particular reminded me of some of the books I used to love, but had totally forgotten about.

I always loved to read. Books were my candy. I would painstakingly save up my allowance every week to make a trip to the neighbourhood bookstore for new titles. That bookstore is gone now – a victim to the superstore phenomenon of Chapters/Indigo – but then, it was the kind of place where the salespeople knew me and had recommendations set aside every time I walked in. I would read my favourite books until they were in tatters, committing them to memory.

So I figure I gotta put together my own list, but I know I’ll leave so many out and I’ll probably have to add them once people remind me:

  • The Kit Pearson books: “The Daring Game”, “A Handful of Time”, and the “Norah” series – about a young girl and her brother sent from England to Canada as “war guests” during WWII.
  • From Anna by Jean Little, about a German girl who immigrates to Canada with her family, and the sequel “Listen for the Singing”. Jean Little also wrote a bunch of other favourites, including “Mine for Keeps” and “Home From Far”.
  • The Babysitters’ Club series – all of them, until I got too old for them. I could quote from them. Literally. It was scary.
  • The Root Cellar by Janet Lunn, about a girl named Rose who was transported back in time to the Civil War.
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee – a classic, of course.
  • the “Booky” trilogy by Bernice Thurman Hunter, about her childhood growing up in Ontario during the Great Depression.
  • Centre Stage– I can’t remember who the author is on this one, but it was about a little girl named Jenny who wanted to be a ballerina and attended the country’s most prestigious school in Toronto. The movie “Center Stage” a couple of years ago was clearly based loosely on this book, but they made the characters older and moved the story to the States, and though I looked high and low, I couldn’t find any mention of the book in the movie’s credits.
  • A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith – another classic.
  • The Secret Garden and A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett. Both were made into movies, plays, and all sorts of other forms. The original books are still better.
  • All of the Lois Duncan books – she wrote about the supernatural, and her books scared the hell out of me. Some of them still do.
  • The “Ramona” series by Beverly Cleary. Thanks to the lists above for reminding me. To this day, I never hear the Star-Spangled Banner without thinking of the special kind of lamp, “the dawnzer lee light”.
  • Emily of New Moon by L.M. Montgomery. Anne of Green Gables is more famous, but I liked Emily better.
  • The “All-of-a-kind-Family” series by Sydney Taylor, about a Jewish family with five kids growing up in the Lower East Side of New York at the turn of the (last) century. Thanks to Sheila for reminding me of these.
  • Sheila also listed Katherine Paterson’s “Bridge to Terabithia” which was a great book, and reminded me of one of my other favourites by Paterson, “Lyddie”.
  • Dicey’s Song and the rest of the Dicey series by Cynthia Voigt.
  • No Promises in the Wind by Irene Hunt, about a teenaged boy who leaves home to make it on his own with his little brother during the Depression.
  • The Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Especially the earlier books in the series, when Laura and Mary were growing up.

There are so many more and I’ll probably add to this post as I think of them. But this trip down memory lane’s been fun… feel free to join in.

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