Looking for a bookish topic for this week, I went to see what the Broke and the Bookish have proposed in the past–and found Childhood Favorites right at the top of their list. I’ve written about a number of childhood favorites (like Monday’s Classic Review), but I thought there had to be many I’d never mentioned. So of course I went to my bookshelf for some slightly more obscure favorites. It wasn’t hard–I’ve made a habit for years of buying childhood favorites from the library’s (extremely cheap!) warehouse sale, in part so I won’t forget them!
1) The Mystery of the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks – The Indian in the Cupboard is one of those well-known classics, and I liked that one…but I liked the later Mystery of the Cupboard better, with its story of how the cupboard became magical.
2) Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink – Not unlike Little House on the Prairie, this is a story of a child out on the frontier…although somehow Caddie seemed to have more fun and lead a less lonely life than Laura! Funnily enough, long before I ever went to England, I didn’t feel quite the way I was obviously supposed to when the Woodlawn family must decide whether to go take up an English estate or to stay on the frontier… I think I’ve always been in favor of civilization though!
3) The Wednesday Witch by Ruth Chew – A very charming little story of a girl who meets a witch, whose spells only work reliably on Wednesdays. It’s funny and cute and, come to think of it, features a talking cat…
4) Beverly Cleary, en masse – I haven’t written much on this very well-known author, but I think I’ve read just about all of her canon. I certainly read the entire Henry Huggins series, and the related Ramona series. My favorite was Ribsy, from the dog’s point of view.
5) Morning Girl by Michael Dorris – The story of a girl and her brother growing up in the Bahamas in 1492, it brings a very foreign culture vividly to life. I suspect that the sinister undertones to the arrival of Christopher Columbus in the Epilogue went completely past me as a child… Randomly enough, this is the first book I can remember reading with alternating first person points of view.
6) The Music of Dolphins by Karen Hesse – I love the way this one is written. A girl who grew up with dolphins is “rescued” and taken to a research center for education (and study, though the people do seem benevolent). Written from the girl’s point of view, the language and sentences grow increasingly complex as she learns. It’s not unlike Flowers for Algernon, I suppose (though the ending is happier, if rather implausible).
7) Howliday Inn by James Howe – This series is better known for Bunnicula, but my library had Howliday Inn so it was the one I read first. The character of Bunnicula is almost completely absent–so in my mind, this series was always primarily about well-meaning Harold the dog, and suspicious, scheming Chester the cat. They’re funny and absurd and wonderful characters.
8) Mrs. Piggle Wiggle’s Magic by Betty MacDonald – I read this entire series, about clever Mrs. Piggle Wiggle who solves behavior problems for all the neighborhood children…but this is the best one. In the first book her solutions are purely practical and a bit heavy-handed. Magical solutions are so much more fun, when tattle-talers have clouds with tails hang above them and a “heedless breaker” finds herself moving in slow-motion.
9) Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell – Somewhat like Morning Girl but in the opposite ocean, this invites us into Native American life on a small Pacific island. This becomes a castaway story when a girl ends up living on the island alone for years. This also contains a rather sad ending…but I remember the sadness did hit me as a kid for this one!
10) Yesterday’s Doll by Cora Taylor – I’m not sure if I was more fascinated by the doll handed down through generations, or the fact that she’s the key to time travel…but either way this one captured my imagination too.
What were your childhood favorite books? Maybe not the very top of the list ones, but the ones that still hold fond memories for you too?