day 39. growing up reading.

Okay, see, the bad thing about not updating every day after the first month out of the gate is that you have to sit down and count how many days have gone by and what day you’re actually on. It’s pretty confusing, actually. At least, for someone who doesn’t do math regularly. Which is, you know, obvijsol obviously, me. I think my fingers had some kind of word spasm, because that’s what happened just now. Weird.

Anyway, I have kind of a downer for today. One of my favorite childhood authors, Brian Jacques, died yesterday. If any of you ever read the Redwall series, you know who I’m talking about. Yes, the books about the fighting woodland creatures and mouse monks and badger warriors and all of that. I was obsessed with them in late elementary school, and I wish I could say I’ve kept up with them as I’ve gotten older, but I haven’t. My brother got really into them a few years ago, though, through reading my early ones and then asking for the new ones as they were released. All told, this is our collection:

Please don’t think this is our entire childhood book collection, because it isn’t. It’s just two shelves that are part of the home library, and the childhood books take up approximately two floor-to-ceiling shelves. It’s pretty fantastic, I know. But there, in the bottom middle, are our Redwall books.

I really love middle grade and young adult books. I think there’s a lot to be said for how complex they can be, tackling giant issues that people face all the time, while masking them with characters and situations that children like and are more ready to accept. I’m sure there are a lot of children who grew up reading Redwall that transferred that love into similar fantasy books for adults – those just happen to star humans rather than mice.

One of my other favorite books growing up was Where the Wild Things Are. I’m sure there are so many reasons behind this, but I think my favorite reason is that it’s entirely about imagination. I absolutely loved the movie. I know a lot of people hated it, but I thought it was beautiful and brought so much depth to an already fantastic story.

And for the record, Maurice Sendak is my favorite author-illustrator, of all time, ever. Eric Carle comes in a close second, but Sendak is by far my favorite. My mom and I used to always read this little book called The Little Fur-Child. I know how bizarre that sounds. I know. but it was a great book.

However, the book I spent by far the most time studying as a child was Graeme Base’s The Eleventh Hour. Sound familiar at all? If you read this book growing up, I’m impressed. I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone else who has. Not that it makes me special or anything – I’m just amazed that no one else ever read it.

On the surface, it’s a book about a group of animals that come to a birthday feast, and right before they go in to eat (at the eleventh hour, good joke), they realize someone has taken and eaten all of the food. It has to be one of them, and the reader’s job is to figure out who it was, through a series of quite difficult hidden messages, cryptography, and logical deduction. It’s very intricate and actually incredibly difficult – I couldn’t find all of the answers when I was younger, and honestly, I probably wouldn’t be able to find them all now. You’d have to read it to understand, which sounds so obscure, but it makes sense once you understand. Obviously. Well. If you’re looking for a fun way to spend an afternoon, go get this book. I’d recommend buying a fresh copy so the answers aren’t already open in the back, but any way you get it, it’s totally worth it.

What were your favorite childhood books? Why? What do you remember most about them?



4 thoughts on “day 39. growing up reading.

  1. I have not read The Eleventh Hour.

    Some of my favorites (aside from the obvious):

    Go Dog Go by P.D. Eastman
    Popcorn by Frank Asch
    Mercer Mayer books
    Berenstein Bears books
    “shoe books” by Noel Streatfeild
    Arthur books
    Babysitter’s Club

  2. I LOVED the Eleventh Hour! I’ve definitely never met anyone else who has read it, either. It was one of those books that just magically happened upon my bookshelf– I have no idea how it got there, if it maybe belonged to one of my sisters before me, but regardless, I have vivid memories of curling up and trying to figure it all out.

  3. Richard Scarry books. My mother was the librarian at several public schools but we didn’t spend much time reading in the library. Rather, we spent much of the summer at school helping her with reshelving, repairing torn pages and covers, and refiling everything under the Dewey Decimal System! Summer Fun for sure!!!

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