So, what with being in the Christmas spirit and all, that’s what I think I’m going to do with you all today – remember. I want to take a little trip down memory lane of some of the most important books to me growing up and just celebrate the fact that they existed, because without them I probably wouldn’t be here writing this blog now. Let’s get right down to it!
Where should we start..? I think we ought to go right back to the very beginning and talk about one of my absolute favourite picture books – ‘The Enormous Crocodile’ by Roald Dahl. For those of you who don’t know, ‘The Enormous Crocodile’ is a book about a very boastful crocodile (obviously… It wasn’t going to be a giraffe, was it?) who absolutely loves to eat children. The story follows all his attempts at doing just that.
As a kid, I never realised just how weird and twisted ‘The Enormous Crocodile’ really was, I was just happy to be read a story with such great illustrations. When I was five my oldest sister (and main babysitter) was nineteen and she had a love for creepy things, which is why she always read me this book in particular. I remember quite vividly that every time she read the book to me in bed, she would make little innocent baby me put on my creepiest, most disturbing voice and read the line: “if you listen carefully, you can hear their bones go munch and crunch”… Sister, I blame you for any strange child-eating behaviour I may develop as an adult! Than you very much.
As I grew up a little bit and became much too mature and sophisticated for picture books and Quentin Blake illustrations (Though, I never did truly outgrow his wonderful pictures…) I suddenly decided that I wanted to read all sorts of ‘classic’ books - the older, the better. My lovely Mum took it upon herself to go rooting through our most ancient belongings to find me her copy of ‘Nancy and Plum’. Yes, it was beaten and brown with age, but it had been my Mum’s favourite when she was a kid and that was enough to launch eight-year-old me into the first chapter. It truly is a gorgeously sweet book, following the story of two orphan sisters, Nancy and Plum, at Mrs Monday’s wretched boarding school. The story starts in a barn on a snowy Christmas Eve (the most charming setting I think I’ve ever read) and every time I read it, it just makes my heart swell. Ever since I first picked it up, I have read it at least once per year at Christmas time and the book holds so much nostalgia for me now that I can’t help but cry when reading its festive goodness!
It wasn’t too long after that that I came across my first ever ‘banned’ book. It was my older brother who told me that I wasn’t allowed to read ‘Angela and Diabola’ by Lynne Reid-Banks. Apparently, the story was horrifically, inappropriately disturbing – especially for a tiny ginger-haired kid like me – and I was not, under any circumstances, to read it. He practically gave it the kiss of death. Of course, as soon as he seemed to have finished with it, I snuck into his room and stole it from his bedside table.
I read secretly for the next two days, devouring the words with a mischievous smile on my face. It was a children’s book, but in truth it was dark! It was all about a young couple and their difficulty bringing up their two twin girls – one was the most perfect girl in the world, and one the most evil. The book certainly was a change from my usual sunshine fairies and ice princesses and I loved every single bit of it. I went on to read it a countless number of times, happily rereading it between every other book. It may have been just to spite my older brother, but I know for a fact that if he hadn’t forbidden me from reading ‘Angela and Diabola’, I never would have read it.
Those were three of the most important books of my childhood, the ones that even now when I read them I feel that same familiar burst of excitement that I did when I was younger. These books have helped shape my personality and my reading tastes and I just love each one of them so much. I know that when I am an adult, and I have munchkins of my own, that I will read them these books and maybe they’ll like them just as much as I did. Either way, there’s something about these books that just makes me feel so nostalgic and Christmassy that it’s all I can do not to have a little bit of a weepy moment.
Anyway! I’m getting all emotional now, so I best go find something a bit cheerier to do, sip eggnog or roll around in some tinsel or somethin… But, I’d love continue this conversation down in the comments! I want to hear all about your nostalgic books! Which books hold the most memories for you? Tweet me, facebook me – I’d love to know.
And to all the rest of you – Have a very merry Christmas!