I thought that I had an excellent recall of our children’s activities (those that I ever heard about!), their likes etc. However, Lucy tells me that I got it wrong about the children’s stories I mentioned in my last blog post.
I thought that they did not like reading books such as “Ballet Shoes”, “Swallows and Amazons” etc, but Lucy tells me that SHE did. She thinks I have got mixed up with the likes and dislikes of her other siblings. Sorry Lucy!
Maybe, when I think of books liked by an earlier generation, I’m on safer ground if I try and remember more books that I was encouraged to read by my mother and grandmother. My mother loved the E. Nesbitt stories, like “Five Children and It” etc. However, even though this may not please many writers and lovers of these books, I did NOT like them. I took exception to the fact that the big brothers always seemed to lord it over the sisters. I was NOT into male superiority. Maybe because I have a younger brother. . .
I really loved the many stories in the “Dimsie” series. Probably nobody today has heard of them. They were basically boarding-school stories, written in the 1920s. Dimsie was a really kind, interesting girl, whose mother died when she was young.
My mother absorbed a strange notion of the day, that Enid Blyton books were not “well-written” and she would not let me read them. However, naturally I was intrigued and borrowed them from friends whenever I could and I LOVED them. I had to stay in a cold lavatory to read them and then hide them under the mattress in case they were discovered! I think it is excellent that Enid Blyton stories are still popular today in 2015. Children can graduate from them to “better-written” stories and the enjoyment they derive from her stories is excellent. I have seen children totally engrossed in Enid Blyton stories on the underground, so engrossed that they are almost still reading them as they step off the train.
Our family was partly French and I was encouraged to read French from an early age There was a wonderful picture book about the life of a duck entitled “Plouf le Canard”. This enabled me as I enjoyed the pictures and simple story, to learn about the life story of a duck. It was very vivid and a good lesson in nature study. Then there was a story about a town in France that was flooded – maybe in order to make a dam. I can’t remember the actual details. The book was entitled “La Catherale Engloutie”. It was very dramatic. (Debussy wrote music inspired by this true story.)
I was also encouraged to read longer stories in French. One was “Les Malheures de Sophie”. Sophie was a naughty girl, who went to stay with her too-good-to-be-true- cousins. I liked Sophie!
Also there was an interesting story called “Memoirs d’Un Elephant Blanc”. This story took me to a fascinating country where my uncle lived for over 20 years – India. (Finally we get to something from another culture.)
I felt sorry for my father when I discovered a pile of his children’s books. They were all ‘morality’ tales of the “Good Dan”, “Bad Jack” variety. On the other hand, I believe he was young when many archaeological discoveries were made in Egypt and he had some comics describing all these incredible artefacts. I pored over those comics, as I am sure he did. Those discoveries about a long-hidden culture must have excited people enormously.
A non-book related memory: I remember visiting my great-grandfather when I was a child and being introduced to his grey parrot. Then, some 50 years later I saw the same parrot in a cousin’s house. Obviously he had inherited this interesting bird. There ought to be a story in there somewhere. “What the parrot saw”. . . However I don’t think I’ll be writing that.