I've have always fantasized about being a children's book author. On trips to the bookstore, even at 30-something with no kids, I will peruse the children's section, admiring their bright, imaginative covers, humourous titles, and quirkily illustrated characters. And if I were to fulfill this dream, it would be one of two distinct styles of children's books I would model my own after: it would either rhyme and have the fun, sing-songy cadence of Seuss and be colourfully illustrated by someone with a style along the lines of J. Otto Seibold
or Johnny Yanock
, OR it would be somewhat darker, imbued with overt themes of good and evil, (a la Edward Gorey
), imparting valuable life lessons, and illustrated by someone with the style of say, Brett Helquist
I read children's books still. Like the Harry Potter and Lemony Snicket
books, for example. I find them positively captivating, brimming with imagination. Recently, when I worked with a group of preschool-aged children, instead of reading them just 1 book before nap time, I would indulge them (and myself obviously), with 2 or 3 instead. They thought they were talking me into it - but I looked forward to that time of the day. The Sneetches, Green Eggs & Ham,
had to of been our favourites.
Some of my favourite books of all time are the books I read as a child: Charlotte's Web, Charlie & The Chocolate Factory, Alice In Wonderland, A Christmas Carol, The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe, Peter Pan, and The Snow Queen to name but a few. Of course there are the staple authors that I read anything and everything by, too, like Dr. Seuss, A.A. Milne, and Beatrix Potter. And when a friend or relative has a baby, I often give The Complete Tales of Winnie The Pooh
or The Complete Tales of Beatrix Potter
as a gift.
I definitely get my love of reading from my mother. When she was young, her birthday and Christmas presents were often books. She read through them voraciously, saving many of them into adulthood. What a treat for me as a child, to crack open a Donna Parker
or Trixie Belden
book, and to see it inscribed: "To Lois... X-mas '62, from your sisters," "To Lois... from Santa, 1957," or "To Lois... from your Parents - don't read all the time!" Seemingly strange advice from parents, I know, but whenever she received a new book, she would disappear and not emerge again until it had been read cover to cover... usually later that same day. Then she'd anxiously want to know when she could get another one. I guess my grandparents just couldn't keep up with the demand! I enjoyed reading her old books, very much. It was exciting for me to know that I was reading something that she had read at my age, and experiencing exactly what she had experienced with each turn of the page. The book would take on a romantic, almost magical status for me.
I used to sit on a small chair in my bedroom, and turn my book toward an imaginary cluster of rapt students, and read story after story aloud to them (and believe me, the practice came in handy for when the time came later in life to do so!) I loved to collect books, just as my mother had, and saved each one when I was done so that I could re-read them over and over again. They seemed like best friends to me once I was through. I felt so appreciative of the journey they had taken me on, all the wondrous things they'd shared with (seemingly) just me. And like my mother, I spent so much time with my books, that my dad, as a special surprise, built me a bookcase for my room so that I could house them all neatly and keep them from harm. I remember taking great pride in organizing them on their shelves, re-arranging them by style or by author, or alphabetically, depending on my mood.
Some of those books I have even now, and I pull them out from time to time to re-read them: my copy of Charlotte's Web that I got in public school (my mother's favourite book, too); my copy of A Christmas Carol (that I... erm... "forgot" to return to my school library); a dog-eared, very well loved copy of Charlie & The Chocolate Factory, and My Donna Parker hard covers that my grandparents gave to me, just as they had given to my mother before me ("To April... from Nanny & Pops, 1980"). They didn't write: "Don't read all the time!" in mine though - probably because they realized the 2nd time around that it was of no use to say so.
I will likely always play with the idea of one day writing a children's book. And I will always, most certainly, keep my old favourites around. They still are such a pleasure for me to read and remind me of what it was like to experience them for the first time. I could never get rid of them. It's unfathomable to discard old friends.
visit sunday scribblings