Continuing with some of the books I loved as a kid, I find I recall fewer of the classic kids books than some of the popular fiction sold for eager young readers. Naturally, it was the horse stories that most captured me as a pre-teen. The series of novels by Walter Farley about The Black Stallion and other super-horses were among my favorites
Author Walter Farley (1915-1989) wrote The Black Stallion in 1941 and followed it with many sequels, all adored by kids like me. Below one of my favorites, when I was in my American Saddlebred phase: a pinto that won the five-gaited championship, the wonderful Harlequin Hullabaloo.
Well before my horsey years, I loved the Bobbsey Twins series. Burt and Nan (12) and Freddie and Flossie (6) were delightful characters, two sets of twins, in stories written by various authors using the name Laura Lee Hope. The Stratemeyer Syndicate had numerous multi-volume series sold nationwide and I gobbled up many of them. There were eventually 72 Bobbseys from the first in 1904 until 1992. Like many of their series, they were updated as styles and popular culture evolved over nearly a century. I devoured these books and loved them, though I did mix in the classics too: Twain, Kipling, Dickens, etc.
I'll bet you could have predicted that I was a faithful devotee of the Nancy Drew Mysteries. I actually preferred the early editions in which Nancy and Bess talked of their frocks and drove roadsters. Again, there were several authors, all using the penname of Carolyn Keene. Again, they were updated every few years and given new covers. Movies and tv series were based on Nancy's exploits, as well as on the Hardy Boys, all original products of the Stratemeyer Syndicate.
To polish off my humble and quite low-brow childhood reading, I recall one of my favorite early romance novels, Palomino by Danielle Steel published in 1981. Must have been the horse connection!
At some point, I began to read adult books, other than horse stories, and fell in love with historical novels along with the classics of British and American literature. Count me among those authors who credit Jane Austen with great inspiration, but also the Regency Romance novels of Georgette Heyer which certainly figured in my favorite reads, someplace between the Bobbseys and William Makepeace Thackery. So there you have it, my secret guilty pleasures...what are your favorite reads from long ago? Are they favorites of the literature professors....or guilty pleasures??
I'm afraid I started something I won't be able to stop!! Last week I wrote about the book Misty of Chincoteague, a childhood favorite of many of us. And I can't stop thinking about the books I adored years ago (don't you dare ask how many). But as May arrives, I think of the wonderful gardens that Raggedy Ann and Andy cavorted in, just where I want to be these days.
Johnny Gruelle (1880-1938) wrote the books and illustrated them, after creating the doll before the first book was published in 1918. And more followed, bringing us wonderful characters such as the Camel With the Wrinkled Knees, Beloved Belindy and the Snoopwiggly (at least that's how I spell it now), the two-armed, four-legged creature below.
I particularly love the trees and flowers Gruelle painted...his views of nature were often stylized, always unique. Below a few examples culled from the web. Please remember to click on the images for larger versions.
One of my favorite traits of Raggedy Ann was the way she did dishes...since they were made of powdered sugar, they disappeared into the mouths of the diners. And do you remember their wind sandwiches? They took slices of wind and placed them around fillings of wind...how delicious.
Did you have a Raggedy Ann doll? I had several, and made both Ann and Andy for my kids...What are your favorite memories of the Raggedys?
Victoria Hinshaw, Author