Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Childhood Books

From the sublime to the...

From poetry, when we went book shopping over the weekend, I descended to the good old books of my childhood and bought 2 sets of Famous Five books. There is a new edition, priced at Rs. 200, which contains 3 stories in each volume. I've really been enjoying re-reading these though the FF are not my favourite Blyton characters. I do have several bones to pick and always did, with the rather bossy Julian who seems to call all the shots, and Anne who is a typically 'girly' girl which didn;t appeal to tomboy me. I also thought the gender-stereotyping was quite unfair, with the boys getting to do all the fun and dangerous things, while George, who was pretty adventurous herself, had to stay back to babysit Anne who was always scared of the adventure.

Oh, well, I still hugely enjoy the books, especially the spirit of adventure and daring, all the weird places they discover and the way the kids go off by themselves. Those must have been much safer times than these, when we wouldn't let Chubbocks so much as go cycling by himself if we didn't live in a gated community. I was reading one where they go off in a caravan and I immediately thought what fun it would be for us to do something like that, or a driving holiday, in England sometime. The countryside there is really gorgeous in the summer.

The other thing I love is all the mention of food - the kids always have a slab of chocolate on hand - and for those of us who grew up in India in the 70s, a slab of chocolate was unheard of - at best we had 5 star bars or those skinny Cadbury's Dairy Milk bars and even those were few and far between. The kids always used to exclaim at things like tomatoes, potatoes boiled in their jackets and fresh radish and lettuce - how healthy! Wherever they went, they hauled copious amounts of food - sandwiches, plums and the like - and drink - gingerbeer for choice. Farmer's wives use dto be super-generous and hand out 'a jar of brawn' - which I don't know what it is, or cold tongue or scones with lashings of butter or cream...I can't read a FF book without something to munch on.

What I appreciate is also how self-sufficient the kids seem to be - no running about to daddy when the problems appear; they just take charge and solve it for themselves. They wander all over the countryside by themselves and don't get intimidated by random, rude grown-ups.

I'm really enjoying my time capsule, and am pretty sure my kids will like the series too, apart from the girl/ boy divide. The values are great - honesty, loyalty, being brave and standing up for oneself, carrying on when things get tough, helping others...

4 comments:

Kiran said...

Have you read "The Faraway tree" series??? I used to love it as a kid (along with the other Enid Blyton books. Its awesome!

Confuscious Writes said...

Mary Poppins, Sheldon Allan Silverstein, Roald Dahl, Enid Blyton - names of my extended childhood. Read about a new publishing house in Chennai, with some really interesting books here: http://www.beautifulmind-sam.blogspot.com

Srividya said...

You transported me to my childhood days. I am a great Enid Blyton fan. Even now, given a chance I re read my Enid Blytons. I too read anything under the sun. Though i am not an avid collector like you. My dad was, but later due to space shortage, he donated books to several libraries.

bird's eye view said...

Kiran - I used to love the Faraway tree series and think it's a wonderful for new readers to start on - that and Wishing Chair. How I used to wish I owned one...you know, now I think about it, our rocking chair looks exactly like the illustrations of the wishing chair...maybe my wishful thinking!

Srividya - oh what a pity your dad had to give away books - I keep collecting like a mad person, and we're hoping to finally rehouse our library by end of the year in a room all to themselves...that shall be my favourite place at home, methinks!