Looking way back, I remember weekly trips to the library. I was the youngest of three, and felt confused when it came to selecting reading material. My Mom would be off in the grownup area and I would wander around with no guidance. My sister was immersed in the Walter Farley section or else re-reading Little Women. My brother was at home reading electronics magazines or Mad Magazine. It would be a long time before The Secret Garden would appeal to me.
There were a select few books which held a special place for me. One was a Christmas gift from my father with the most beautiful cover I had ever seen. It had a quite simple leather-like binding, off white in color. This small book turned into a favorite. I thought the illustrations wonderful. This was Shy the Platypus, and I was enchanted by the exotic animal.
Somewhere along the way, the book vanished. I have no idea when that might have been. Years and years later my husband returned from a conference in Sydney and had come across a version of “my” book.
I was delighted. But truth be told, it is not the same and does not have the same “feel” to it. The illustrations still please me though, and the story has scary elements. Then, as now, I enjoyed the fact that it was “real”, about real animals, real places. (Later on Audubon’s Birds of America became a favorite and I studied it meticulously over the years. It too disappeared.)
Another book that enchanted me was a book which my teacher in France introduced to our class when I was eight years old. She would read us long passages from this book and later we would have dictations from what she had read. I adored this book and its illustrations. It was called The Adventures of Maïa the Bee. I always wanted to use the name Maïa if I ever had a daughter!
Today when I look at the text I am amazed by the difficulty of the French, and yet when I was eight neither the vocabulary nor verb tenses disturbed me a bit.
The beautiful red and black paper cover did not survive and so I had it bound as cheaply as I could afford several decades ago.
If only I could have had it bound as beautifully as this fabulous wedding gift of fairy tales!
Recently a friend, knowing that I will be visiting my grandchildren soon, sent me the precious gift of one of her meaningful books from long ago accompanied by a lovely handwritten note. (Remember those?)
We will begin with some of the simpler fables and graduate to others on future visits.
I am deeply touched!
This post is shared with Mockingbird Hill Cottage.