Meaningful Books

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!

Jan14-2013Books3 Jan14-2013Books4 Jan14-2013Books5 Jan14-2013Books6

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!

Jan14-2013Books9 Jan14-2013Books10


Sleeping BeautyJan14-2013Books12

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?)


Her mother was a librarian, I’m sure of the attentive kind. She would have been by my side assisting me with book selections had she been my librarian!Jan14-2013Books14

I am certain that little Ivy and Leo will examine the illustrations thoroughly with me in just a few weeks.Jan14-2013Books15 Jan14-2013Books16 Jan14-2013Books17

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.


About fromourisland

Gardener, knitter, wife, mother of 2, grandmother, and lots more.
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10 Responses to Meaningful Books

  1. Gayle says:

    I enjoy your blog so much! I look forward to reading your postings every day. In the beginning I was following just to see your beautiful garden photos, but even in the dead of winter I enjoy your writings. Thank you for sharing!

  2. Jack says:

    Ah, books. A delight. Different generations have different books. When my kids were young, I enjoyed reading to them. It might have been selfish . . . I enjoyed the artwork.

  3. Diane says:

    Great volumes! Love the illustrations of the last one.

  4. Debra says:

    Beautiful illustrations in all! Not familiar with the first two but I do recall having the aesops fables when I was young / different illustrations though….these are charming! I know that you can’t wait to be reading them to the grands! 🙂

  5. Claudia says:

    They are all quite wonderful! Nothing is more powerful than a book read in childhood that shapes our perceptions and takes us to magical places. Love this post.

    Thanks so much for joining in this week!


  6. Mary Waind says:

    So special, Marie.
    One of mine was “The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin”.

  7. Haworth says:

    I love this entry, and am so grateful you came to my blog and steered me this way. The memories our childhood books give to us are so wonderful and enduring. Yours are so special! I’m only sorry you don’t have some of the copies from your childhood, but perhaps the ones you have now are at least some connection to that past.

  8. Haworth says:

    It’s heartbreaking when books from our childhood don’t survive and we long to hold and read them again. I’m glad you still have some of them, and little ones to enjoy them with. And how wonderful that your friend sent you her precious book as a gift. I enjoyed reading this so much.

    • So glad that you came back to this post! Just last week I was reading Shy the Platypus to my grandson Leo. He will soon be 7 years old and still enjoys being read to. He has lots of favorites!
      We now have moved close to my daughter’s family and get to watch their three young ones grow in many ways. 🙂
      I’m not very good at keeping up with the blog, but recently posted about our garden here:

      • Haworth says:

        Thank you for the link! I haven’t been posting much over the past year and a half, or able to read others’ blogs… I was having a lot of work done on my cottage, and then I retired a year ago and then, sadly, I was very ill. I finally posted about it all on my blog last month. But I’m slowly going back and reacquainting myself with other bloggers and trying to answer posts, and am also hoping to post more myself. Take care… and enjoy reading to those little ones!

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