Friday, September 14, 2007

A Book! A Book!


"This is a place of mystery ... a sanctuary. Every book, every volume you see here has a soul. The soul of the person who wrote it and of those who read it and lived and dreamed with it.

Few things leave a deeper mark on a reader than the first book that finds a way into his heart."

--Carlos Ruiz Zafon, The Shadow of the Wind.


This is Baby R reading in the sunshine of his back yard. The first book I remember was Epamanondas and His Auntie, by Sara Cone Bryant. Epamanondas, who carried the butter home as he had carried the cake, "wrapped up in leaves and put in his hat as he came along home... But soon the sun began to shine brightly. It shone down on the trees and down on the bushes and down on Epamanondas hat... and the drops trickled down his neck, inside his collar, and under his shirt.

"Epamanondas, what do you have in your hat?"

"Butter, Mama. Grandpa gave it to me."

"Epamanondas, sometimes you haven't got the sense you were born with. That's not the way to carry butter. The way to carry butter is to wrap it up in leaves, then take it down to the brook to cool it and cool it in the water. Now, will you remember that?"

"Yes, Mama. I'll remember. I'll remember."


I was about three when my Mama read this to me, and I still love it. Next week my neighborhood book club is reviewing Ray Bradbury's "Dandelion Wine," another book that (several years later) I lived with and dreamed with, that's still in my heart. What's the first book you remember? What book is still in your heart?

*

20 comments:

split ends said...

Mmmmm... books!

I remember lots of books from right around the age of three. I was one of those lucky kids who got a story at bedtime every night. I particularly loved it when my father would read a Scooby Doo story about a haunted house to me and my brother; after reading it through normally, he would speed-read it in reverse. We were thrilled and impressed! At that age, the time spent with the reader is almost as important as the book itself, I think.

I loved a lot of books growing up. Reading was a complete escape for me. But the first time a book firmly planted itself in my heart (instead of simply stealing me away somewhere else) was my freshman year of high school, and it was The Power of One, by Bryce Courtenay, which I read on the recommendation of my English teacher.

Excellent, excellent book.

Sorry for hogging the comments; apparently you hit on a topic I love!

Tammy said...

I was not read to as a child but my first fun read was the Nancy Drew books but then puberty lead me to romance paperbacks. A bad marriage lead to Danielle Steel and straight to self help books. In the last nine years a wise neighbor showed me the light.

If you tell anyone this I'll deny everything! LOL

slickdpdx said...

I think the first book I can remember is Go, Dog, Go! There is something attractively creepy about the picture of the dogs driving around in the dark. Also, an awful lot of punctuation for a three word title of a beginning reader!

In my heart? That book is I Had Trouble Getting to Solla Sollew.

P.S. The original, issued in August 1965, is going for $300!

Paul Bunyan said...

I too thought Go, Dog, Go! was strangely creepy. For me it was at the end with all of the dogs partying on top of the tree. Too wierd... Even now reading it to my kids brings back those old creeps. I also remember Where The Wild Things Are and think it was creepy because of the art work. Then I remember Pepek (the assasin) reading to me a series of books called Death, Gore, And What Will Happen To You If You're Naughty! But this is about books we love.

So not reallying being a reader until after high school I don't have any that I remember as a youth (that were positive, tho Pepek may argue Death and Gore was positve.) It was a chore then and quiet honestly finishing Blood Meridian now is becoming a chore too. Anyway, a book that I remember is Einstein's Dreams. I think it was published in the early 90's.

pepektheassassin said...

Hey, I didn't think Go, Dogs, Go! was creepy...and I don't even REMEMBER reading you a book called Death, Gore, and What Will Happen to You if You're Naughty!...um, but I do remember something similar....called, I think, Slovenly Peter.

split ends, he speed-read it BACKWARDS! I am thrilled and impressed myself!

Tammy, I'll NEVER tell.

pepektheassassin said...

The full title was Slovenly Peter: Fearful Stories and Vile Pictures for Good Little Children.

Does that ring any bells?

pepektheassassin said...

btw, Mark Twain did the English translation of this "Der Struwwelpeter," and Maurice Sendak said of its drawings: "Graphically it is one of the most beautiful books in the world."

Excerpt:
Just look at him! There he stands,
With his nasty hair and hands.
See! his nails are never cut,
They are grim'd as black as soot,
And the sloven, I declare,
Never once has combed his hair....


(And MY Mama read it to me!)

pepektheassassin said...

PS The original of this is going for $700. But you can get it on Amazon for $3.95 plus shipping.

Paul Bunyan said...

Death and Gore was a joke. Not so funny I guess.

The River Warren (Kent Meyers) was also a heart book.

pepektheassassin said...

I know it was a joke. And I thought it WAS funny. But it fit with the Peter book and its "fearful stories and vile pictures." And we DID read that!

:D

pepektheassassin said...

I know it was a joke. And I thought it WAS funny. But it fit with the Peter book and its "fearful stories and vile pictures." And we DID read that!

:D

chiefbiscuit said...

I love that photo and the account of your first book.
The book I remember most as a child is 'Anne of Green Gables'. A firm favourite of mine. But also,earlier, Brer Rabbit and Milly Molly Mandy, Winnie the Pooh and then a bit later the Bobbsey Twins and lots and lots of Enid Blyton. I could go on ... Heidi, Pollyanna, Little Women, What Katy Did ....

chiefbiscuit said...

Oh and do you read Clare's blog at all? (The Keeper of Snails) A link to her blog is on my sidebar. The book you mentioned reading to your kids features in her novel '98 Reasons for Being' which is about the author of that book ...

danika said...

Like Split Ends, I remember many books from early childhoos, but fell in love forever with reading in my early teens when I read the three books that comprise the Trilogy of the Bounty: Mutiny on the Bounty, Men Agaisnt the Sea, and Pitcairn's Island. Wow! They had everything -- adventure, romance, history, and even a little sex! Also like Split Ends, I read The Power of One. I was fifty years old when I read it, but I felt like I'd fallen in love. When I went to work without having finished the book, I thought about it, missed it, and couldn't wait to return to it.

Nancy said...

I can remember the first time I figured out how words worked. I'd not gone to Kindergarden yet, but my mom and dad had read to me, taught me my letters and then they signed up for the Dr. Seuss books.

They read and read to me and my bro and sis. Sometime after I'd memorized "Hop On Pop", I realized that all the words that sounded the same at the end had the same letters at the end. And I used that to sound out the words. Heady stuff for a just turned 5 year old.

The first one I remember reading all by myself was "Green Eggs and Ham".

After that, I read everything I could get my hands on.

Pam said...

When I was a little girl I had the complete collection of Raggedy Ann and Andy books, Alice in Wonderland, The Wizard of Oz, The Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen. I cherished them all and remember them down to the last story and illustration.

split ends said...

Danika! I was excited to read your comment... then clicked on your name, and no blog! Anyone with such good taste in books ought to be writing. :) Please do let me know if you do have one hidden away somewhere!

slickdpdx said...

Slovenly Peter sounds like the bomb!

pepektheassassin said...

I have ordered copies of Slovenly Peter, Epamanondas, and Woofus the Woolly Dog, just for old times sake, sentimental boob that I am. I already have one, an old library copy of another called Teenie Weenie Neighbors that they used to publish in the newspaper when I was really little. I loved this, too. Ginky was the mouse in this, and since my brother loved it too, he was often called Gink. Hmm. I just remembered that. Wonder if he remembers?

pepektheassassin said...

I have ordered copies of Slovenly Peter, Epamanondas, and Woofus the Woolly Dog, just for old times sake, sentimental boob that I am. I already have one, an old library copy of another called Teenie Weenie Neighbors that they used to publish in the newspaper when I was really little. I loved this, too. Ginky was the mouse in this, and since my brother loved it too, he was often called Gink. Hmm. I just remembered that. Wonder if he remembers?