So often when I read a bio in the Kidslit sphere it includes something along the lines of “I remember my grandma reading to me at 4 months…….etc.” Well, I have a confession to make; I have no recollections at all of being read to in the family as a child. Although I can reel off with ease the literary influences of middle grade and up, I struggle to remember those first albums that inspired me. Though I do remember my love affair with books starting very young. I also remember at age 4/5 having to ask permission to go up to the big class to borrow books from their library and, *sighs with embarrassment*, at age 6 writing lines as punishment – “I will not forget my library books.” (a village school in the 60’s with wonderfully advanced pedagogical techniques – NOT – I still blame my atrocious handwriting on this! and I could tell you some more horrendous punishments).
So I have been wracking the grey matter for hidden memories and have come up with four picture books that touched my early years.
Bread and Jam for Frances by Russel and Lillian Hoban, originally published in 1964. I loved this little badger’s fussy obsession with bread and jam. I was a toast n marmalade gal myself! I liked feisty, stubborn protagonists even at that age, who knows why!
The Cat in the Hat by Dr Seuss – Originally published in 1957. I guess we all remember some Seuss? I can recollect a kind of slow panic rising in me, empathizing with the kids, at all the mess Cat in the Hat was making, and I loved the expressions of the fish’s chagrin at all the naughty antics.
Ant and Bee and the Rainbow by Angela Banner – Originally published in the UK in 1962. It was a simple little colour story where Ant and Bee see a rainbow and spend the day with paints and an old tyre. I don’t know if these were ever popular in the US? The principal characters were Ant (the naughtier and more adventurous half of the duo) and Bee (more sensible and better behaved). Sometimes they were joined by the Kind Dog and the zoo man. These books used simple three and four-letter words and I think they were the first I read alone. However, I was surprised to see on Amazon that it has 89 pages. I wish I could see a copy to know how a book that long held my infant attention.
The Tale of the Flopsy Bunnies by Beatrix Potter. originally published in 1909. This is number 10 in the Peter Rabbit series. Six wee bunnies go missing in this tale and are saved by Thomasina Tittlemouse (a woodmouse). I love the names in these books. We had a huge kitchen garden and I imagined the little bunnies coming to steal our lettuces in the night. As a slightly older child, I remember visiting Potter’s home, Hill Top, in the Lake District.
Can you remember those first picture books either from school or on your mother’s knee?