More of My Favorite Books from Childhood

I made a post several weeks ago about my favorite books from childhood. There were way too many for one single post, so here’s part two of that list. But as I was searching my shelves for all my beloved children’s books (because for the most part I still have all my original editions), I realized that I actually need to make a third list of my favorite children’s books that I didn’t discover until I was grown up. So that will be coming out in a future blog post. In the meantime, read on:

Hank the Cowdog by John R. Erickson. When I was in the second or third grade, my school invited this author to come read to us. My whole grade shuffled into the gym and sat on the floor, facing a single three-legged stool they had set aside for Erickson. Even though his books are all about this scruffy mutt working out on a dusty Texas ranch, I was still expecting a pretty regular, clean-cut looking man to come out to speak to us. Someone in khaki pants and a tucked-in, collared shirt like every other speaker they brought in. But instead, in walks this lanky, dirty cowboy with blue jeans and cowboy boots, looking like his rode his horse all the way to the gym doors. The very first thing he did was squat down on that stool, remove the bubblegum from his mouth, and stick it right under the stool. I don’t even remember what he talked to us about, because I was just so hyper-focused on that detail. He had broken TWO rules and NOT A SINGLE TEACHER said anything about it! He certainly knew how to impress a bunch of 8-year olds.

Hatchet by Gary Paulsen. Every time I read this story, I am so impressed with Brian’s ingenuity and resilience. He has to think through every single problem, and once he’s solved one issue there’s no guarantee that it won’t all fall apart and he’ll be forced to start over. It’s a tedious and lonely existence in the Canadian wilderness, and I especially like how Paulsen sticks with Brian the whole time – no flashing around to a search and rescue squad’s endeavors to find him or to his parents back at home, grieving the loss of their son. We have no idea what’s going to happen to Brian all the way up until the very end.

Fairy Tales by…everyone. It was never about the princesses, or the treasure. It was about the dogs with eyes as large as dinner plates. It was about the house built up on chicken legs. It was about the horse that still gave its mistress good advice even after its head was nailed to a bridge. I loved the bizarre simplicity and preciseness of all the explanations, e.g. a mermaid can obtain a soul if she witnesses only good children for 300 years, a sister can turn her bewitched brothers back to human if she spins shirts from flax and doesn’t say a word for seven years. The authors never bothered with logic or explanations, which you could not get away with today. And I loved it.

The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner. I think as soon as children recognize they have control of their own bodies, they want to go on an adventure without their parents. The Boxcar Children did exactly what I wanted to do – make my own house in the woods with all my own stuff of my own choosing, with no grown-ups allowed. The four brothers and sisters get along just fine with their rusted spoons and waterfall refrigeration. Well, until Violet goes and mucks it all up by getting sick. Then they have to go live in a real house with their grandfather, who has their little boxcar transferred to his backyard. I didn’t care to read any more Boxcar children books after that first one, because if they weren’t living all by themselves in the wilderness, then I didn’t care what they got up to.

While I was compiling this list, I realized that I actually have at least another half-dozen books on my shelves that I’ve read over and over again. I’m not sentimentally attached to them, they way I am to the previously mentioned stories, so I think I’ll throw them on a future list entitled, “Books that I Really, Really Liked, but They’re Not, Like, My Favorite or Anything.”

Published by Kate Landers

A writer, among other things. Former Texan now living in Tennessee.

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