Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Re-Visiting Childhood Friends

My sister recently re-discovered a much-loved Golden Book Classic from our childhood—I Can Fly by Ruth Krause, illustrated by Mary Blair. This charming little book was loved by our whole family—because the little heroine reminded us of a new baby in our midst. So seeing it again was a delight.

The illustrations are, perhaps, not so new and innovative as they once seemed, but when a book (or a person) is loved, being a bit old and out of date doesn’t make them less lovable! So, with old favorites on my mind, I went in search of more Golden Books in my local bookstore. There I found my old friends—The Shy Little Kitten, The Saggy Baggy Elephant and Tootle! How I had loved Tootle! They were all so real to me—I loved them intensely. Harder to find might be some my other old friends—I greatly appreciated Marcia Brown’s version of Cinderella. I was already an art critic, apparently, and I considered her illustrations quite wondrous (I still do!) I was very taken with The Fuzzy Little Kitten which had fake fur on the cover kitten and—a huge favorite—Johnny Fedora and Alice Bluebonnet (about two hats!)

Who can say why children love the books they do? Their imaginations are boundless, they choose to believe what they read is real. They are hungry for stories and eager to climb right into those stories themselves—accompanied by a round-faced cat, a smiling train or a hat with long eyelashes. Once we grow up, books may never again be so comforting, so passionately loved. And though e-books are here to stay, I can’t believe that a ‘book’ that you can’t comfortably snuggle up with will ever be remembered with such joy.....

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