Friday, September 18, 2009

Vintage Book Reviews

by Scott Rhoades

I want to join the book review parade, but I'm going to do something a little different: review some books that meant a lot to me as a child. Because I'm older than many of you, some of you might not have heard of these. If you can find them, grab them.

The first book is one my grandmother used to read to me when I visited, Journey Cake, Ho! by Ruth Sawyer, and illustrated by Robert McCloskey. It's about a boy whose family is so poor, his mother sends him away, with nothing by a journey cake. The cake rolls off and leads him on an adventure that ends up at a new farm with lots of animals, so his family is reunited in much better shape than they were before. I was lucky enough to find this book several years ago at a flea market. I hadn't seen it for around 30 years by then, and it still delighted me just as much as it did back then.

There was another book I always made Grandma read to me over and over, but I don't know the name. It was about a boy who woke up one morning and he was a giant. He went through the day as a giant, until his mother tucked him at night as a little boy again. At least that's how I remember it. If you know the book, let me know. I'd love to find it again.

The next one I want to talk about is a chapter book I used to check out from the school library or the city library several times a year, probably around second or third grade: The Enormous Egg by Oliver Butterworth. A 12-year-old named Nate Twitchell goes out to check the chickens one morning and discovers that one of them has laid a gigantic egg. The egg attracts all kinds of attention, but not nearly as much as the triceratops that hatches from it. I reread this old favorite a few months ago--fortunately, it's still in print--and was still delighted by Nate's story. Plus, to my surprise, there's a hilarious scene when Congress debates what to do with the dinosaur, a scene that went over my head when I was seven or eight.

I had a lot of other favorites. I loved the Homer Price stories, the Hardy Boys, a book about a football player called The Rookie, and bonafide classics like The Cay and Harriett the Spy.

I'm curious. What books did you love as a kid? I'm not talking about the usual classics like Where the Wild Things Are or Harold and the Purple Crayon. I'm talking about books that were popular when you were little that we might not have heard of?


Sarah said...

Sam the Fire Cat! And the Frog and Toad books!

I have a children's version of Pilgrim's Progress called "Little Pilgrim's Progress" that is one of my old-time favorites. I have the copy that my grandma read to my mom when she was a kid.

And you can't beat the original Dick and Jane books for some great literature! ;o)

Anonymous said...

I read Mr. Popper's Penguins, The Five Little Peppers and How They Grew and as I can't remember more these were the stand-outs in my childhood. I read more in high school and they were not for pleasure but for high school assignments and points toward grades.