Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Reminiscing about books from my past.

By Jenny Blake

As today is my 50th Birthday I have been creating a memory album with a difference. The idea for the album came about because at the start of the year I was waiting to see the specialist about having my gall bladder removed due to a nasty attack in Dec. I have been having issues for a few years only I didn’t realise the reason. I thought the surgery would be last week and that I would be still recovering. I thought of creating an album where friends from around the world could send a memory, note or blessing with a photo to include. The album has turned out much better than I expected as I can look at the notes and photos for years to come when I need encouragement.

This takes me to this blog post. In the album I have a few photos of me as a child and one of the first gifts I remember as a child was a cute little blue basket. The next birthday present that I remember is a book with 3 fairy tales in it. It was from Mum and Dad and became my favourite story book. I was about 6 at the time. I had never heard of The Snow Queen before but it quickly became my favourite fairy tale of all time and still is. The other 2 stories were The Ugly Duckling and The Flying Trunk. I took this book to share at show and tell at school and read it over and over. I still have my copy and you can see it was well loved.


I was given books quite often as a birthday gift including many of Enid Blytons books. My next books that became my favourites were the Magic Faraway Series. I so wanted to have that tree near me and climb to those lands at the top of the tree. I remember being given Mr Gilliano’s Circus and also the Naughtiest Girl at School. I loved all the series.

When I was about 11 I remember being given Pollyanna. Mum said she read this series as a child. She had loved the series and wanted to share it.

The year I turned 16 Mum gave me the first 4 books in a series she loved as a teen, Little Bush Maid by Mary Grant Bruce and I fell in love with this series.

I loved reading as a child and when I was at school every month we would take home an order form for a book club which we could order books at a very good price. I bought some really good books that became my favourites from the club. (Mum and Dad also bought some for gifts for me). I remember Helen Keller’s teacher and Betsy were two books I loved and still have to this day. They were clean books that parents knew would be safe to buy a child unlike many books these days. I have to also mention I bought the Narnia series after receiving the first one for myself and tried to get through my wardrobe and the other series that impacted me. Little House on the Prairre which I have been watching while I have been recovering.


Do you have memories of a special book you were given as a child or do you have favourite books that stick in your memory from childhood? Please share and join with the spread of cup cakes and milk shakes (hot chocolate for my North American friends who are freezing)

JENNY BLAKE (aka Ausjenny) is an avid reader. When not reading she enjoys watching cricket, in fact you could call her a cricket fanatic, scrapbooking and jigsaws. She volunteers at the local Christian bookshop where she can recommend books to customers. Her book blog is where she reviews books and interview authors. Her goal is to help promote new books and encourage authors. Her blog is athttp://ausjenny.blogspot.com and is Co-Founder ofhttp://acrba.blogspot.com

31 comments:

  1. Happy Birthday Jenny :) I love the concept of your memory album. Enid Blyton was one of my favourite authors. My mother would read to me each evening and I'd frustrate her by not going to sleep because I wanted to know what happened next. The faraway tree books were one of my favourite series. Is it too early for cupcakes? A chocolate cupcake and a vanilla milkshake is my preference. Enjoy your birthday celebrations :)

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    1. Thanks Narelle its been really fun and part of the reason is that its full of encouragement and memories that when I need it I can see I am cared for.

      never to early for cup cakes and milkshakes. Oh and I am adding all sorts of ice creams I am hankering for a banana sundae no nuts.

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    2. Calorie free virtual ice cream sounds wonderful. Otherwise, I'll undo all the good work I put in at the gym this morning :)

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  2. Happy birthday from me too, Jenny! Sounds like you have some beautiful memories there in your album. Re favourite books, 'Heidi' sticks in my mind and also, 'What Katy Did' and the rest in that series. But my best discovery was the 'Anne' books--my Grade Three teacher at school lent them to me one after another and I was so sad when she left our school!

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    1. Thanks Jo-Beth, The album has turned out really good and I still have notes coming in.

      Mum gave me the first of the Anne books but I was too young. My reading level was below my age so struggled with them.

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  3. Happy Birthday, dear friend :) I hope your day is splendid.

    I remember crying my little kid heart out when I read Helen Keller's Teacher. That story stayed with me for a long time. So glad to read we share some of the same childhood favourites. xx

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    1. I'd love a gluten free, sugar free, dairy free birthday-cupcake with a really hot, long black coffee. ;)

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    2. Dotti in cyberspace there is not worries with allergies.

      Helen Keller's Teacher was special wasn't it. I think I still have my copy too. I read it so many times.

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  4. Happy birthday Jenny. Enjoy celebrating this important milestone.

    Wind in the Willows continues to hold a dear place in my heart. There was something magical about Toad, Badger, Mole and co's adventures which always put a big smile on my face whenever I read it.

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    1. Thanks Ian, been a good day so far, (had a ride and walk).

      I watched Wind in the Willows but never got to read it.

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  5. Happy Birthday, Jenny! Hope your day is delightful :) I adored Mary Grant Bruce, too - have all her Billabong books, including a couple that were my mum's copies as a child - love that!

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  6. Thanks Rel, I didn't read all the books but I read quite a few. A friends mum had some which she lent me then I was able to get the series which later got donated to the library.

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  7. Happy birthday, Jenny, did enjoy your post. Each milestone in life is a good time to look back before facing that next year. I too was given A Little Bush Maid by my grandmother and the whole Billabong series still has pride of place on my bookshelves. We obviously have similar reading tastes, Rel! I can still read Captain Jim and get all teary at one special part. I read it now as a writer. How did Mary Grant Bruce write so I still love her stories and have that "emotional experience"?

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    1. Thanks Mary, The Little Bush Maid was a well written book. I cried in parts of Captain Jim also. What they went through in the war was not good. Its interesting those older books still hold memories and have past the test of time. My mum read them over 80 years ago and loved them.

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    2. Ah, Wally...my childhood hero! The drama of his outback "adventure" was so heart wrenching!

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    3. I loved Wally, but for some reason it was Jim who was my favourite hero. My sister and I both loved these books so much that if we still mention Wally, Jim or Norah, the other immediately knows we are talking about our favourite fictional characters. We actually talked about this not so long go, wondering just why those books had become so "real" to us. We loved the family dynamics, the rural settings, the adventures and suspense, and of course especially those touches of romance between Wally and Norah, and later Jim and that English emigrant. However, as my sister reminded me, " we grew up with them all." Not sure how old we were when the last book, Billabong Riders was published but we were certainly older teenagers. So, as a writer what does that teach me about gaining loyal readers, creating great characters and stories that make a wonderful series?

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  8. Here's wishing you a very happy birthday, Jenny. I, too, loved all the books mentioned so far. I also enjoyed reading Grimm's and Anderson's fairy tales. Mum used to read them to me when I was very little, but by the time I was four I was given all their illustrated fairy tales.

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    1. Thanks Hazel having a great day. I had never heard the Snow Queen before and read it over and over. often only reading that story there was something special about that one.

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  9. Happy birthday Jenny - what a lovely idea to celebrate it :) It is always hard to pick out favourites but I would have to say the Narnia series had the most impact on my imaginative life and lead me into a lifetime love for all C S Lewis works, fiction and nonfiction. If there are some gluten free cup cakes - I have one or two (having spent yesterday evening at an event eyeing off some delicious morsels with pretty, swirling icing but knowing even a crumb would make me sick) and a coffee for me.

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    1. Thanks Jeanette, I loved the Narnia series also. I remember I had one book and friends had others in the series and we shared to read them all. I eventually bought them all. Remember cyber food is always food you can eat with no issue. (I could even eat nuts with cyber food but still am not willing to do it) I did see some gluten free cup cakes in the corner.

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  10. Happy Birthday Jenny. Some of my favourites were: What Kay Did, What Katy Did Next, Little Women and the rest of those books, Black Beauty ( the only horse book I ever read and Heidi plus lots of Norse, Roman and Greek myths. Don't think I ever had an Australian written book back then

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    1. Thanks Dale, I have heard of the Katy did books but never read them. I did read Little Women and Jo's boys I think it is. Another I loved was Seven Little Australians.

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  11. Happy Birthday, Jenny. My parents gave me "The Tanglewood Secret" by Patricia M. St John when I was seven and recovering from pneumonia. From then on I was an avid, if not obsessive reader, reading all my mother's old prize books while confined at home, along with all the classics from the school and public libraries when I was well. I still love going back to those old Victorian and Edwardian stories, especially Amy Le Feuvre and ALOE's old brown books.

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    1. Thanks Marion, I have heard of the Tanglewood Secret, I even read a few of her books.

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  12. Wow, you really touched a chord in us, Jenny. And a Big Happy, Happy Birthday and we hope it will be truly memorable!
    I loved the Anne books, Pollyanna, but she made me feel guilty as I thought I could never be as good as she was. Best of all as a younger child, I LOVED a book I saved up and bought with . twenty-two shillings and sixpence. Cuddlepot & Snugglepie by Mae Gibbs. We lived in the bush and I was always nervous of those bad Banksia Men when I walked by.

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    1. Thanks Rita, Its been memorable so far. Oh I should have gone riding after morning tea not before to work it off!
      My memory from Pollyanna was the prisms I forget his name the man who was never happy. He had prisms and I always wanted one to hang up to catch the light. Infact would still love one. I use to get 20 cents pocket money and would by the little golden books with it. Oh wow about the banksia men.

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  13. What memories! I adored the Famous Five and Little House on the Prairie books. And like you, over here in NZ we had the book service and I've still got some of those scholastic stories. Even my kids did when they were at school. Happy 50th - that was me last year. All good!!

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    1. I loved the secret seven til I read the famous five and then the secret seven seemed childish. I guess Enid Blyton knew how to write for the different ages of childhood. There was another was it Adventerous Four?
      Thanks Joanne for the birthday wishes. Its been good so far.

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  14. Hi Jenny,
    During my childhood, I'm sure I read and enjoyed every book mentioned by you and everyone who has commented. I was one of those kids who always had a book in my hand. It proves how special well-written children's books are, as we remember them nostalgically for all time.
    To add to the list, I loved all the Milly Molly Mandy stories by Joyce Lankester Brisley. She had such charming illustrations to go with these simple village stories about a cheerful little girl and her friends.

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    1. HI Paula,
      I think alot of the books back then were so different from today. I think some had older characters in them. Cherry Ames was a student nurse, Sally Baxter was a new reporter, Donna Parker was a junior camp councilor. Even Nancy drew was an older teen as was Anne in the latter books. In the Billibong books it goes way past Norah getting married. Pollyanna and Heidi start young but the next books they are grown and getting married.

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    2. I just read your comment, Jenny, after posting about the Billabong characters in reply to Rel's comment. One of the things Mary Grant Bruce did after Wally and Norah were married was to remember her readership would be younger readers. I think that must be why she introduced a new character, the young city boy from a difficult family background who joined the now older main characters with their many different adventures after gold was discovered. Guess you can tell how much I love those books? LOL.

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