I’m always a little surprised when I come across a book on the shelves in the Children’s Department that I completely loved as a child…especially some of the ones that I thought only I would still remember. Because let’s face it, it’s been a really long time since I was in elementary school, and I wasn’t always reading the classics. But it happens! And suddenly I can still recall whether it was a book I read with a flashlight under my blanket, or while swinging in the wicker egg chair that hung from my bedroom ceiling, or if it was read aloud by my 5th grade teacher, Mrs. Brown, down in the great state of Texas. Here are a few of the stories that have stayed with me for over—(gulp)—35 years! Some you may recognize, and some you might not, but when reading a book creates an experience that you remember for decades (and decades)…well, I think that’s something worth talking about.
Mrs. Piggle Wiggle has a cure for everything! The Never-Want-to-Go-to-Bedders Cure, The Slow-Eater-Tiny-Bite-Taker Cure, and of course, The Radish Cure. She’s fun, quirky, and kind. She loves children and she smells like cookies. What more could you want? She’s the plump, eccentric woman I wished lived down the street from me as a kid…and to this day, she’s still popular enough to warrant a reboot series for yet another generation. Book 1 is hot off the presses with Book 2 due to arrive in 2017!
I’ll be honest, when I stumbled on this one in our collection I gasped. I adored this book as a kid. It was one of my super special—Apple paperback—Scholastic Book Fair finds. Katie was quiet, bookish, and felt like she was different. I’m sure it’s shocking that, as an 11-year-old girl, I completely identified with her. And who doesn’t dream of having special powers? I mean eventually we got Harry Potter, but back in the 80s, silver eyes and telekinesis were pretty darn intriguing.
You know those days when you just want to read a book with all the feels? Well for my 10-year-old self, this was it. Another of my treasures from the school book fair (remember when those were actually affordable?), Sara Crewe’s riches-to-rags orphan tale captured my imagination and my heart. Through exotic glimpses of India, the atrocious boarding school headmistress Miss Minchin, the loss of Sara’s father, and the consistent manifestation of Sara’s noble and kind heart, Burnett weaved a heartwarming and enchanting story. While it never garnered quite the same recognition as THE SECRET GARDEN (which also has a recently-published continuation tale, this beloved book is what likely began my love for Victorian literature. Be sure to catch the delightful film version as well!
Nancy Drew anyone? A consummate classic, and I definitely read far more than this single installment. While the specific plot points may not be seared in my memory, the Nancy Drew mysteries were and still are a fantastic, tame entry into the realm of mystery fiction for those looking for an innocent spine tingler. If the original Mystery series seems too dated for your taste, several recent spinoffs (with a more independent, cell-phone-carrying, hybrid-electric-car-driving Nancy) have been published, including The Nancy Drew Files, Girl Detective series, and Nancy Drew Diaries.
INTO THE DREAM
By William Sleator
This. Book. This was the book that my 5th grade teacher read aloud that was driving me crazy because I could not for the life of me remember the title. But I LOVED this book. I know you know how it is because you come to the reference desk and do the same thing— “Do you remember a book from the 80s about a boy and a girl that’s really, really good? It has something to do with a ferris wheel, a UFO, and ESP?” Yep, that was me. And let me tell you, when I finally figured out what it was, I literally did a happy dance in the Children’s Department. Unfortunately this title is not currently in our collection (hopefully it will be soon—we’re working on that), but it is available on Amazon, and you’d better believe that thanks to Prime, it’ll be on my doorstep the day after tomorrow!