Since this week is Children’s Book Week, I thought it would be a good time to talk about the kids books that I grew up loving. Of course, there were the essentials: Shel Silverstein, Dr. Seuss, Maurice Sendak and things like that. I could do an entire series of posts on how much I love Shel Silverstein’s poetry and my take on The Giving Tree. But instead, I wanted to talk about some of the more obscure books I grew up loving, the ones that are slightly off the beaten track.
It’s funny, there are books that almost no one has ever heard of but that I remember so vividly and so fondly. Even my own sisters seem to have missed out on them but they were such a big part of my childhood.
The first is Tiger Flower by Robert Vavra. The story is about a tiger who gets whisked away to a land where everything that should be big is small and everything that should be small is big and now, instead of being the king of the towering green jungle, he perches on a blade of grass and rules as Tiger Flower, King of the Grass. The story was interesting but what stands out in my memory is the amazing artwork. My mom and I read this book over and over again when I was little and I still have a tattered copy of the book tucked away safely in my hope chest where I occasionally take it out for a read. (It would have a place of pride with my other books but it’s a little too fragile for book shelf life).
Another favorite was The King at the Door by Brock Cole. This utterly adorable book is about a serving boy who works at a local inn and the ordinary looking man who arrives claiming to be the king out for a walk around his kingdom. Despite the fact that everyone else reacts to the king’s claim with ridicule, Little Baggit believes in the king and treats him with all the humble kindness he can muster. I have no idea what happened to my childhood copy of this book, which breaks my heart because it is out of print and I haven’t been able to get my hands on another copy. But if you are lucky enough to come across this book, I highly recommend you grab hold of it. It really is a treat!
Lastly, there is The Ordinary Princess by M. M. Kaye. This lovely book is beyond charming with the sweetest illustrations! There has never been a time, no matter what age I am, when reading The Ordinary Princess didn’t make me smile. The story is about the Princess Amethyst Alexandra Augusta Araminta Adelaide Aurelia Anne (aka Princess Amy) whose fairy godmother gives her the gift of being ordinary at her Christening. And so, instead of being blond, lady-like, and lovely like her older sisters, Amy has mousy brown hair, a snub nose with freckles, and a distressing habit of running off to the woods to climb trees. Happily this wonderful book is back in print so I have been able to get copies for my young nieces.
I could go on and on about all the books that I loved as a kid but I would love to hear from you! What books did you read over and over again? Which books do you read to your kids / grandkids? Did any of you grow up loving Tiger Flower or the Ordinary Princess?