Tuesday, 14 April 2020

Books, books, and more books! by Lynne Benton

I spent much time trying to decide what this blog should be about, given that most of us have only one thing on our minds at the moment.  In the end I decided it had to be something to brighten our day, since in spite of everything, there are some good things to be said for this current lockdown.
So what did I decide? 

Books, of course!  Books!  And time to read them!

When I read a good book I soon find myself so immersed in the story that I barely notice if anyone speaks to me, because I’m in the world of my book.  I know the characters better than I know my friends, and I feel as if I know the setting too, and the atmosphere.  Surely there is no better time than now to get lost in a book!

Having read and enjoyed Vanessa’s blog of two days ago about comfort reading when she was a child, I was reminded of the books I particularly loved at the age of eleven.  I suppose they were comfort reading, though I never thought of them as such at the time.  They were just my own private worlds.   Four of my all-time favourites spring to mind:

1:    Anne of Green Gables, by Lucy Maud Montgomery.  

This, as surely everyone knows, is the story of orphan Anne Shirley who is mistakenly sent to live with elderly brother and sister Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert on Prince Edward Island, and how she turns their lives around as much as they turn hers.  Anne is a delightful character who wants to be a writer (inspiration there, then!) and I entirely empathised with her and felt as though she was my best friend, and as though I knew the island better than my own home.

2:    White Boots, by Noel Streatfeild.  

Noel Streatfeild wrote many books about children with various different talents who found their niche, as in “Ballet Shoes” (which I didn’t choose because Vanessa had already chosen it, though it was also one I loved) or in “White Boots” when Harriet, whose doctor advised her to learn to skate after an illness, and finds herself caught up in the world of ice skating.  I first heard it dramatised on “Children’s Hour” on the radio, and subsequently found the book, and a great many of Streatfeild’s others, in the library and discovered I loved them all!

3:    The Swish of the Curtain, by Pamela Brown.  

This too I first heard dramatised on “Children’s Hour”  (a wonderful way of introducing listeners to new books, authors etc.) and is the story of a group of older children who find a disused hall with a stage and set up their own theatre company.  Again I found it and subsequent books in the series in the library, and fell under their spell.  I wished so much that I could find a group of friends with similar ambitions, and I even remember cycling around my home area looking for a disused hall that might serve as the Blue Door Theatre, but to no avail.

4:    Wings over Witchend, by Malcolm Saville.  

I was introduced to this series about the Lone Pine Club by my form teacher in the first year of the grammar school – she read one book from the series to us, and I really loved it, so went hotfoot to the library to see if I could find it and others in the series.  I was lucky, and read most of them, and again became so involved in the stories of this group of older children who formed the Lone Pine Club and solved mysteries in and around the Long Mynd in Shropshire that I tried to form my own Lone Pine Club among my friends, though none of them loved the books as much as I did!

I realise now that I may not have been so caught up in (obsessed by?) all these series had it not been for the library!  I could always go and borrow more books in the series, or more by the same author – it was wonderful!  I appreciate that things are different these days, that people can buy books quite cheaply online, or in Charity shops, or can download them on their kindles, but they still cost money, which in many families is in short supply.  Wouldn’t it be fantastic if, by the time this lockdown is over, the government has realised how vital libraries are for encouraging children to read – and decides to reinstate more of them?


Ms. Yingling said...

I was just thinking the same thing about the value of libraries. Being away from my students and not being able to hand them books has been difficult. I'll have to see if I can locate White Boots; I loved Anne, but have grown tired of her.

Sue Purkiss said...

I remember reading the Lone Pine series - like you, I borrowed them from the library - but I can't remember anything about them now. Must revisit! I loved Anne and Noel Streatfield, but I don't think I ever came across Pamela Brown. Thanks, Lynne - lovely cheery post!