Posted in Books

Favourite Books-1

 

When I was around four years old, my family and I moved to Mt Abu where we lived in a huge house called Eagle’s Nest, perched on a small hill. Apart from the other aspects of the place, I remember the books I read there, in different corners of the house, or on a rock in the garden.  Among the earliest books, two were my favourites, Whose Little Bird am I?, and a book about a koala bear named Wish. The second was one I liked so much, that I requested twelve live Koala bears as a present for Christmas. I am not sure why despite living in India and not being Christians I was writing a letter to Father Christmas [no Santa Claus those days]. Was it because of the Catholic school I was going to? Or was it a family tradition, a remnant of British days?

My mother, a well-known writer used to review books for both adults and children, and many of my favourites were among those, perhaps Wish had arrived as a book for review, the year would be 1958. She also wrote about the oddities of her children, and my request for twelve koala bears formed one of her articles.

Looking up the internet I found Whose Little Bird am I. It is by Leonard Weisgard, and a second edition is still available on Amazon. But I could not find anything about Wish, the koala. I located a good site for old children’s books,  www.oldchildrensbooks.com, but there was nothing there on Wish.

So if anyone who reads this knows about this book, do let me know.

These two books remained my favourites, even as I progressed to more complex reading, including Enid Blyton, James Barrie’s Peter Pan, A.A. Milne’s Pooh books and poems, Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, Anna Sewell’s Black Beauty. I still remember the horror I felt while reading Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Apart from these classics there were many more, including Wild Animals I have Known, that had several sad stories, fairy tales from across the world, poems, stories of all kinds. In non-fiction I was fascinated by The Buildings of Ancient Egypt and the Golden Book of Astronomy.

We moved from there when I was around eight or nine. Before that I had started on adult fiction. The very first adult book I read was called Capitan China. I never forgot it as for an eight-year old or perhaps eight-and-a-half, it was fascinating and scary.  Looking it up on the net I found it was by Susan Yorke, first published in 1961, it must have been one of my mother’s review books that I picked up. If I remember right, this was about a Malay peasant girl, planting rice, who looks up, finds that no one observes her, and decides to walk away. Many adventures follow, she lands up in a brothel, is sold to some king or chief, has to make a journey across the seas to him, and along the journey has an Italian guard–he teaches her about the world, answers her simple questions on life and god, and they fall in love. Was his name Cavileri? Perhaps. Anyway reaching their destination, she is given to Cavileri as a gift by the king, they are married [?], but she has this horrid job of counting heads in some war, and as Cavileri is fighting in the war,she one day gets his cut off head. Going off in grief into the jungle, she is bitten by a snake and dies.  I remember this book as its powerful story haunted me for many years, and I reread it several times, though perhaps if I had read it as an adult, it would not have meant much.

On the net I find Susan Yorke was born 24 March 1915 in Mannheim, Germany, moved to Australia in 1965, and died 4 May 1997 in Sydney, New South Wales. She wrote thirteen books.

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Author:

A writer with eight published books and several articles, book reviews etc. I primarily write on history and religion, but would love to switch to fiction.

14 thoughts on “Favourite Books-1

  1. I can’t help with the koala called Wish; the only koala I remember in children’s books is Blinky Bill. The Blinky Bill books are now regarded as an Australian children’s classic. As a child I enjoyed fairy tales, folklore and mythology from around the world. Plus ghost stories, although they terrified me! And, of course, Enid Blyton. Everyone read her, although she came in for a lot of unfair criticism in New Zealand. Unfair, because people overlooked the fact that she wrote novels (e.g. the Famous Five series) that newly literate 5-year-olds could read. I think the first adult books I read were crime fiction, which my mother and father both liked.

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    1. I saw the Blinky Bill books on the net but have never read them. Ghost stories–I’ve never been too happy with. I read the Famous Five books, but had begun with the even simpler Noddy series. Today some of her books are considered politically incorrect, why was she criticized in New Zealand? I too read crime fiction–starting with Agatha Christie. I carried on reading children’s books along with adult ones–and I still do at times.

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      1. I think she was accused of writing banal tales with too limited a vocab, lacking in realism, and of being “too English”. In the 1950s her books weren’t available in school libraries, or in our local library which otherwise had a huge children’s section. That would have helped her sales! I didn’t pay much attention to the disapproval, but was well aware of it. My parents believed in letting children read whatever they liked, but I had a couple of friends who weren’t allowed to read her books. Of course, they did – at their friends’ houses.

        There was also a view at the time that children should read books “relevant to their own experience” – extraordinarily silly on a number of levels. Children, like adults, enjoy escapism. The international popularity of her books shows that she wrote what children around the world wanted to read. It’s pretty rare to come across anyone nowadays who doesn’t remember some of her stories and books with great affection.

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  2. Very cool to know about your childhood reads; I read Enid Blyton as well, although much much later than you probably; But the most popular children’s fiction when I was growing up were the Harry Potter series haha. My first adult fiction was probably The Inheritancr of the Loss, at the end of which, I myself was at a loss, I must have been in 7th grade at that time.

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    1. Enid Blyton must have been a genius, her books seem to be popular all over the world. I read a few Harry Potter as an adult–and found them too dark and depressing! I think children are less sensitive to certain nuances then adults. The Inheritance of loss was probably not the right book to start with.

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      1. Yes, I know. But after that I read loads of crime thrillers like Agatha Christie and then moved on to Robert Ludlum and now, I somehow enjoy non-fiction more; specifically historical accounts – I would love to ask you sometime about suggestions on that as well although I suppose such books would be harded to find..(?) 🙂

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      2. Historical accounts there are quite a lot–a number of memoirs for instance. Red Scarf Girl is a children’s book but you may like to read it. A horrific account of the Cultural Revolution.

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  3. I still have an old, battered copy of the book about Wish the Koala who found a magic nut. I too was given it when I was small, by a friend of my parents who was visiting England from Australia. It was one of my favourites and l wouldn’t part with it, but could scan it if that would be any use to you.

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  4. I think my earliest memory of reading was either having the first Harry Potter book read to me by my mum or reading the Chronicles of Narnia (narnia wants to autocorrect to anaemia… not quite the same thing haha). Was also a fan of The Famous Five books when I was younger too. Not sure I’d class it as my favourites now but reading your blog brought back some good memories and you might have inspired me to write a blog post on books myself 🙂 xx

    https://tenmoreminutesblog.wordpress.com

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