Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O’Brien
Do you tend to remember things from childhood as bigger than they seem now; because you were smaller, things felt bigger? I’ve found the same principle applies to some books from my childhood. “Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH” is one of those books. I remember the story as a great adventure. Now, having re-read it, it is a much simpler story. And while that by no means lessened my enjoyment of the book, it was a different experience than I recalled. Much of the middle of the story is dedicated to the explanation of how the Rats of NIMH came to be and why they are living under the farmer’s rosebush. I did not remember much of this part of the story and it was a nice surprise reading it again. All in all, “Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH” is still a classic. It holds up very well for a book written almost 40 years ago.
My Stories from Days Gone By series revisits books from my childhood to see how they read today.
The Baby-Sitters Club #1 – Kristy’s Great Idea by Ann M. Martin
It’s been a long time since I read this book, the first in the prolific series. Although I have memories of “The Baby-Sitters Club” as a mainstay of my childhood reading, I could not remember many details. The writing is simplistic and very 80s. I laughed a couple of times when there were descriptions of clothing. Despite some slightly dated references, I feel that the plots–in not just this book but the series–are good, clean, fun stories for kids growing up. They are educational without being boring and have morality without being preachy. All in all, I will declare that “The Baby-Sitters Club” holds up rather well over time.
Another in my occasional series re-reading books from my childhood…
The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle by Hugh Lofting
Review: I remember this book very fondly. It was one of the many Newberry award-winning books I read as a kid. Being written in 1922, some of the language is old-fashioned but I would say that it holds up exceedingly well. It is still well-written and an entertaining adventure. It’s hard for me to read the book without picturing Rex Harrison (from the 1967 film) as Dr. Dolittle but it doesn’t necessarily hinder my enjoyment of the story.
Another entry in my occasional series revisiting books from my childhood…
Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell
Based on the true story of an Indian girl who lived on a small island off the coast of California by herself for 18 years in the mid-1800s, this novel by Scott O’Dell stayed on my bookshelf for a long time. The writing is very simple because it was written for children but still very visual. It is still a good story but I have to admit remembering it more fondly than what I just read. Some parts seemed less interesting than I remember. Overall, I would say that this is still an excellent novel for a well-read child but doesn’t quite hold up into adulthood.
And now it’s time for another story from days gone by, my occasional series reviewing books from childhood.
This entry is a little bit different because I read the graphic novel version of “A Wrinkle in Time,” rather than the original version but since the story is the same and I have been meaning to read this book, I figured why not?
Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time: The Graphic Novel by Hope Larson
Review: Wow! I’d forgotten a lot about this book especially the fact that it is pretty trippy. All the weirdness was compounded by being able to visualize the different worlds and Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, Mrs. Which and Aunt Beast. The art was pretty good. I would have liked to have seen more color instead of just black, white and ice blue, but I understand that it was an artistic decision. In my opinion, I would say that although still a good story, “A Wrinkle in Time” doesn’t hold up to time as well as some of the other stories I’ve re-read.
And now… another in my occasional series revisiting books from childhood.
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
Review: I’d forgotten how short this book is. The version I read is only 189 pages with a fairly good size font and pictures. My memories of the story seemed far more epic than 189 pages. Nonetheless, the story holds up remarkably well for having been published in 1950. The world of Narnia feels just a vast and fantastical as I remember. My one complaint is that reading it as an adult, I want an even more in-depth story whereas as a child I was simply awed by the story on the page. But, all in all, still a classic.
Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
Review: Nostalgia alert! This was my favorite book growing up so read this review through my rose colored glasses. It’s hard for me to point to exactly what speaks to me about this story but I still end up crying at the end. It’s weird because I don’t necessarily relate to the two main characters and I don’t really think I ever did but what they go through seems to engross me. The coming-of-age story hits me with its focus on friendship, the importance of having someone accept you for who you are and the power of imagination. Even after all these years, still a classic for me.
The first in my occasional series revisiting some books from childhood.
The View from Saturday by E.L. Konigsburg
Review: I remember this as one of my favorite books from when I was a kid. I’ve read it a number of times and it continues to be a favorite even now. The story has just enough quirkiness to make me smile but not so much as to be inaccessible. It’s about smarts over popularity and being kind to one another. The story also revolves around trivia which I always love and it has an ethereal/philosophical aspect that I can’t quite describe but warms my heart. Overall, still holds up now.