|In the small country school where I moved at the end of 1956, one was simply invisible if one was not sporty. I could not run. I could not wrestle. I could not shoot for goal. I could not slide into base. That ruled out just about everything: athletics, netball, and softball. I could not swim either, but that only mattered when I went to high school. I guess it was a big deal being ostracised like that, but I tried to find other things to do. I loved reading, so from very early on I became the student librarian, yes, even from Third Class. I stamped books in; I stamped books out. I covered books with plastic. I made sure books were in the correct order on the shelves. I also added new acquisitions to the ledger. Which meant I invariably read them first.|
|I was not alone in my adoration of the Bobbsey Twins. Even the shooters and sliders were keen. Keen enough to object to my always getting the new ones first, and being smug about it. So, rules about sharing were introduced. Blast 'em! But I took my time, and just branched out a bit. I sobbed and heaved over "Black Beauty". I braved the icy wilds of Alaska in "Call of the Wild". And there was one particular Ladybird Book about a seaside donkey who was mistreated and alone, that tugged at the heart-strings to such an extent that the images are still vivid and readily brought to mind. The imagination is such a wondrous thing.|
|I did not know this at the time, but Laura Lee Hope did not exist . She was about 10 different writers who took it in turn to conjure adventures for Nan and Bert, Freddie and Flossie. The similarity here to Blyton;s FF is striking. But probably only to an adult. Blyton came up with Julian, Dick, Georgina, and Anne, with the fifth being Timmy the dog. I remember in the '80s reading Susan Cooper's "Dark is Rising" series to my children, and realising it was a more complex, better quality concept.|
Kirsten has asked me a number of times why I never read FF or BT or Twins to my own children. I guess I am a book snob. It's the only way I can explain it. I adored them, and they meant the world to me. But I was coming off a very low base, an arid plain. Life is short, and choices have to be made. I read them lots of other books, like, "The Indian in the Cupboard", Victor Cannings "Smiler" trilogy, and Mary Norton's "Borrowers" series. To cite but a few.