Books for children
Can you remember the books you loved as a child? The books your parents read to you and then, when you were able to, the books you read over and over again? I used to feel transported to another realm. I remember crying over the poor Mock Turtle when my mother read me Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland because I really believed he would be made into soup. I remember feeling sorry for Eeyore on his own in that damp and gloomy part of the Hundred Acre Wood in Winnie the Pooh and I vividly recall the fascination I felt when Mary Lennox found the secret walled garden and when she heard the screams in the night in that dark, old house on the edge of the Yorkshire Moors in The Secret Garden.
Winnie the Pooh is not just for children
The A. A. Milne books about Winnie the Pooh and his pals were a great favourite and I particularly liked the map inside the cover. I found one of my old Winnie the Pooh books the other day and discovered that I had coloured in the map with crayons. One of my treasured books is an old edition that used to belong to my mother and, thankfully, I don’t appear to have defaced that one. It has a dark green cover with small gold figures of the characters.
Much of the wisdom found in Winnie the Pooh can be applied to our adult lives. Such as: “If the person you are talking to doesn't appear to be listening, be patient. It may simply be that he has a small piece of fluff in his ear .” I need to remember that one.
And here’s a lovely sentimental quote: “I think we dream so we don’t have to be apart for so long. If we’re in each other’s dreams, we can be together all the time.”
The madness of Alice in Wonderland
Were you a fan of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland? This book is filled with off the wall characters and curious riddles. It was written by Lewis Carroll and first published in 1865. My mother loved reading us this and I vividly remember the Cheshire Cat who used to disappear slowly, leaving the smile until last. The Madhatter’s Tea Party was hilarious but I never blamed Alice for losing patience with them all in the end and flouncing off as the March Hare and the Hatter were trying to stuff the poor Dormouse into the teapot. The game of croquet amused me too where they used flamingos for mallets and hedgehogs as balls. The hedgehogs added another level of challenge as they kept unrolling and crawling away.
The Secret Garden - for older children and adults of any age
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett was first published in 1911 and is considered an English classic for children. Mary Lennox is orphaned in India when her parents and their servants die from cholera. She is adopted by her uncle who owns a large, rambling house on the edge of the Yorkshire Moors. She’s only ten years old and has grown up spoilt and contrary from lack of parental attention; far too used to clapping her hands and servants jumping to serve her. She’s in for a rude awakening at Misselthwaite Manor. Through her friendship with local boy Dickon, who has a wonderful gift of taming wild animals and gaining their trust, and also her love of gardening, Mary begins to change. It’s a story about the redeeming power of friendship and nature.
She finds a secret walled garden that has been shut up for ten years and she resolves to tell no one about it and work in it herself to bring the plants back to life. The plot has a touch of Gothic when she hears loud screams in the night, echoing down the dark corridors of the old house. I won’t say who is screaming, just in case you haven’t read it. I recently listened to it on audio and it springs to life. My husband has heard it many times over.
If you have any favourite children’s books, I’d love to hear about them.
Winnie-The-Pooh by A A Milne
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
If you would like to read more about my own book, The Neglected Garden, a novel set in a walled garden in Ireland and seeded with mystery, romance and suspense, click the button below.