Whilst browsing at the library this week I came across a copy of John Wyndham’s The Chrysalids and remembered that I really enjoyed it as a teenager. Actually, it did have a bit of an effect on me due to its content. You see, I didn’t (and still don’t) have flat toenails! Did that make me a mutant in the eyes of the characters in The Chrysalids? Apparently so, and it certainly made me feel like one for a very long time J I was young and impressionable, but now I don’t obsess over it so much, plus I keep my toenails nice and short so it’s no longer an issue! However, picking this novel up to read again got me thinking about what my favourite novels had been as a youngster.
Absolutely top of the list, though it is not a novel, has to be Robert Louis Stevenson’s A Child’s Garden of Verses illustrated by Hilda Boswell. I adored this book. The poems could be read over and over, and still I discovered more meaning within them. My younger self often wondered ‘why did Auntie's skirts rustle so?’ and ‘what was a counterpane?’ I often thought about that boy and his shadow and also the bucket full of stars. The poem that I loved the most was The Land of Nod, not so much for the poem itself but for the illustrations that somehow thrilled me but frightened me with equal measure.
Second on the list would have to be Five Go to Smuggler’s Top by Enid Blyton. I took this book on holiday to
Scotland with me and have a distinct memory of sitting on a large rock near a Loch in a pair of shorts and a jumper (I was obviously prepared for all weather events) lost in reading about the Famous Five. I had a secret crush on Julian and I read this book over and over again during the course of our holiday.
Another novel I borrowed from the library many times was Down Bound Train by Bill Garnet (though now I’m older I think it was more of a novella), and it was probably my first foray into horror, albeit of the ‘pulp’ kind. I loved how the characters caught this train only to find each one had a nasty secret and at the end of the journey they find their final stop is actually in Hell. All, that is, except for one innocent passenger who sleeps through the entire journey. It was real Twilight Zone stuff. I think I read the 1973 edition, which had a green and black cover from memory. I haven’t been able to find a copy with this cover but would love to read it again just for fun.
As a youngster I must have read all the Famous Five and Secret Seven novels, I enjoyed Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys and even Hitchcock’s The Three Detectives, but the three books above have always remained fondly in my memory and were my absolute favourites. So, what were yours?