Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Books that Help Me Regress...to 5

Everyone has a few books, movies, games, or toys that help them remember what 5 felt like. And sometimes being 5 again isn't such a bad thing. For most of us, the world was a whole lot smaller back then or conversely, perhaps it was bigger in scope of opportunities. Professions like dragon killer and fairy princess usually don't survive into adulthood. Though with the new online gaming thing combined with the older dungeons and dragons RPGs might have me wrong on that count.
Anyway, these are five books that make me feel warm and safe. This is not say that the content contained in these books are all rainbows and sunshines, but here the problems manifest themselves in obvious or more obvious ways than my problems do today.
1. The House on Pooh Corner by A. A. Milne
I didn't discover this gem until I was in my teens, but I was a great fan of the TV show on Disney. I know that's blasphemous. But as a teen, curled up somewhere on the floor, this book could send me back to those days when I still could have long conversations with my teddy bear, creatively named Teddy, and our long epic battles with my sister's stuffed dog, Sarah.
2. Good Night Veronica by Denise and Alain Trez
The is a picture book that was one of my absolute favorite bedtime stories as a small child. It's about a young girl named Veronica who can't fall asleep because it's so hot. She suddenly wakes up in a tree, which is much cooler. Her dog, I think his name is Otto-- we'll just call him that, gets very nervous and the tree shakes them out. Over the 20-some pages or so (I remember gorgeous pictures in a light palette), they slowly look for the tree but on the way get bombarded by a magical rain that makes everything grow (even Veronica's hair) and then drink from a magical stream that makes everything shrink. (except snails). Not to spoil ending, but eventually they find their tree and climb into bed. And now it's nice and cool.
I grew up in Southern California so this was a book that I could really relate to.
3. Fairytales
I had a cousin who was quite a few years older than me. She had a book of fairy tales on her bookshelf and we usually went over to her house once or twice a year. It started with a Cupid and Psyche retelling. A beautiful girl marries a husband she never sees. He only comes at night when it's too dark to see. Of course, she sneaks a candle and he is revealed to be a beautiful young man, but he has to leave because she didn't trust him. She begins a quest to search for him and the 4 winds help her. As she searches, each of the winds tells her different stories. I distinctly remember that there were Asian fairy tales as well as European ones. I never finished the book, but I think this was one of the first long term goals I ever set. Perhaps it says something of my character that I couldn't complete it.
4. No Jumping on the Bed by Tedd Arnold
This was one of the books I read over and over again and a book that I made my mom read me over and over again when I had the chicken pox. Need I say more?
5. The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg
I remember my parents taking me to the public library around Christmas. It was at night and me and something like fifty other children were in their pajamas. We were all given Dixie cups filled with those awful pink and white animal cookies with sprinkles. I think they're absolutely disgusting, but when you're 5, sugar=good. An old man who looked strikingly like Santa Claus (he had a white beard and red and green suspenders) read us the book. He had it memorized and I remember sometimes he forgot to turn the pages. He had the most marvelous voice and I remember feeling extremely sad at the end when no one else could hear the bell. It was perhaps one of the first times I realized that I couldn't hold onto being a kid forever.
Honorable Mentions: Where the Wild Things Are, The True Story of the Big Bad Wolf (I didn't enjoy this book until I developed a sense of humor and I remember Tim Allen reading this on my favorite story time show), Alice in Wonderland, Good Night, Moon, Little Bear, The Old Woman who Named Things, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Corduroy, and Marshmallow.

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