I collected Golden Books when I was a kid. I collected books in general, all gifts from grown ups, appearing magically in my blue bookshelf. Magically because I have no specific memories of their arrival - they were always there. My parents' house was filled with books, books with no pictures, books with pictures. I had all the latest Maurice Sendacks, and loved their Wild Things and Really Rosies and Oliver Hardy chefs. But the Golden Books were my preferred stash, foxed cardboard covers with their wipe-clean sheen, their peeling gilded spines lined up precisely. As an adult, memories of their vivid illustrations would occasionally materialize out the fog of routine - or, while drawing something for a job assignment, I would fish a picture up, and long to see the books again:
the elephant wrapped up special delivery,
the grief of lost mittens,
the value of a good story well-told, (and the stoic resignation of dead fish),
how to boil water, (that came in handy),
and what to do if you find a tiny man in your soup. You really should know.
It's no wonder I'm obsessed with scale. A house is worn as a dress,
and a girl is raised in a nest, fed by birds.
Just as I don't remember their coming, I don't remember their going, their giving away. But it was right, at the time, that they moved on to younger kids, as I moved on to Garth Williams, and E.B. White, and Judy Blume. But it's the earliest picture stories that formed me, that form us, that are the reason we stop, as adults, and stare at something, wondering why it intrigues us so.