...or tries to...

Friday, September 9, 2011

Collections: Golden

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.


rosanna said...

I remember a book, a very old one belonging to my mum when she was a child, of Russian fables. It had huge watercoloured illustrations of fair blond haired pricesses with Bambi eyes and brown haired and huge eyed knights. My favourite image was Baba Yaga's house walking on its chicken feet. Believe me or not it had pride of place in my room on a pedestal till Uni times. Then I put it aside. I can still recall all the books I read and their memories are much sharper than that of books I read last year.
I shall never thank enough my parents for teaching me the value of reading.

Daydreamer said...

Amy, I must admit that one of the greater pleasures of having children, for me, was to indulge in Children's illustrated books! I had kept many of my favorite childhood books and loved to read to my children. But having Boys meant that they just were NOT interested in MOST of my favorite stories! (I tried to read Beatrix Potter and Winnie the Pooh to them.... they were happier with Richard Scarey's books and books about the weather or machines! For a while the Super Market was selling Mini Golden Books... and I collected a whole bunch of them.... supposedly for the Boys... but really for ME! I still have them.... they are two and a half inches square... exact reductions of many of the most popular bigger ones... even with the gold binding... and I remember a couple of them DID fascinate the Boys.... "Tootle" comes to mind... about a naughty young train that jumps off the tracks and plays in the meadow!

Sans! said...

I am trying to recall my very 1st book. I believe it was one with no pictures. I won it as a book prize when I was in primary 3 , 9 years old. It was an Enid Blyton book and it was only then that I was hooked on reading and only then that Dad started buying me books. They all had no pictures. Little Women, What Katy Did Next.All the Malory Towers and St Clare's.Did you say Judy Blume? Forever? That book taught me things my parents didn't. I can't believe I can still remember the titles..haha!

I only started collecting art books after uni when I could afford it. A few years back, when I first became an aunt, I bought my 1st children's book. That was when I fell in love with all those books with the pretty pictures. I no longer give those away. My nieces and nephew will have to read them in my house and after that, put them safely back on the bookshelf.