I am looking for a book, I wonder if you can help?

It was my favourite read as a kid, repeatedly borrowed from the library, and read cover to cover.

I’ve been searching for this book for years. On the cover was a black cat, possibly a girl, by some water with a dark Victorian mansion looming menacingly in the distance. And that’s it. That’s all I remember. Not the title or the author. I know it was about a girl trapped in time or maybe talking to the ghost of a girl trapped in time but that describes so many children’s novels of that era.

Do you know it?

Do you recognise the cover? 

I borrowed it from Bromley library if that helps.

A troubled kid, I would run away from high school, hop a train or two, hide in the library, some twenty miles from home, before hopping trains back again for the long walk across the fields to be back in time,  at least looking like I’d staggered off the school bus.

There was something about the peace of the library, the silence and the not being bothered that I had ‘another bloody book’ in my hands when I should have been off out to play.

What did you read as a kid?

I read everything, from cereal boxes to children’s classics. Once I learned to decipher those strange powerful squiggles I couldn’t stop. Never mind they danced upon the page, words sliding up to meet friends on the line above, over time I mostly got the gist.

Escaping into books saved me from a world that I struggled to make sense of. Being an odd sort of kid, in books, I found friends who did not judge. Friends who were lonely, talking to trees or ghosts, alienated from their own worlds. Friends who were brave, or silly or even weirder than me.

Searching Internet lists for my long-lost book in case I recognise the cover, I’ve rediscovered these long lost friends. Reading them now, I recognise elements of my own writing style – the long meandering sentences of Penelope Lively, the immersive description of Alan Garner. Not that I’m comparing, but I can feel their presence, a hand on my shoulder, their words whispered long ago, in my own.

My book choices were heavily influenced by my local librarian. Arriving unaccompanied, age seven, at the little scout hut that housed the local library, the librarian was suspicious of my lurking.  Once she realised the scruffy, grubby, kid clutching buff-yellow cardboard tickets in hot little hands was not going to damage or steal the books, she took me under her wing, saving for me like some secret treasure, books she would bring from behind the counter.  You can see her presence in my list.  Though I never knew her name, I am eternally grateful for the worlds she showed me.

So here is my list, in no particular order, of some of the books I loved as a child.

What did you read?

The worst witch series – Jill Tomlinson

My naughty little sister  series Dorothy Edwards

Topsy and Tim  Jean & Gareth Anderson

Otherwise known as Shelia the great – Judy Blume

SuperFudge – Judy Blume

(In fact every single book  by Judy Blume)

The weirdstone of Brisingamen  – Alan Garner

The owl service – Alun Garner

Charlotte’s Web, E. B. White

Charly – Joan G. Robinson

When Marnie was there –  Joan G Robinson

Kes – a kestrel for a knave – Barry Hines

Chocky  – John Wyndham

Ballet shoes -Noel Streatfield

The Ghost of Thomas Kemp – Penelope Lively

Five children and it series – E. Nesbitt

The railway children – E. Nesbitt

The water babies  – Charles Kingsley

Thursday’s child – Noel Streatfield

Carries war – Nina Baldwin

Little women – Louise. M Alcott

The machine Gunners – Robert Westall

Heidi – Joanna Spyri

Wuthering Heights- Emily Bronte

Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte

The borrowers’ – Mary Norton

A stitch in time – Penelope lively

The family from one end street- Eve Garnett

Then and now I see my passion for women writers.

So tell me, what was your favourite book as a kid?

And have you seen my book ?

4 thoughts on “Lost in books

  1. Oooh, yes. All of these (except Alan Garner, couldn’t get into him. I wonder why not?)

    Books I violently loved and re-read and am now feeling all squishy and desperate about and as if I need to go right now and find them:

    Everything by Noel Streatfield. Several times.
    The Swish of the Curtain (and sequels)
    Moomins
    Anne of Green Gables etc
    The Chalet Girls series
    The Phantom Toolbooth
    E Nesbitt – everything but especially The Railway Children and 5 children and It
    The Borrowers
    I had a real Heidi phase and also a Little House on the Prairie phase and a What Katy did phase.
    Also, not going to lie, Enid Blighton. Everything. 🤷🏼‍♀️

    Mary Renault’s The Persian Boy (the first book I remember buying after reading because I could not bear to lose it or forget it. It’s not a children’s story At All. I loved it).

    Similarly, I have a book I would love to find about a decaying mansion (in Ireland?) with a child and a bunch of eccentric relatives (it’s not Green Knowe).

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Ps: the library saved me too. Four books at a time, if I concentrated I could get through that in a day, it was only a walk up the road. I read genres, not authors. Had my first kiss outside it too …

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Green Knowe I only found as an adult. It should tick all my boxes, but thus far haven’t read all of it.

        I made the children listen to Anne of GG on a car journey and it’s a bit sentimental. But I’ve always been a sucker for a bookish, ugly orphan duckling becoming a bookish swan (living in hope I guess 😃)

        Liked by 2 people

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