In anticipation of meeting Ann M. Martin on Thursday, for the release of her much anticipated prequel: The Summer Before, I started to think about all the things I loved about The Babysitter’s Club series when I was a kid.
Despite the fact that I read every single Babysitter’s Club book in existence…I have absolutely no memory of any one of them in any kind of detail.
This made me think a lot about my memories of books. They always seem to be small, simple, strange snapshots. A hazy look at what happened once, long ago, in a quick moment. Most of the plots have completely escaped my mind.
So, I thought it might be interesting if I re-capped some of the strange things I remember about my favorite books as a child…
The only distinct memory I have of The Babysitter’s Club is Claudia Kishi’s phone. Claudia Kishi had her own phone. In her room. This was epic. A lot of girls wanted a phone just like Claudia Kishi’s.
The only thing I remember about Black Beauty is that my childhood friend, Mimi, loved this book and had a very melodramatic, romantic image of herself riding across green pastures with her her hair flying through the wind. I hope you lived out that dream, Mimi, wherever you are…
I know the basic plot of Charlotte’s Web, but what I remember most is the cover. Charlotte’s hair looked like pencil scratches with thin and messy swirls.
The only thing I remember about Heidi is that I left the book in my friends backyard. And it rained. When I recovered it, it had dried up and all of the pages were stuck together. When I tried to separate them, they would rip. All the beautiful pictures were blurred.
I remember nothing about Sweet Valley Twins, another series I devoured. I think one of the twins might have been named Jessica. I feel it would be unfair to google it now. I just remember that when I got to the next level, Sweet Valley High, things got A LOT racier. I actually didn’t want to tell my mother I was reading these books and decided to confiscate them from myself before she did. (Oh my goodness, was I that prude?!)
I had a similar experience with Flowers In The Attic. But I was a bit older by this time. My friend Kim recommended it, with the caveat that this had to be read in the library stacks after school, not at home. I knew that everything that was going on in this book was seriously naughty. And now I have all kinds of weird affinities for stories about incest (don’t judge.)
My favorite book as a tween (although I’m not sure what they were calling that age back then) was Homecoming by Cynthia Voight. It was about a group of siblings. I don’t remember the where, the why, the what. Only the how. They walked, by foot to their destination (I’m talking across state lines.) There was a beautiful sister, who couldn’t speak. The themes are shockingly similar to the novel I am writing now.
I think it’s interesting that the books I sigh over and remember with such fondness, books that instilled a love of reading and a love of story, books that I could not get enough of and begged my parents to buy for me or take out of the library, told stories I can not, for the life of me, remember. I think it may be time to scour the old bookshelves in my childhood home and figure out exactly why I even like to read. Geeze.
How well do you remember the books you read as a child?
Photo: Young Girl Reading by Jean-Honoré Fragonard