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Monday, May 12, 2008

Weekly Geeks #3: Childhood Favorites

This week on Weekly Geeks we're writing about our fond memories of childhood books. Being a reader since age 5, this was an easy one for me!

The first book that jumps to mind is Benny’s Beans. Actually, the book is really called Seeds and More Seeds, by Millicent E. Selsam, but we never called it that when we were kids. This book was published in 1959. I wasn’t born until 1977 so I’m not quite sure where my mom found this book but my sister and I LOVED it! It is actually a very long book – about 60 pages – and the text is not particularly large – although there are lots of illustrations. I read this to my son several times, leading me to pity my poor mother. It takes about 30 minutes to get through this book if you do it right, and we had her reading it at least once a day – sometimes more!

What do you need to know about Benny’s Beans? It’s a WONDERFUL book! It starts with a little boy named Benny who comes home from a walk in the park to find seeds attached to his clothes. His father explains what seeds are and how things grow from them. Benny is fascinated with this idea so he plants the seeds. Part I ends with Benny seeing what grew from his seeds. Part II begins with illustrations of the inside of a seed and also the parts of a flower. Then Benny decides he wants to learn more. He plants other things to see if they will grow. I remember one thing was a rock, but I can’t recall the others. Needless to say, he learns that only seeds will grow. Then he wants to learn more! (That’s a big theme of the book.) He gathers all kinds of seeds and plants them in all kinds of containers throughout his house. My favorite illustrations were the ones of all the containers with their labels showing which seeds were planted in them.

I still love this book. It’s beautifully illustrated and designed for children but it doesn’t talk down to them. I learned quite a bit from this book. Looking at it now, I get a kick out of the old-fashioned items … dad in a fancy suit smoking a pipe while walking in the park, dried beans kept in boxes on the counter, the old-timey house and cars, and lots more. I searched the net for any pictures of the cover but there's nothing out there. Try checking it out from your local
library ... the illustrations are really worth a look!

Benny's Beans is the only book I remember my mom reading to me. I'm sure there were others but I was reading on my own by age 6 and really preferred to read to myself. I remember loving The Little House on the Prairie book, the Anne of Green Gables series, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

But even more than these books, I remember reading The Hobbit by JRR Tolkein when I was in the 1st grade. My dad was reading it, and I asked him to read me a page. He did, and I was hooked. I asked if I could read it and he said yes ... not thinking that I really would. I remember staying up late at night with a flashlight under my blankets so my parents wouldn't know I was still awake and reading and reading and reading. That was my introduction to Fantasy and I've loved it ever since. [As a side note, finding those Tolkien covers on the internet brought back memories - they were the same ones I read way back when!] In addition to The Lord of the Rings and The Simarillion. I also read and truly loved The Belgariad series by David Eddings. What's weird is that with my love of Fantasy, I was completely creeped out by The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. It was the very first book that I chose not to finish reading ... to this day, I still haven't read it, not could I get into the movie. Odd, huh?

Needless to say, to this day I'm a pretty eclectic reader! Thanks to Dewey for this trip down memory lane. I'm looking forward to reading about other blogger's favorites!

PS. After reading a few other Weekly Geeks posts, I'm reminded that I also really loved Ramona Quimby - can't believe I forgot about her! And all the books by Judy Blume ... and Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss ... and all The Babysitters Club books ... and books by Madeline L’Engle ... and A Treasury of Mother Goose ... and Misty of Chincoteague ... and of course, all the Mandie mysteries (if you didn't read those, you should!) ... and there's SO MANY MORE!!!

PPS. Wow! I just found out there's a movie (in post production) of Mandie and the Secret Tunnel ... how cool is that?!


Laura said...

I LOVED the Mandie books! Yours is the first post I've seen that mentions them! I kinda want to go read one right now to remember how great they were! :)

justareadingfool said...

Heather, I never heard of Seeds and More Seeds. Many of the others, though, that you mention are among my favorites too, including The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. I just found a copy of Misty of Chincoteague at my parents' house this past weekend. It also was one of my favorites...this is getting me psyched to write about my favorite children books too.

Dewey said...

Oh, I loved Ramona, too! When my mom was pregnant, I wanted her to name the baby (my sister) Ramona.

And I love your blog concept, keeping track of what you read for a year. If you enjoy it, will you make an Age 31 blog?

Heather Johnson said...

Dewey - the more addicted I get to blogging, the more I realize that I'll not be stopping when I turn 31! LOL But I'll figure out what to do when my birthday gets closer ...

Kylee said...

The Belgariad series by David Eddings is what got to finally read for pleasure. That was way back during the summer before 9th grade; this summer will be the last one before my oldest starts high school... gulp!

Heather Johnson said...

Kylee - you're the first person to mention that they know that series. I truly loved it (still do!). I'm always glad to find another Eddings fan.

Kylee said...

I've read 4 of his/their 5 series. (Dreamers is the one I couldn't get into.) I read all 5 of the Belgariad series that were out at that time (summer of 1990) before school started!

Thanks for joining my Summer Reading Group! I think as long as you only borrow a teen it should be fine. =)

Ronnica said...

I want to read Anne of Green Gables again, but I don't know what happened to my copy. I know where it was before my parents moved, but my mom doesn't know where it went (probably in the attic with all the stuff I was supposed to sort through, whoops). I might have to brave the cold and spiders when I'm home at Christmas and look for it!

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