Today Margrete Lamond remembers her five favourites from childhood.
Little Bear’s Visit by Elsa Minarik and Maurice Sendak
This is the first book I remember poring over, around the age of three or four, before I could even read. The pictures fascinated me: they were friendly but also slightly weird and a little bit scary. I had to leave the book behind in Norway when we emigrated, and I only recently tracked down a first edition copy to pore over again.
The Family from One-end Street by Eve Garnett
My mother used to read to us from this book, and when I was a better reader I read and re-read it for myself. It gave me a powerful sense of cheerful poverty in mid-20th-century London. I can barely remember what it was about, but laundry and steam in the kitchen is a strong image I seem to have retained. Still have the book. Must reread!
Tørris. Gutten fra Storlidalen by Berit Braenne
A Norwegian classic, given to me on the day of our departure for Australia to remind me of the Old Country. A romanticised but also somewhat realistic account of remote mountain life in early 20th century Norway, again deeply impoverished families making do and finding joy in small things. Memories of this book are redolent with the scent of warm pine needles. Still have this book.
The Borrowers Afloat by Mary Norton
There was just something fascinating about their tininess, and about the inverted view of the human world that the story presented. I loved how they made do with all sorts of ‘borrowed’ items, including their funny names. ‘Homily’ sticks fast in the mind.
Longtime Passing by Hesba Brinsmead
Continuing the theme of being enamoured of stories about families struggling to make ends meet under harsh circumstances … my love affair with the Blue Mountains and the (unrealistic) romance of remote rural country life began with this book. I adored the Victor Ambrus illustrations, too. (So exciting to recently see his artwork on Time Team!)