Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Childhood books

There are books from my childhood that I still remember after many years. Some because they influenced me and some because they solidified my love of reading. I grew up in Germany and still live there, so the books that got me reading and shaped my childhood are probably a bit different from the ones you grew up with. But there are some books that children all over the world love. Astrid Lindgren is one of those authors who gets kids reading in many countries. Who hasn't heard of Pippi Langstrumpf (Pippi Longstocking)?

What's not to love about a book whose MC's full name is Pippilotta Delicatessa Windowshade Mackrelmint Ephraim's Daughter Longstocking?

I wanted to have a cool name like Pippilotta Viktualia Rollgardina Pfefferminz Efraimstochter Langstrumpf (German)when I read the book and saw the movies on TV. Pippi led a life I and many kids dreamed and still dream about: Living in Villa Kunterbunt (Villa Villekulla) with her monkey Mr. Nilsson and her horse. Having adventures with her friends Tommy and Annika. Living without adults. Doing whatever she wants without an adult forbidding her anything. How great is that?

As a little girl I wanted to live like Pippi and of course to be as strong as her, so others wouldn't be mean to me anymore. I guess that's something many children want.

Ronia the Robber's Daughter (Ronja Räubertochter)
Another book by Astrid Lindgren with a strong female MC. Ronia is the daughter of a robber (duh) and tries to stop an old feud between two clans of robbers. Even as a child I loved reading about strong girls and I still do. Maybe books like Pippi Longstocking and Ronia the Robber's Daughter brought on my preference for independent and strong women and girls in books. I think it's important for young girls to read about strong female MCs.

Another author whose books were part of my childhood and that of many other kids is Michael Ende. I think he's also well known outside of Germany, especially for his book The Neverending Story.

What I really loved about this book is that Bastian, one of the MCs, becomes part of the Neverending Story by reading the book. He and Atreyu, the other boy MC, have to save Fantastica from the Nothing. And I loved Falkor, the luckdragon. What's wonderful about this book is that it brings magic into children's lives. Who hasn't wished to be sucked into a book, to become part of it?
(Though there are some books I wouldn't want to become a part of. Hunger Games for example. I wouldn't stand a chance.)

Der satanarchäolügenialkohöllische Wunschpunsch (The Night of Wishes)

Another book from Michael Ende. It's popular in Germany but not as known in the US or UK. I got it for Christmas when I was little. Books as a Christmas present are probably as popular as clothes, but I was happy when I detected the book among my presents. Though I have to admit that it didn't stand a chance against the Barbie horse with its movable joints. After I'd lost interest in playing with the horse, I read the book and loved it.

The German title is a real tongue-twister and the middle part doesn't even make sense, though it's fun to try to say it really fast. It always made me smile as a child. I love that it takes place in Villa Alptraum (Villa Nightmare!)

Eine Woche voller Samstage ( Could be translated as: A week full of Sams-days)

Paul Maar's books aren't that known outside of German speaking countries, but his books about Das Sams (the Sams) were some of my favorites as a child. Our elementary school teacher often read them to us. The book was even made into a movie and of course I loved that too. The Sams is a childlike creature with a pig-nose, blue dots all over its face and a red buzzcut. It can grant wishes, but for every wish one of its blue-dots disappears and when they're all gone it can't grant any more wishes. Most of the time the wish-granting ends in a mess though. So be careful what you wish for!

Some of you might have heard of Otfried Preußler. He's a very popular author of children's books in Germany. I've read his book Die Kleine Hexe (The Little Witch) over and over again when I was a little girl and the book is still on my shelf.

The beginning makes me smile every time I read it:
Once upon a time there was a little witch who was only a hundred and twenty-seven years old. That's not at all old for a witch.
She lived in a witch's house that stood all alone in the middle of a wood. As she was only a little witch, her witch's house was not particularly big either. But it was big enough for the little witch, who couldn't have wished for a better house. It had a funny crooked roof, and a twisted chimney, and rickety shutters. There was a baking oven built onto the back of the house. Of course there had to be an oven - a witch's house without one wouldn't be a proper witch's house.

The other witches look down on the The Little Witch because she's still so young. I think that's something many kids can relate to and it's told in a very cute way.
All this writing about my childhood books makes me want to read them again.

So do you know some of the books? What are the books that got you reading, the books from your childhood you still remember fondly?


Catherine said...

I love Momo by Michael Ende! And the Neverending Story, of course.

Jamie B said...

I LOVED The Little Witch too! Or was it The Littlest Witch...hmm..did her stockings fall down all the time?

danya said...

Pippi Longstocking was the best! So much fun. I loved the chapter where she goes to school and answers all the questions in such a quirky way :D

Angelica R. Jackson said...

I watched the movies (dubbed in English) endlessly as a kid. I even remember the songs . . .

Meredith said...

Oh my gosh! Pippi Longstocking was such a part of my childhood. I did a third grade book report on it and dressed up like Pippi, wire hangers in my braids and all. I love Pippi!

Shveta Thakrar said...

Ich liebe Die unendliche Geschichte/I love The Neverending Story! I have it in German, with the text in red and green.

One of my favorite childhood books were about Dorrie the Little Witch. I also really loved Amar Chitra Katha comics from India.

Heck, I just always had my nose in a book, let's be honest. ;)

Shveta Thakrar said...

Eee, "one" should be "some."

Dorothy Dreyer said...

Hi Susanne! My daughter had to read Ronja for school a couple years ago. I've seen the Sams books but we haven't read them, and the Wunschpunsch book looks familiar. :)

Carolin said...

Ahhhhh. I'm also from Germany and I looooove this list. It makes me think back to my childhood, because I loved so many of these books. Heee. I now feel like getting the book box from the attic just to leaf through them. *gg*

LeishaMaw said...

I loved Pippi! Thanks for bringing me back to my childhood. Let's see, Mrs. Pigglewiggle was another one I loved. Great memories. :)

Erin said...

Add me to the list of readers who loved "The Neverending Story." Thanks for reminding me of that!

The first author whom I remember getting "hooked" on was Beverly Cleary. Couldn't get enough of her books!

Anonymous said...

I haven't read all of these. I read one Longstocking book long ago. And
Die Kleine Hexe looks wonderful.

I fondly remember my childhood books. My favorites were fairytales and Frog and Toad.

Alessandra @Out of the Blue said...

I grew up in Italy, but read Ronja and Pippi and The Neverending Story, too :)

Vasilisa said...

I loved Ronia! I haven't heard of that book in a long, long time. I also loved Vivian Van Velde's books, like A Hidden Magic (about a plain princess who has to save a sleeping prince). I really liked ghost stories though, like Mary Downing Hahn's book "Wait Til Helen Comes".