Sunday, January 10, 2010

Shelf Discovery

The title: Shelf Discovery: The Teen Classics We Never Stopped ReadingThe author: Lizzie Skurnick
Publication: Avon, 2009 
Got it from: JL, Xmas 2009

It should come as no shock to anybody who reads this blog that I was a voracious reader as a child. I didn't realize how much, actually, until sometime years later when I was busy being a teenager, I walked into the children's section at the library and realized I had basically read everything published before c.1995. (Those of you who were word nerds are nodding your heads right now in a knowing way). I read hundreds, perhaps thousands of books which I can still recall in vivid detail, owing to the fact that books were basically my only form of entertainment as a child. (Okay, we did have three channels of Canadian television. But that hardly qualifies). As one former childhood readaholic once said, there were no bad books, only books I liked and books I loved.

So when I got Lizzie Skurnick's Shelf Discovery for Christmas, it was like spending hours with an old friend who totally comes from the same place. Sure she's about a decade older than me, but most of the books we read were the same, or I'd heard about them from somebody else so it felt like I read them (I admit to never having read Madeleine L'Engle. My sister informed me they're boring, but I withhold judgment). But Skurnick's reading depth and breadth puts even myself to shame, and I humbly bow in awe at all the reading she's done over the years.

What I really like about Skurnick's writing, other than just being fun, is that she seems to put her finger on what made the books stand out for us as children, even if they weren't the most important element of the book. Like the author, I often remembered small details that stuck out for me and I bet for other kids, too. For example, can you identify the following books just from these details I remember? Answers below, if you get the last two I'll be really amazed:

A. Penny in a Christmas stocking
B. Susan with the boing boing curls
C. Dad cuts his hand with a lawn mower
D. Obsession with Casablanca
E. Being carried by Miles

If anything, reading this book reminded me that some of the best stuff out there is written for children. Maybe it's time I dusted off my old collection and take a look at it again with new eyes.

A. Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder; B. Ramona the Pest by Beverly Cleary C. Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret by Judy Blume; D. Anastasia Krupnik by Lois Lowry; E. Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt

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