Saturday, 14 April 2012

A Trip Down Memory Lane

As you might imagine, many of our conversations here at The GT centre on books we love. Recently, we've been talking about books that we remember from our childhood, and we've been very sad to discover that lots of them are now out of print (and we're not that old, honestly!)

This blog post is dedicated to all of those long lost favourites, in the hope that some of you loved them as much as we did!

Ernest and Celestine Series by Gabrielle Vincent
Orginally published by Collins, 1982.

Ernest is a bear, Celestine a mouse.  I can't tell you exactly how they came to be sharing a home, but they do, and this leads to various cute adventures.  The stories are accompanied by Gabrielle Vincent's beautiful watercolour illustrations, giving heart, warmth and personality to the characters.  There were several books in the series, but the one I remember is 'Merry Christmas, Ernest and Celestine'.  Having found a few extracts online recently, I really think that it stands the test of time as one of the loveliest Christmas picture books. 

Yak and the Painted Cave by Donald Bisset. 
Originally published by Methuen, 1971.

Written by the British actor Donald Bisset (although I didn't know that at the time.) Yak is really one of the stand-out characters of my childhood. Gentle and slightly surreal, Yak and the Painted Cave tells the story of Yak, who decorates his gloomy cave with paint made from crushed mountain flowers.  Creating beauty from nature, this little guy was a great artist with a lovely message.  Again, this was a series of books, but this and 'Yak and the Sea Shell' are the ones I remember with fondness.   I wish Yak could make a comeback...

The Exeter Blitz by David Rees. 
Originally published by Hamish Hamilton, 1978.

This book won the 1978 Carnegie Medal, so I was really surprised to find that it was out of print.  I remember reading this when I was about 11, I think I must have taken it out of the school library.  I had never really read anything about World War II, or The Blitz, but I was fascinated, and it gave me an interest in the subject which has lasted to this day.  Obviously, there are lots of children's novels on the wars, with authors such as Michael Morpurgo and Robert Westall being well known for dealing with the subject. I think it's a real shame that The Exeter Blitz isn't available anymore though - if it succeeded in giving an eleven year old New Kids on the Block fan an interest in history, it must be good!

We'd love to hear about any of your childhood favourites that have gone to the big bookshop in the sky. Who knows, maybe some lovely publishing person might spot them and decide it's time to 
resurrect one of them!