Overcome by nostalgia, I have ordered a second-hand copy of a compilation of the five ‘My Word’ story books.
That isn’t the only manifestation of nostalgia. I’ve bought a present for my daughter as well.
Every child has, I suppose, an absolute favourite first book, toy or game which is remembered (and maybe treasured) forever. Each of my children did. Al’s was Dr Seuss’s Fox in Socks, which he knew all through, tongue-twisters and all, and pretty well learned to read by, when he was 4. Ro’s earliest favourite was Janet and Allen Ahlberg’s Each Peach, Pear, Plum, which we still have and I read to my grandchildren. Weeza’s first literary love was a book by Althea Braithwaite called Smith the Lonely Hedgehog.
She knew this book by heart well before she could speak in sentences. When she was not much more than a year old, she started to join in as I read it to her, and by the time she was about a year and a half (now, if blogging had been invented then I’d be able to tell you exactly when, as I’d have written about it) she could interject any word when I paused. I’d start “Smith was a heehog. He lived all by himself under a flowering bush near the edge of a wood” (words in italic were Weeza’s of course). ‘Miff Heehog’ was asked for repeatedly every day. It was a narrow book – if you fold a sheet of A4 paper in half, top to bottom and then fold it the same way again, that was it, long and narrow. New, it cost 20p. It had the poor binding of most books in the 70s – several of my cookery books of that vintage have pretty well fallen apart – and was well read and loved. It didn’t occur to me to buy another copy while I could. I’ve looked for it since, but it’s out of print long ago and second hand copies, when available, are in poor condition and silly expensive.
But Weeza has tracked it down, reprinted. She’s searched before without success on Lulu, but at last it’s appeared. As you’ll see, it’s now printed in a squarer edition, but I seem to remember that range of books by Althea and various other authors did appear in that format after the narrow one.
I’ve bought from Lulu before; Shaggy Blog Stories and a couple of others, and I even remembered my password; they already had my address and credit card, so it took me less than a minute to order. I’ve bought two copies. Weeza will have such a happy Christmas. I don’t think she’d care if she didn’t have any other present.