Books from our childhood

I read an interesting analysis of the Narnia books by someone who reread them as an adult, comparing her contemporary reaction with her youthful memories of the books. Though the rereading was colored by her rosy feelings from years before, she couldn't overlook the sexism and other issues she found as an adult. I felt sorry for her. Something wonderful was now tainted.

 Though I'm often nostalgic, I wouldn't relive the past for a zillion wonderful reviews. Memories, though, are mine, therefore hands off to everyone else. Yet I've been tempted to pull out old favorites and give them another look, wondering if my young eyes were wrong the first time they read the words on a page.  Miss Flora McFlimsy has never failed to charm me, no matter how old I am. Rumer Godden's Mouse House swims in the same magic.  But these are books for young children, not the books I gobbled up as I became a voracious reader.

My mother insisted on summer reading lists (before schools required them), so I was fed a delicious diet of Newbery Award winners.  I cannot praise my mother enough for insisting I read quality books.  Behind her back, with my allowance savings, I indulged in the secret delight of Nancy Drew books, purchased at the post exchange on outings with my father.  I can still see my mother rolling her eyes and sighing when I fell under the thrall of the dauntless girl detective in her powder blue convertible. (It was a convertible, wasn't it?)

I'd never reread those Nancy Drews, but I have kept my stash of Newberys. Hittie, Her First One Hundred Years. Roller Skates. Caddie Woodlawn.  Oh my, the memories. The interesting thing is, I can see how these books shaped me as a writer. The thrill of the clue in the old clock, the independent girl sleuth, and the veritable plethora of wonderful writing that comprised the award-winning books gave me a firm foundation as a mystery writer. I don't need to reread them to see if I was hoodwinked as a child reader.

I wasn't. To all those wonderful writers, I am eternally grateful.