Thursday, June 21, 2012

What Series of Books Did You Love Most as a Child?


For me, there is no contest, and I think Megan would agree with my choice so it survived my generational attachment.

The Betsy-Tacy series by Maud Hart Lovelace were written in the late forties and fifties. Based on her childhood in Mankato, MN, they concerned life mostly in the early 20th century. Betsy, Tacy and soon Tib grew older in each book, finally ending with Betsy's early years of marriage. It was thrilling following three girls through so many years, in seeing how they turned out. So many series do not age their heroes.

When they went out of print, women linked arms and demanded a new printing so their daughters (and themselves) could enjoy them again. They also formed a Betsy-Tacy society.

So what was your favorite series of books?

I was able to find an original copy of the first book for Megan for Christmas( albeit a library copy). I had looked for it for years. This was our best present since the dollhouse at age nine.

58 comments:

Deb said...

I didn't read many series books when I was young, but the ones that stand out are Enid Blyton's Famous Five series. As a working-class "east-ender," those stories of upper-class children who went to boarding school and solved mysteries during their "summer hols" were a whole different world for me.

I was older (and, by that time, an American) when I read the Little House and Anne of Green Gables series, which I loved and have read to my kids too.

Prashant C. Trikannad said...

HARDY BOYS, read all the eighty-odd novels in the series, and Richmal Crompton's JUST WILLIAM stories. I also used to read ALFRED HITCHCOCK AND THE THREE INVESTIGATORS and remember being awed by the cover illustrations. Among comic-books, it was the original CLASSICS ILLUSTRATED and India's No.1 AMAR CHITRA KATHA (Immortal Picture Stories) series of comics.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Oh LITTLE HOUSE was such a great series. And both Nancy Drew and THE HARDY BOYS. I also read the Cherry Ames, nurse series.
Didn't know about the others Prashant mentions here.

Prashant C. Trikannad said...

Patti, the ACK comics I mentioned earlier refer to India's most popular comic-books based on Indian culture, history, mythology, the freedom movement, Buddhist and Tibetan folklore, religion, and social and political leaders and reformers who made a difference.

Walker Martin said...

When I was 9 years old, my father gave me a pile of books by Edgar Rice Burroughs that he had just read. The Tarzan and Mars series novels led to my interest in thousands of other books.

Among comics, I also got hooked on CLASSICS ILLUSTRATED. Later, I tracked down many of the classics and read them.

James Reasoner said...

The Freddy the Pig books by Walter Brooks, then the Rick Brant Science Adventures by John Blaine, then Edgar Rice Burroughs' Mars books.

Margot Kinberg said...

Patti - When I was little, it was definitely the Little House on the Prairie books. Then came Nancy Drew and one or two other kids' mystery series.

sandra seamans said...

I discovered Walter Farley's Black Stallion series when I was in seventh grade. The school library had a whole shelf devoted to that series. When I finished that shelf I found the shelf with the Little House books.

Before that I read whatever books I could find of The Bobbsey Twins, Trixie Beldon, and the Timber Trail Riders with a few Hardy Boys tossed in.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Other series I read: FIVE LITTLE PEPPERS, SUE BARTON, NURSE, CLASSIC COMICS, THE BOOBSEY TWINS, etc.

How luxurious it was to have a whole series to look forward to. And a whole life.

F.T. Bradley said...

Enid Blighton's THE SECRET SEVEN. One of the books in the series was given to me, and it was my first introduction to how addictive a series can be :-)

pattinase (abbott) said...

Noel Streatford's THE SHOE BOOKS.

George said...

My mother gave me TOME SWIFT AND THE CAVES OF NUCLEAR FIRE for Christmas. That book ignited a passion for reading. I collected all the TOM SWIFT books, moved on to the HARDY BOYS, NANCY DREW, RICK BRANT, etc. I was also reading comic books. THE FLASH was my favorite.

Anonymous said...

Those books sound really interesting Patti, but neither of us ever heard of them. The only series I remember reading was The Hardy Boys. Jackie says Cherry Ames (nurse), Vicky Barr (stewardess) and Nancy Drew.

Jeff M.

Anonymous said...

By the way, I checked and ABE has a number of those Betsy-Tacy books at very reasonable prices.

Jeff M.

bryonquertermous said...

I didn't read a lot of series when I was a kid other than the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew. I read all of the hardcovers but really loved the more modern paperbacks and Jumbo combined adventures. I also read a lot of Star Trek books as a kid.

Thomas Pluck said...

I liked Encyclopedia Brown as a kid, and as I got older I read Ian Fleming, then Gregory MacDonald (Fletch).

pattinase (abbott) said...

My son loved Enc. Brown too. You must be around 40, I bet.
Tom Swift was a Phil favorite.

Off to see the play THE UGLY DUCKLING (Kevin). Carry on without me.

Al Tucher said...

Does anyone remember the Chip Hilton series by Clair Bee? Chip was a star high school athlete who also tackled social issues with a forthrightness that was unusual for the early 60's. There was one basketball story about an African American player trying to find acceptance on the team. On the other hand, Chip's cluelessness about the hometown sweetheart Mitzi exasperated me even at the age of ten. On balance, I cringe.

Randy Johnson said...

Without a doubt THE HARDY BOYS for me. Never read the entire series, though, because as soon as I discovered Heinlein and Norton, I was lost.

Randy Johnson said...

Burroughs books came after I discovered SF. along with Tom Swift, whatever the library had in that vein.

George said...

I had a whole set of those Blair Bee CHIP HILTON books, Al. Chip was an excellent athlete who played sports all year around. I enjoyed the football books the best.

Tom Roberts said...

The Three Invesitgators by Robert Arthur (and later other writers under his name).

The Three Investigators are a boys series of three youths that solve mysteries and odd happenings.

First read aloud to the class by Mrs. Kirley in the afternoon. I have been a mystery fan ever since.

Tom Roberts
Black Dog Books

michael said...

Add me to the Encyclopedia Brown fans (I am 57 years old). I remember getting the Scholastic catalog at school and ordering a variety of books, but Donald Sobol's Encyclopedia Brown series is the only one I still remember. One of my favorite memories of childhood is being in school and having my latest order from Scholastic arrive.

Charles Gramlich said...

A mystery series called "The Three Investigators." I've even read a couple of other books in the series as an adult, although they don't hold up terribly well.

Chad said...

Encyclopedia Brown, John Bellairs, James Howe's Bunnicula books, and pretty much every Choose Your Own Adventure ever written.

Elizabeth said...

Chalk me up as another who loved The Three Investigators series.

Erik Donald France said...

I never read any series but my parents had a big set of folk tales, myths and legends that was absorbing. "The Song of Roland," Saint George and the Dragon, stuff like that.

Erik Donald France said...

p.s. I guess there was one series read as a kid -- Ian Fleming's 007 books. Also got in trouble at school for bringing the soundtrack to Goldfinger, which I still dig to this day.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I had a old set of fairy tales with colors in them THE BLUE BOOK, etc. I inherited books from everyone on my street since I was a big reader. Some were quite old like this book called CHATTERBOX.
Oh and the Little Maid books I bet no one remembers them. A LITTLE MAID OF SALEM etc.

Ron Scheer said...

Was not a book reader as a kid. Maybe the Black Stallion books when my 2-room country school acquired a small library when I was in 7th grade.

Anonymous said...

I read the James Bond books when they were all out in paperback (when Kennedy was touting them) in my early teens. As far as Scolastic Books goes, I was buying movie tie-ins of things I'd seen, like WEST SIDE STORY and (yes, the original novel) BEN-HUR.

Jeff M.

Dave Zeltserman said...

Under 10, Freddie the Pig, over 10, James Bond and Conan (Robert E. Howard only!)

Anders Engwall said...

Being a Swedish kid, it was inevitable that I would read Astrid Lindgren. Her series about Emil of Lönneberga still hold up extremely well.

Like so many others here, I also read the Three Investigators series. Recent rereads suggest they were not that bad, really.

I think I was 11 when I picked up Ian Fleming's James Bond books (who certainly do NOT hold up well today) and a little later I was into Ed McBain's 87th Precinct, Sjöwall & Wahlöö and even Raymond Chandler. By the the time I was 14 I had started digging into Patricia Highsmith's Ripley and Ross Macdonald's Lew Archer series. What a weird little runt I was.

pattinase (abbott) said...

How could I forget Pippi. Wanted braids that stuck out like her but my hair would not yield it up.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Another interesting question: at what age did you give up reading kids' books? Our library would not let us into the adult section until we were eleven, I think. Very frustrating because in the sixties there was little YA.

michael said...

Who gave up reading "kids books"? I still enjoy comic strip collections, comic books, and an occasional YA book. Though I wasn't reading Encyclopedia Brown when I was 13.

By my teens my sources for books were my parents' collections and spinner racks in a tiny gift shop next to a pool hall. The book I remember best from that period was The Great Escape. I did a book report on it three years in a row.

pattinase (abbott) said...

HA! Am I the only one who doesn't remember spinner racks. We were not a book buying family. Five books every Friday at the library. That was me.

James Reasoner said...

I never really stopped reading kids' books, either. But I was eleven when I started reading Ian Fleming, Mickey Spillane, Leslie Charteris, Rex Stout, and Max Brand.

James Reasoner said...

Actually, now that I think about it, I remember reading Brett Halliday and Erle Stanley Gardner/A.A. Fair when I was nine or ten.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Since my mother did have ESG, I read them at an early age.
How about Mrs. Piggley Wiggley?

Erik Donald France said...

Never read many YA books. We read Irene Hunt's Across Five Aprils in grade school and in 5th or 6th grade, Jane Eyre. 7th or 8th grade stuff like Lord of the Flies and Brave New World and Something Wicked This Way Comes. My parents and sisters had hundreds of books piled around, and I could (was allowed to?) read anything that was in the open without restrictin. Can remember picking up Brendan Behan's Borstal Boy because of the strange title. It was wild.

Anonymous said...

I'm probably reading more kids books now than I ever did. I also picked up Perry Mason books from my mother. She subscribed to Readers Digest Condensed Books and I read a number of them. The one I most remember was Douglass Wallop's "The Year the Yankees Lost Pennant" - which, of course, was adapted into DAMN YANKEES. In the era I was growing up the Yankees rarely did lose the pennant. In fact they won the pennant 14 of the first 16 years of my life (NTTAWWT).

Jeff M.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I think there are a lot more books for kids now. I only remember books for below tens. No YAs.

Joe Barone said...

I don't remember, but I remember our very young son liking books by Maurice Sendak. He also liked The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

As an adult, he still reads voraciously. I think it goes back to when he was a very little boy and we read to him, and then he read, books like those two.

Anders Engwall said...

Pippi has been the source of some debate over here recently (OK, a few years ago). Some said she's basically an extreme narcissist, if not an actual sociopath. I'd say there are some dubious features in there, but you can't deny that she was the original riot grrrl.

Stopped reading kid's books? Not yet. I recently started on Tove Jansson's series about the Moomins and really, this is in fact adult literature merely disguised as child lit. The language is just so incredible - her sentences are just so comfortable. It's strange how some of the best Swedish was produced in Finland.

Anders Engwall said...

The book that really turned my world upside down was this Swedish horror anthology, originally published in 1959. Here are the contents. I read this shortly before turning 12.

Mally Dixon (English folk tale)
How Can I Silence Katumbi (Bantu folk tale)
Evelyn Waugh: Mr. Loveday's Little Outing
Eugène Ionesco: Amédée comment s'en débarrasser
Lord Dunsany: Helping the Fairies
Edogawa Rampo: The Caterpillar
Leonid Andrejev: bezdna
Shirley Jackson: The Renegade
Steve Allen: The Public Hating
Pietro di Donato: Christ in Concrete
Henry Slesar: Examination Day Richard Parker: The Wheelbarrow Boy
Jerome Bixby: It's a Good Life Fredric Brown: Sentry
Charles Beaumont: The New Sound Robert Sheckley: The Luckiest Man in the World
H.P. Lovecraft: In the Vault
H.P. Lovecraft: The Colour Out of Space
Ray Bradbury: The Screaming Woman Ray Bradbury: The Man Upstairs John Collier: De Mortuis
John Collier: Thus I Refute Beelzy
John Collier: Little Memento
Nigel Kneale: Minuke
Nigel Kneale: Chains
David H. Keller: The Dead Woman David H. Keller: A Piece of Linoleum
Charlotte Perkins Gilman: The Yellow Wallpaper
Theodore Sturgeon: The Music
Robert Bloch: Enoch
Clayre & Michel Lipman: My Last Book
Henry Kuttner: The Graveyard Rats
C.M. Eddy, Jr: The Loved Dead Sidney Carroll: A Note for the Milkman
Albert Maltz: The Happiest Man on Earth
Torsten Jungstedt: Min son skall förklara

pattinase (abbott) said...

You should do a piece on it for FFB. Just a few lines will do. Love some of those choices.

Anonymous said...

Jackie was a huge Pippi fan, mainly because she lived on her own without parents (Dad was usually away at sea) and did whatever she liked.


Jeff M.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Exactly. I craved a tree house like she had. Anders comments are interesting though. I wonder if Americans would even notice narcissism.

Todd Mason said...

Sorry I missed this yesterday, but the days have been packed, and both fascinating and unsurprising how much love this CF-oriented crowd evinces for Robert Arthur's 3 junior sleuths...as much as I've enjoyed Arthur's writing (and, of course, his editing), I never could get too enthusiastic about the THREE INVESTIGATORS books (though they were at least as good as the Hardys and other multi-author series, by me). PIPPI LONGSTOCKING, on the other hand, was a real hit with me (I had only the first three novels, being in my latter 40s) strikes me as less a narcissist than most superheroes with dual identities, certainly, and no more one than any other brawny setter of things to their proper order (cheerfully anarchic in her case).

ENCYCLOPEDIA BROWN, like the 3I, got his start in the mid-'60s, so he was just a shade late for you, Patti, though I wouldn't be surprised if you'd come across Donald Sobol's TWO-MINUTE MYSTERIES in whatever newspapers or what have you they were originally published in...in 4th grade, I certainly preferred Haledjian.

But the novel series I dug the mostest in the years after Pippi (who was a passion when I was about 8) would be Keith Robertson's novels of Henry Reed and Midge Glass, beginning with HENRY REED, INC.

The dominant source for YA recs (certainly for me) in those years, going back into the 1920s, would be the Newbery Awards shortlists...they and the classics (Twain, Saki, Kipling, London...) were the obvious fodder for me alongside the adult-aimed (and kid-aimed) ALFRED HITCHCOCK anthos Robert Arthur and a few others were putting together, along with all those other anthologies of various sorts I'd read, not all horror though that was the most common. Scholastic Book Services' smaller (more teenish) paperbacks and the Dell Laurel Leaf line were my next most reliable indicators of what was likely to be interesting when I was 10...and certainly Scholastic's TAB ("Teen-Age Bookclub") line was already operational in the 1950s, albeit not in your classrooms, I gather...

And by the time I was 13, I was definitely reading the kind of stuff I wax, however briefly, nostalgic about in my FFB today...

Todd Mason said...

Beverly Cleary's books didn't inspire quite the passion Lindgren's did, but they were fun, if at times a bit gloomy. The Eleanor Estes series of two, GINGER PYE and PINKY PYE, and Dodie Smith likewise with 101 DALMATIONS and THE TWILIGHT BARKING (or even HARRIET THE SPY and THE LONG SECRET) were all consumed with alacrity, though usually the sequels were not quite up to the initiators (not so true of Robertson and his Reed and Glass books).

Todd Mason said...

Ah, yes...the next most enjoyable series in the Reed and Glass years were the MAD SCIENTIST CLUB books by Bertrand Brinley. Linked short stories rather than novels, but pretty damned amusing, as Ellen MacGregor's Miss Pickerell novels had been before them.

pattinase (abbott) said...

And how about Lois Lenski. Loved her books.

Todd Mason said...

Oddly enough, I didn't get to her. Enfield Central Library and my other regular sources must've been fresh out of STRAWBERRY GIRL.

Richard R. said...

Gosh, I'm SO far behind. By the time I saw this there were a babillion comments (slight exaggeration) but here goes.

I don't remember a series my parents read to me. When I was reading on my own and going to the library, I started reading THE HARDY BOYS and couldn't get enough, read the first 25 or 30 of them. Also the CHIP HILTON books, but just the football ones. Also TOM SWIFT JR. and RICK BLANE series, which were great. I also realy loved all the WINSTON JUVENILE SF BOOKS.

More grown up series were all the Tintin books, Boroughs' TARZAN, MARS , and PELICUDAR books. Adult series included the James Bond books, all the Poirot novels and stories, plus of course the Farfid and Grey Mouser books by Frita Leiber.

Gerard said...

The only ones I recall are Richard Scarry and THE THREE INVESTIGATORS.

A recent straight-to-DVD version of INVESTIGATORS was recently released.

Once I was old enough to bike around I would visit a nearby bookstore and pick out the CHOOSE-YOU-OWN ADVENTURE books.

Anders Engwall said...

How could I forget?... Richmal Crompton's series about William Brown were firm favourites back then, and they are still highly enjoyable. Sorta kinda P.G. Wodehouse for pre-teens.

And for something VERY different, there was this series.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kram_(book)

Yes, erotica for teens (or even tweens). It really existed. I only read the first in the series, at 13, and IIRC it really was not exploitative at all. BTW, "Kram" means "hug", and this first book even had a bondage scene. I kid you not.

As for Pippi being a narcissist, she has nothing on Karlsson-on-the-Roof in that department.

Todd Mason said...

Andrew Lang's long set of THE [COLOR] FAIRY BOOKS were serious bestsellers for some time, and drew on a lot of different traditions...though the stories Lang retold, he did so in a rather fussy, dull prose, I thought. Never could get too far with them, when there were comparatively wonderful, similarly eclectic assemblies from later folklorists such as Harold Courlander and Zora Neale Hurston...