Books made me.
Well, technically my parents made me. They created me, and they brought me up. But books helped. A lot. Second to my parents, the books I read as a child have had the strongest formative influence on me, on my life and my character. Probably the case for many people; for others it's films, or music, or sport. But for me, unsurprisingly, it was books.
And so I decided to have a retrospective of these books. To single out the ten books which had the strongest influence on me as a kid. First up?
And at once, I have to cheat. Because, to be honest, there isn't one I can really single out.
My favourites were (and are):
- Each Peach Pear Plum, by Janet and Allan Ahlberg (I still know it more or less off by heart), and when I was slightly older, The Jolly Postman
- Brambly Hedge, by Jill Barklem
- Tim and Charlotte, by Edward Ardizzone (and the lovely Diana and her Rhinoceros)
- Hairy McLary
- And, of course, Asterix and Tintin.
Interestingly, these only came back after a little thought (except for Asterix, which is still a favourite). What has really stuck in my mind are the books that disturbed me, or evoked some other strong emotional response:
- The work of John Burningham, especially John Patrick Norman McHenessy: The Boy Who Was Always Late: it was something about the pictures that made my skin crawl.
- The Polar Express. This book is beautiful, but very very eerie, and I was never quite comfortable with it as a child.
- A superlatively creepy book about a painter whose paintings come to life, and who eventually goes into one his paintings and never returns.
- And Badger's Parting Gifts, which was given to my brother and I when our grandmother died. This wasn't creepy - in fact, it was very sweet, but its associations have imprinted it on my memory. Especially vivid is the page when the (dying) Badger is going along a tunnel, and finds that he can walk without his stick, and then runs, full of joy.
What about you lot? Which are your favourite (or least favourite) picture books?