By Carol Ann Robb, PPL Reference Librarian
Shown is the edition of Crockett Johnson’s Groundhog Day classic that was my very first book purchase. Sometime in the early to mid-1960’s, this very library held a book sale of discarded books and I was given money to buy a title of my own choosing.
For some reason lost to the ages, I picked this book. I truly don’t remember if the sale took place near February 2nd, or perhaps I liked the little groundhog illustration on the cover or more likely, I had checked the book out at some point and it made an impression on me. Whatever the reason, I was very proud of my purchase and kept it among my collection long after I outgrew it. But each year as February 2nd draws near I find myself thinking, “will Spring be early? or will Spring be late?”
Devoted readers like myself can recall the titles in their childhood library. I remember getting the Cat in the Hat Dictionary as a gift long before I ever entered school and still have the copy of A.A. Milne’s “Now We Are Six” that I received when I turned six (which I plan to re-gift to the little blonde cutie down the street in a couple of years).
As I got older, my little library included all of the “Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators” series, but not a single Nancy Drew (she was so boring compared to Jupiter Jones, Peter Crenshaw, and Bob Andrews!) “Misty of Chincoteague” was another favorite, as was the sequel “Stormy, Misty’s Foal” but I didn’t care as much for Marguerite Henry’s other books.
Of course, I checked out many books from the school and public library, reading all of the Beverly Cleary titles, at least the ones that were written while I was still in grade school, as well as Homer Price, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, and the Boxcar Children. But the title that made the biggest impression on me was E.L. Koningsburg’s “From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.” What fun to hide out in a museum!
My favorite books as a youngster seem so tame compared to children’s literature of today. Yet I certainly lost myself in those worlds that differed from mine and in the past four years or so, I’ve found myself reaching for similar “nice” stories when I need a brief interlude from my beloved mysteries (those Three Investigators left a lasting impression on me!)
So as I wonder today “will Spring be early? or will Spring be late?” It doesn’t really matter. I’ll be reading whatever the weather may be.