When I was small, while other children were given lollies or smarties at the checkouts, I was given a little golden book, if I had behaved myself. I come from a long line of bookish women so naturally, I behaved impeccably and as such, had an enormous collection of little golden books. (Back then, little golden books were cheaper than lollies and chocolate bars)
My favourite book was a short book called I Can Fly. (I did attempt a link. The link failed. The book was written by Ruth Krauss)
Mary Blair was the illustrator.
When it comes to the books my mother read me as a small child, I remember words mostly, the way she would say them, how they made me feel.
I remember the fear, the creeping fear when she read me the Jabberwocky....
Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that snatch!
I remember the tingling up my spine, the anticipation, the suspense when she read The Raven.
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door...
I remember the way she would bray like a donkey when reading I Can Fly,
I'm a donkey in the straw, Hee Haw HEE HAW
But what I remember most about I Can Fly, is the bright vivid pictures. They really captured my imagination far more than the simplistic words of the story. I can still see those images when I close my eyes, all these years later. Even after my treasured little book, so well loved and read its' edges were furry, worn paper, some tears, until finally it just fell apart, I haven't seen the inside of I Can Fly since I was about 12. But I still remember those beautiful pictures. (A characteristic I remember being inherent in most little golden books by the various artists' who illustrated them. The Pokey Little Puppy, Captain Kangaroo and the Colour Kittens are the ones I remember most vividly from that time.)
I still remember being curled up on my Holly Hobby sheets, a crocheted blanket by my Nanny on top, my mother sitting beside me and that belief that 3 yr old girls can have when they are taught even the sky has no limits....that I could fly! Because my mother, Ruth Krauss and Mary Blair told me I could.
(And yes they also told me I could be a donkey, or a chicken, the point was, I was only ever restricted by my imagination.)
NB: Image used without permission ( although I did ask the blogger) from this visually gorgeous blog full of art that will make you squee.
(this is the page the image above is from. if you scroll down the page you will see a girl with a donkey, that is from I Can Fly and every time I see that image, I hear my mother braying like a donkey)