Saturday, July 9, 2011

All Time Favorite Children's Book

My all time favorite -children's book! Prince Jan: St Bernard by Forrestine Cooper Hooker . Published in 1921 by Doubleday and Company.

Somewhere in this journal of my life, I want those who are trying to get to know me, to know that I grew to love reading! I didn't always love to read. I found in my childhood that I had better things to do! I was too busy swimming, playing with my brother and just finding others things to keep me away from being at home. Little did I know then that reading could have been a way for me to escape and yet I chose to do "other" things. Today, I can say that I love to read! I enjoy sitting and reading for long periods of time! I often read so long that I tend to neglect children, a husband, and the chores of home that beg me to be recognized!

BUT this I do know!

I still remember the summer between my fifth and sixth grade years in school! I had signed up to attend summer school. Why? Summer school back then was for catching up on work missed during the regular school year. I certainly didn't need that. But for whatever reason, I signed up for summer school. The whole summer school schedule was themed around the idea of "Christmas in Summer." Now for a San Diego girl that sounded wonderful!

All of our classes, themes and projects had to do with Christmas! It was glorious!

What I remember most about the summer was an older woman with big white curly hair and a body that was a little on the plump side who would come to our classroom every afternoon right after lunch and read aloud to us! She had the most wonderful voice and the story she read us was so exciting!

From the very first page of the book I knew I didn't or wouldn't want to miss a single word! The book was "Prince Jan: St Bernard" by Forrestine Cooper Hooker. It was a wonderful journey for me. I still hold those days of laying on the rug in that sixth grade classroom tight in my memory. I would lay quietly on the rug at this teacher's feet as she read aloud the words from a chapter or maybe even two if we would beg her. The story is told from the perspective of a St. Bernard dog. As I recall the story takes place in the mountains of Switzerland where these wonderful dogs were trained to be rescue dogs in the Alps. Prince Jan in the end is adopted by a family in California and becomes a family pet.

The story for me was amazing! I loved to be read out loud to. My mom, one of her best qualities, would read to my little brother, Joe and me every night! We would read book after book. Since my mom worked nights, she would have us come and lay on her bed before she would go off to work for the night. I would be on her right arm and Joe on her left. Now let me just say that my mom wasn't a great reader but she read to us! I would never make it past about the first one or two pages of any book. I think my brother would lay awake until my mother' s voice was worn out? I don't remember.

This is a memory that I tried to create for my own children. I did fairly well reading aloud to Colin and Christopher. Colin learned to read from the scriptures. He would read to me every night and I would lay and read to him from his beloved "Thomas the Train" books. Laura and Cameron have not been so lucky! I'm trying to change that if it's not too late.

For my birthday a few years ago Daren surprised me by finding a copy of this magical book and giving it to me. I cried! No, I bawled! What a treasured gift!!! l loved it! I will always treasure the feelings that are associated with this wonderful book!

Reading is such an amazing talent and ability. To think that there are people in the world who don't read. I just can't wrap my mind around that one!

Give me a good book anytime and I am gone! Just ask Daren who knows better than to try and engage me in a conversation or ask what I might be fixing for dinner when I have my nose in a good book!

I couldn't find much on the Internet about this Prince Jan book. It's been out of print for years. I did want to include a small excerpt from the book:

"So Jan always felt happy after that day, for when he missed one of the dogs now, he knew it had found a home and some one to love it. And on those days the poundmaster went around with shining eyes while his lips puckered up in a cheerful whistle, or Jan heard him singing: "Old dog Tray is ever faithful, Grief cannot drive him away; He's gentle and he's kind And you'll never, never find Many times when friends called to talk and smoke with the Captain, Jan would go for a short walk along the beach....‎"

So, what is your favorite Children's book? I had others besides this one. I learned to read the pages of "Harold and the Purple Crayon" quite young. And I remember those cute with green books about mice and rabbits and moles. I think it was Beatrice Potter. Oh thank heavens for good books!


Pam Andrews Hanson said...

This is lovely!

Pam Andrews Hanson said...

Forgot to add "The Little Engine that Could" is my favorite young childhood book!

Barbara said...

I remember "A Wrinkle In Time". Don't remember the author though...