Growing up, I was a voracious reader. We lived in a remote part of Asia and good books were very hard to come by. I remember borrowing two books from our local library one Saturday – probably Mallory Towers and finishing them overnight. When I tried to return the books the following day, the librarian refused to take them back – my library card was still in a ‘to be sorted’ pile and she couldn’t track them down!
Whenever we went to the city, I’d lose myself in secondhand bookshops. Many blissful hours spent browsing dusty treasure troves! Two books I bought from a trip – I must have been no more than 14 years old – Mabel Esther Allan’s Black Forest Summer and Noel Streatfeild’s Skating Boots – served as repeat reads until I left home four years later. My only regret was that I left these books, as well as many more, behind as I headed for college. My parents tell me they were donated to a local school and I hope the books brought the readers as much joy as they did for me.
Going by memory – these are synopsis from the aforementioned:
Black Forest Summer:
Four siblings (three sisters and a brother) spend the summer with their German relatives after the recent passing of their English mother, having lost their German father several years ago. The older sister is a budding artist (late teens, possibly), the middle girl is an aspiring ballerina and the younger sister is in her early teens. Their older brother leaves them in their uncle’s care and goes away for work. The girls find the relatives rather awkward but the youngest warms up to the family. The artist sister, finding herself grieving for her mother and missing England, draws a rather unkind sketch of her relatives, including her cousin who is keen to make an impression with her English family. The sketch is seen by a male German cousin, who takes a dislike to the artist for her cruel depiction of his family. The rest of the book explores their time in Germany, how the English cousins support their German cousin’s ambition to work in a department store (against her father’s wishes) and the eventual mellowing of kinship between the two families.
Such a lovely read – my quest to stumble upon this book continues and I shall update here when I do!
A little girl is recovering from an illness and her doctor prescribes her with skating to get her active again. Her parents can’t really afford skating, but her brothers rally around. She meets a rich little girl at the skating rink whose nanny orchestrates for them to become playmates. The book explores the girls’ budding relationship, the boys’ entrepreneurial efforts, and how wealth doesn’t dictate talent.
I know I can get this book on amazon, but I’d love to chance upon it in my local charity shop. Perhaps an early print! Now that would be nostalgic.
Please drop me a note if the above books were part of your childhood.