ZOMBIE THREAD ALERT: This thread hasn't been posted on for a while.

What books did you love as a child that really DON'T stand up to re-visiting?

(90 Posts)
Takver Sun 16-Dec-12 21:49:04

Mine is "Children on the Oregon Trail" - our teacher read it to us at primary school in the top class and I loved it, we made maps of the children travelling across America etc etc. I tracked down a copy for dd and was sadly disappointed, partly because I had thought it was a true life story (it isn't) and partly because it just wasn't as good as I'd remembered.

Any others?

drjohnsonscat Thu 20-Dec-12 10:58:04

Arcticwaffle, I loved Little Black Sambo and 40 years ago the issues with it went right over my head. I was reluctant to reread it with DCs for obvious reasons. Thankfully it's been renamed and reillustrated as "The Story of Little Babaji" - exactly the same story which I loved with the same weird story about turning tigers into butter and the same cool little boy who escapes the tigers and eats all the pancakes - but he's just not called Sambo this time.

www.amazon.co.uk/Story-Little-Babaji-Helen-Bannerman/dp/1857141385

I still love it and so do DCs.

Dromedary Thu 20-Dec-12 10:58:51

I love Winnie the Pooh - when I read it to DCs I realised how funny it is, really well written.
Also still love Moomins - quite subtle in a way (eg the book where they move onto a small island to live and the family starts to become a bit dysfunctional).
So sad to hear about Children on the Oregon Trail - loved that as a child and have been really looking forward to reading it to the children. We'll see how it goes.
I find DC1 really enjoys having old fashioned books read to her, but reads the modern fantasy stuff herself.

drjohnsonscat Thu 20-Dec-12 10:58:55

PS agree re Mr Men. It must have been the pictures that attracted me as a child because the stories are very ponderous.

StellaNova Thu 20-Dec-12 11:02:52

I didn't like Mr Men even as a child (apart from Mr Messy for some reason - it tickled me how he went all smooth when he had been cleaned).

We went on Guide camp and our Patrol Leader was supposed to read us improving literature every day - she chose to read us a Mr Man story every morning. It was incredibly tedious.

Takver Thu 20-Dec-12 19:27:49

"I find DC1 really enjoys having old fashioned books read to her, but reads the modern fantasy stuff herself."

That's interesting - in some ways I'd say I find it the other way around - DD enjoyed reading Anne of Green Gables, for example, although it seemed very wordy to read aloud.

Which reminds me of another book that I remembered as being amazing which really wasn't - Emily of New Moon. I think I really liked it better than Anne of GG as a child, but having revisited it I can see why Anne is the famous book smile

LRDtheFeministDude Fri 21-Dec-12 14:54:08

I'm with you on Children of the Oregon Trail. I bought it a while back as I remembered it being good, and didn't get on with it. Too sentimental. I found Emily dull to read as an adult, as well - I'd remembered her teacher being really encouraging about her poems in a nice way and now I just think he's a wanker with a really shite grasp of literature.

What Katy Did was another one - reading it now I'm just thinking 'what the fuck?! Your daughter has just recovered from a nasty illness, your sister has died after spending her life looking after your household, and you're happily getting your daughter to take on the role too. Employ a bloody housekeeper, man!'

I found The First Four Years really awkwardly written when I re-read it, too. I know she didn't really finish the draft of it, but it's just so stilted and fairly peculiar, too. There's the bit when she goes to the Boasts' house and Mr Boast asks her to give them her baby to adopt because they can't have children, and she gets Almanzo to drive away fast. I mean, I get that it's quite an appalling thing for someone to ask you but I found it really hard to reconcile how she obviously felt about those people, and how she writes about them so lovingly in the other books.

Takver Fri 21-Dec-12 15:17:19

I didn't like What Katy Did much as a child either - not only the housekeeping, but all the saintly 'suffering makes you better' bits. I used to read up to the bit before Katy has her accident and stop there grin

Agree The First Four Years is a bit oddly written, I never read that one as a child, only up as far as The Long Winter - I'd just assumed it wasn't really finished.

Dromedary Fri 21-Dec-12 22:15:32

I loved the Little House series, still do. But recently read a biography of Laura Ingalls Wilder, and her books were fairly different from real life. And after she moved away (see Last Four Years) she pretty much never visited her family again. So maybe it wasn't quite as rosy as she described.

notnowbernard Fri 21-Dec-12 22:17:22

I really loved Ballet Shoes as a kid

Got it for dd1, we read it together as it's so bloody wordy (forgot that!) and I confess we both struggled...

LRDtheFeministDude Fri 21-Dec-12 22:17:43

Someone on a previous MN thread said she had a row with her mother after her father died, if I remember rightly. But yes, I expect you're right she was romanticizing a bit. I didn't even think about that when I was little reading them (you don't, do you?).

aliasjoey Fri 21-Dec-12 22:33:35

I loved Enid Blyton. read one of my favourites, The Secret Island, to DD recently. I had to either miss out the sexist bits or explain ' things were different back then'. it was also very classest (if that's a word) the children were so rude to servants, PC Plod etc

oh and what about the Phoenix and then Carpet where the girls have to do the darning?!

YouCanBe Fri 21-Dec-12 22:55:05

I had completely forgotten The Adventures of the Little Wooden Horse!

SorrelForbes Fri 21-Dec-12 22:56:15

Oh dear, I re-read Ballet Shoes at least once a year blush.

"The Fossil sisters lived in the Cromwell Road. At that end of it which is farthest away from the Brompton Road, and yet sufficiently near it so one could be taken to look at the dolls’ houses in the Victoria and Albert every wet day."

LRDtheFeministDude Fri 21-Dec-12 23:00:19

I love Ballet Shoes too.

'And, if not too wet, expected to 'save the penny and walk'.'

notnowbernard Fri 21-Dec-12 23:03:49

It's funny, because I vividly remember LOVING it... I can still see the images I'd imagined from reading it aged 10 or whatever

But 8yo DD didn't really get into it (though we did finish it, hurrah) and I found it a bit of an endurance test this time round

I also bought Heidi for her at the same time, but she has yet to start it...

She's too stuck on JW

SorrelForbes Fri 21-Dec-12 23:06:26

Ah, I can't drive down either road without thinking about the Fossils and the dolls houses!

PrideOfChanur Fri 21-Dec-12 23:06:49

I wouldn't say "they don't stand up to revisiting" because I still like them,but I tried to read Swallows and Amazons to DS,and we just couldn't do it,it takes so long for anything to happen.
I think that may be because DS isn't a brilliant reader - I think as a fast reader I probably shot through and skimmed over things as a child.
Books were "wordier" though - we read The Eagle of the Ninth (and its sequels) and I was surprised by how complex the writing and sentence structure were.
Still love Anne of Green Gables,Little Women,Winnie the Pooh (funny - and recognisably set in a landscape I know)and I am reading the Moomins with DS at the moment,we are on our third book and he loves them (at age 12..)

neversaydie Fri 21-Dec-12 23:07:55

I found that the Moomins stood up quite well - they were the books that started DS reading to himself. He also loved Swallows and Amazons - rather to my surprise - I guess they are just as remote a fantasy world as Harry Potter to a child born at the end of the 20th century.

He quite enjoyed the Famous Five (which I loathed as a child) but only as a much abridged audio book. He also loved Winnie the Pooh and the Jungle Book as audio books.

I chucked Stalky and Co at DS a couple of weeks ago, now he has reached the grand old age of 13. That has been a total failure whereas I can remember laughing myself breathless at the dead cat episode (I was an odd child..)

And a book I adored as an 8-year-old was 'The Tree that sat Down' by Beverley Nichols. I bought a second hand copy recently and it was awful!

It is not just the attitudes and customs that date some books so badly - it wasn't until I started reading Stalky again that I realised just how much language has changed. It didn't seem particularly odd to me as a child, but it is very ornate and complicated on re-reading it now.

notnowbernard Fri 21-Dec-12 23:08:50

I really, REALLY want one of my DDs to like Anne of Green Gables...

I also adored the TV series as a child

LRDtheFeministDude Fri 21-Dec-12 23:13:09

I like 'wordy' books. A lot of the books we're mentioning and especially the Noel Streatfield ones have a real texture to the description - you can properly see and feel what's being described. There are so many things in childrens' books I loved where the description was so evocative I was really disappointed when I came across the real-life thing later on.

By contrast I think the more modern, dialogue-heavy ones like the Harry Potter books are more cinematic, faster-paced but don't in the same way make you imagine everything.

I remember quite enjoying Biggles when I was at the end of primary school, but the language of those has dated so much I can't cope with them now. Same with the Chalet school.

Does anyone else look back on the Chalet School/Malory towers and similar and think, wow, they were really bullies?! When I was little my aunt commented that she thought the fat girl who didn't like to swim in the freezing cold sea-water pool in Malory Towers had a bit of a point and I had no clue what she meant. I'm with her now!

mercibucket Fri 21-Dec-12 23:15:26

The Mr Men (and even worse, the Little Miss) books. Dire. Although my old time fave Mr Tickle was ok

I love milly molly mandy but never read it as a child. V disappointed about Biggles sad

notnowbernard Fri 21-Dec-12 23:16:44

re Malory Towers, YES!

Read some of the 1st term one with DD and it's all a bit hardcore, isn't it?!

DD couldn't get her head round 12y old Darrell being waved off on a train though, so we sort of fell at the 1st hurdle

And the girls being mean to Gwen who was crying because she missed her Mother... and the Mother being described as a wuss for being upset when waving Gwen off

notnowbernard Fri 21-Dec-12 23:17:43

DD2 loves the Noddy books which are quite arduous

LRDtheFeministDude Fri 21-Dec-12 23:23:29

Oh, yes. sad Those bits ... I guess it's how society has changed.

I remembered something else that really doesn't work for me now. There's a famous five book where Anne (naturally! hmm) makes them all nice comfy bunny-fur blankets by sewing together the skins from rabbits the boys and George trapped while they're all hiding out on Kirrin Island.

At the time I thought how lovely and snuggly rabbit-skin blankets would be.

Now I can only think about uncured skin, with gobbets of rabbit-flesh clinging to it, drying stiff as a board. Ewwwwww!

Pleasenomorepeppa Fri 21-Dec-12 23:25:36

I've just re-read Ballet Shoes & Theatre Shoes & loved them!!
I've got all my old children's books (hundreds of them!) on a bookshelf in DDs room as my parents downsized & gave them to me & I can't bear to throw them out!
So far she can only cope with Topsy & Tim (she's 3.7). They're all the very early ones & so different from the copies you buy now.
I agree with Mr Men, I've actually given them away as I can't bear to read them.
Some Enid Blyton, like Mr Twaddle & Noddy I find really dull, oh & the Sunshine book of short stories. It sends me into a daze!!

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