Don't Eat With Your Mouth Full

Where can we live but days?

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Where are the Snowy Owls of Yesteryear?
In my first Children's Fiction class of the year I always ask the students to talk about a book that was important to them in childhood. This time, for the first time in a dozen years, not one of the 18 mentioned Harry Potter. The HP generation appears to have passed. No one sat a-tremble on the eve of their 11th birthday to see if an owl would bring them the anticipated letter to Hogwarts. (They ought of course have been waiting to discover whether they were an Old One, which is much cooler.)

There was only one mention each of Dahl (The BFG) and Blyton, specifically Malory Towers. Jacqueline Wilson held up well, though, breasting the tape with Percy the Park Keeper.
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What books did they mention? Were there any consensus favorites?

It was a pretty wide spread, with everything from Black Beauty and Anne of Green Gables up to Michael Morpurgo.

Never heard of Percy the Park Keeper, but very glad to see that Darrel and co are still read.

Where is the owl gone? Where the letter? Where the hat of sorting?
Where are the seats at the feast? Where are the revels in the hall?

How that time has passed away,
grown dark under cover of night, as if it had never been.

Which reminds me of The Wanderer's Lament for a Cooked Breakfast

Where is the egg gone? Where is the bacon?
Where is the sausage that was sizzling?
Where are the beans and the fried potatoes?
Where is the slice of fried bread?
Alas for the greasy frying pan!
Alas for the cooker of sausages!
Alas for the well-laden breakfast table!
Now that time has passed away,
Dark under the cover of night
As if it had never been!

Edited at 2014-09-23 05:38 pm (UTC)

I love this.

Thank you! :-)

(I'm rather proud of it).

Edited at 2014-09-23 06:37 pm (UTC)

That is excellent!

Thank you :-)

(Deleted comment)
Somehow I never came across Nancy Drew - as in, never heard of - until much later. Nor the Hardy Boys neither - although I did have a brief but intense fling with the Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators series, which I imagine may have been similar.

I did once have a conversation (with someone who is younger than me but is now an adult) where I said, "I was really disappointed when I turned eleven and nothing happened." She said, "Hogwarts?" I said, "I'm ten years older than you. No."

My students are past the Harry Potter generation too. It's all Hunger Games right now, I think.

And I was disappointed when I read "Mimsy Were the Borogoves"-- I was already too old to get any good from the educational toys from the future.

So what was it ten years before Hogwarts?

As steepholm suggested above, The Dark is Rising. (Of course, The Dark is Rising is older than me, but I fell madly in love with it at the age of ten.)

When I was last in a session where people were volunteering favorite books from their childhood, I noticed that most of the offerings were YA, so I went to the other end and picked picture books. I particularly fondly remembered those by P.D. Eastman, a colleague and contemporary of Dr. Seuss, who wrote Are You My Mother? and Go, Dog, Go.

If asked when I was 18, though, I'd probably have named The Hobbit, as the most influential book on my life.

Are You My Mother? was fondly remembered by me, too, though I preferred the "proper" Dr Seuss books. I learned to read with Green Eggs and Ham, which has to make that a pretty significant book in my life.

a book that was important to them in childhood.

I have trouble answering that question in the singular. I posted at inordinate length about it in 2006. And still forgot to include Eleanor Cameron's Mr. Bass's Planetoid (1958)!

(They ought of course have been waiting to discover whether they were an Old One, which is much cooler.)

My parents gave me The Dark Is Rising for my eleventh birthday.

Edited at 2014-09-24 02:55 am (UTC)

My parents gave me The Dark Is Rising for my eleventh birthday.

I admire them!

Being an Old One would be so terrifying, though! All that responsibility!

There's that. But I'd rather have Merriman on my side than Dumbledore. (Intergenerational "My dad could beat up your dad"!)

Oh no, you're right there ... at least he's honest with you!!

Honestly I'm fairly certain I read Narnia before HP OR TDIR, but would choose Merriman over Aslan.

Teaching, as I do, a younger set of students, I have encountered this already. It's quite dismaying as it was so helpful to be able to compare Bellatrix Lestrange and Severus Snape when discussing flat versus round characters (I don't know what Forster would think, but it worked for me!), and suddenly last year it wasn't quite working anymore. As mentioned by rymenhild there is The Hunger Games (but, whatever else one might think of the relative merits of the two texts, THG is significantly more focused and less, well, baggy in a way that makes it less likely that it will be useful to teach any given literary concept one wants to deal with). I'm afraid that coming up it could be Divergent, which put me off enough that, unlike either THG or HP, I was unable to read past the first book.

Man, I still vividly remember when one of my best friends, exactly half a year older than I, turned 11 and I was just so jealous. That having been said, I have to agree with forochel that, as an adult, I'm not convinced I would wish having been an Old One on myself as a kid over and above being a HP-verse witch. It's actually a really difficult choice - going to Hogwarts would have been cool and not ultimately all that scary or threatening, but it wouldn't have added much metaphysical depth to life, and I might have just ended up being disappointed. Being an Old One would have given me Meaning, but it would have made everything so much more difficult and painful. . . .

I realized I didn't really believe in magic when I read High Wizardry at 11 (Dairine, of course, was also 11 when she became a wizard) and got to the part about "beating her fists against the walls of life, knowing that there's more, more," and I realized I'd felt that way my entire life and that there wasn't actually more. Possibly given the choice I'd rather wish my 11-year-old-self to have been a Diane Duane wizard above either of the other options; it seems like the best compromise.

Edited at 2014-09-25 06:09 am (UTC)

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