TOpicks: Throwback Tuesday – Favourites From Your Childhood
Most people have cherished childhood books which inspired their imaginations and nurtured their love of reading. The same can be said about our favourite movies and music from our early years – they inspired or shocked us in ways that still influence us today. These memories help us grow and shape who we are as adults. We're sharing some of our childhood favourites here, as well as on Twitter.
Join our chat on Tuesday, June 11, 12:00 – 1:00 pm by following #TOpicks on Twitter and share your favourite throwbacks from your childhood!
Here are some throwbacks from our #TOpicks team:
My dad loves Peanuts and had almost the entire collection in paperback. I remember reading them, laughing and enjoying the stories but not really understanding why Charlie Brown was sad most of the time. Most people who love Peanuts often have the same refrain, “now that I am older, I understand Peanuts”– I agree with them. What hasn’t changed is my favourite character is still the philosophical, intelligent, witty and calm Linus: the anti-Calvin from Bill Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes. Mercilessly abused by his older sister Lucy, it made me cherish the fact that I was an only child.
My mother bought me the entire collection of Beatrix Potter books (in two amazing boxes with straps), and I read each from cover to cover multiple times. My favourite was The Tale of Two Bad Mice – a tale of the impact of vandalism, and the power of remorse. I found her illustrations enchanting, and because the animals were not really anthropomorphized in the traditional ways of Looney Tunes, I identified with them because some of them looked like my cat.
I have read all of Road Dahl’s books. I have never been a series reader, and I think Roald Dahl cemented that for me. Every work was a living thing which existed to bring you joy for that fleeting moment of time. Each of his books existed within its own wonderfully twisted universe, some populated with characters publishers would likely resist including in today’s climate. I got the sense that Roald Dahl was a mischievous schemer, a kindred “forever boy” rebel against adult authority, who delighted in his imaginative prose which was sometimes peppered with gross-out shock humour. Yet each book was surprisingly touching, with some deep philosophical heft that didn’t compromise on the endings.
I saw this R-rated movie when I was nine years old, and I have been a fan of director Paul Verhoeven ever since. What 9-year old boy doesn’t want to see a movie called “RoboCop”?! This was the ultimate cinematic forbidden fruit for my friends. RoboCop looked so cool on the poster, coming out of that police car looking like he was going to sort things out with relentlessly efficient cyborg policing. I rented it (that’s a whole other story), and the first scene with ED-209 made me rubberneck to make sure that my parents didn’t see what I had just seen (what they would have seen is my childhood innocence being eviscerated by military weaponry). I had never been so enraptured by a piece of cinema, yet so simultaneously thrilled and horrified by so much filthy language, mature themes (which I didn’t understand) and wanton violence. I remember making a pact with myself at the end of the movie, “If that is what the adult world is like, I will make sure I never grow up. Now to watch it again.”
First: I wish that reading as an adult felt the same as reading as a kid did. I remember how immersed I got in The Wind in the Willows, Charlotte’s Web, the Chronicles of Narnia. These were classics that took advantage of their niche status as kid-lit to deliver outsized mystical/emotional payoffs that no author of grown-up books could get away with. And I was there for it, one hundred percent.
The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White
The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis
We also had a large collection of Depression-era kids’ books, culled from my grandmother’s basement, that instilled in me an unshakable belief that thrift is the greatest of all virtues: The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes, As Told to Jennifer by Du Bose Heyward.
But if I had to choose one author who really affected me, I’d have to call out Daniel Pinkwater. His 70s and 80s kids’ books were all about funny-looking weirdo kids having wild adventures involving talking lizards, giant chickens, space bikers, anarchic outdoor saloons at the edge of town, all-night movie theatres and one small sentient popsicle that (somehow movingly!) embodied all the good in the universe. He made kids like me feel at home in the world.
Alan Mendelsohn, The Boy From Mars by Daniel Pinkwater
4 Fantastic Novels by Daniel Pinkwater
Before I made the move to adult librarianship, I worked with children and youth in the library for the better part of 6 years. One of the things I loved most about being a children’s and youth-focused librarian, was reliving my favourite books, favourite movies, and favourite music from when I was a child and teenager. Granted, I still work in some capacity with teens and children, but there was something so gratifying about suggesting one of your favourite titles to a child looking for their next read, and having them seek you out weeks later to tell you how much they loved it! It really gets you in all the feels! 😊
Here are some of my favourite throwbacks from my childhood and youth:
Moira’s Birthday by Robert Munsch
I could not get enough of this classic Munsch picture book when I was a kid. I always found myself in a fit of giggles when I read it, and I will still read it aloud to classes that visit the branch. The way Moira wants to invite grades 1-6 to her birthday party and her parents put their foot down that she can only invite 6 (that’s six: 1-2-3-4-5-6 thankyouverymuch!) and she really does try to keep the number down, but ends up somehow inviting all the kids from grades 1-6 aaaaaaand Kindergarten by the end of the day. The disasters that arise, including the bakery and the pizza parlour being unable to make the large order she asks for, and the mess that occurs in the house from having hundreds upon hundreds of schoolkids made for quite a hilarious read. But the way all of the kids ended up helping to clean, and Moira giving all of her presents away in return, definitely pulled at the heartstrings. Far-fetched? Perhaps. Heartwarming and hilarious? Absolutely.
The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner
Four orphaned siblings come upon an abandoned boxcar in a forest and begin to create a home for themselves there, until they are discovered by their grandfather. Thus begins a series in which the Henry, Jessie, Violet and Benny find themselves in all sorts of adventures and mysteries. A great series of junior sleuthing, and I read all nineteen, that were written by Gertrude Chandler Warner, more than once. The series was so popular that subsequent books were written by other authors. There are about 100 titles under The Boxcar Children heading, but I do prefer the originals, myself.
The Lion King – Disney (1994)
I saw this movie in theatres and I remember being in total awe. I laughed, I cried, I laughed some more! To this day, The Lion King remains my favourite animated Disney movie of all time. I used to watch this movie countless times on VHS; rewinding and singing along (completely offkey, mind) over and over again.
Will I be seeing the live-action remake in theatres this summer, you ask?
Oh yes, I will be there! Along with all the other adults who watched the animated movie in theatres as a kid; with my popcorn and my soda, and you bet that I will sing along – offkey and everything. Hakuna Matata! 😉
SpiceWorld – Spice Girls
I cannot quite believe I’m putting this here. Unlike my close friends, I was never a fan of pop music as a teenager. I was mostly into rock and grunge: Smashing Pumpkins, Nirvana, Tragically Hip, Metallica etc.
However, as far as nostalgia goes, the rise of the boy and girl pop bands are way up there in my memory. I was on vacation in London, England last month, and my friend and I had taken an Afternoon Tea on a Bus tour, which was such a great time! In between pointing out famous landmarks, the music on the bus were all songs of famous British bands and singers: Beatles, Oasis...and then Spice Up Your Life came pounding through the speakers. And for two women who are not big pop fans, you better believe we sang along, remembering just about every lyric, animatedly. Talk about being thrown back into your teens! Sing it with me, you know you know it:
Slam it to the left, If you’re having a good time
Shake it to the right, If you know that you feel fine
Chicas to the front, Ha! Ha! Go ‘round
Slam it to the left, If you’re having a good time
Shake it to the right, If you know that you feel fine
Chicas to the front, Ha! Ha!
Hai, si, ja, hold tight! 😀
I recently discovered some of my childhood books stashed in my mother's basement. Beyond nurturing my love of reading, the books I read as a child really shaped who I am as a person.
My friends and I watched reruns of the TV show after school and even reenacted episodes. As you can see, I loved it so much that I even acquired some novelizations. The books and the show describe the adventures of Maxwell Smart, a bumbling spy who worked tirelessly to foil the plans of the evil (and equally inept) KAOS organization. Watching the show today can be uncomfortable as some of the episodes depend on offensive racial and ethic stereotypes but it has left me with a lifelong interest in international affairs, skepticism of political leadership and love of Mel Brooks who created the show with Buck Henry. Toronto Public Library unfortunately doesn't have the books in the system (must be an oversight) but you can watch the series on DVD.
I have fond memories of Double Spell by Janet Lunn. My copy shown here has the original title: Twin Spell. I loved this book about twin sisters who buy an antique doll. Soon they experience visions of the past and bad things happen – an elderly aunt falls down stairs, for example. It was the first book I remember reading that was set in Toronto. It was a thrill to read about the girls walking down Yonge Street and seeing myself – a girl who occasionally walked down Yonge Street. At one point I also had a creepy antique doll, too!
In Charlotte Sometimes by Penelope Farmer, a young girl at boarding school lives in two different eras on alternating days after she wakes up unexpectedly in 1918 swapping places with a girl named Clare. The girls communicate by leaving notes for each other. This book inspired the song Charlotte Sometimes by The Cure.
Speaking of boarding school fiction, I was a big fan of Enid Blyton's series St. Clare's and Malory Towers. I couldn't find the Malory Towers books in my personal collection--they're probably in a box I haven't unpacked yet. These books portray an idyllic England of long ago. Although originally published between 1941-1945, World War II never comes up. Everyone is probably too busy with French lessons, tennis and secret midnight feasts to worry about the outside world, I suppose. Speaking of those midnight feasts: I was bitterly disappointed the first time I tried ginger beer. I shouldn't have been surprised--other "treats" the girls enjoyed included sardines, anchovy paste and pickled onions. I would have hated boarding school.
The library doesn't have any of the St. Clare's books but has a few in the Malory Towers series. They are only available in the Osborne Collection of Early Children's Books reference collection.
Fun fact: for years (years!) I believed the author's first name was Gnid, pronounced GA-nid because I misread her signature and wasn't smart enough to look at the title page.
Join the Conversation
Please get nostalgic with us at our TOpicks chat on Tuesday, June 11, 12:00 – 1:00 pm and follow #TOpicks on Twitter and share your favourite throwbacks from your childhood!
Not on Twitter? Share your favourites in the comments below.