Friday, April 2, 2010

Joybird's Library: Gone-Away Lake

I love children's books.  No, seriously, ninety percent of the books I own are children's books.  And, since most of my stuff is in storage, this translates to approximately 38 boxes of children's books.  I even imagine an entire room devoted to books, my own library in my big little house of dreams. 

I think it all began with my parents reading to me and my little brother, complete with character voices.  Just to see if we were paying attention, my dad would slip in that somebody, Ebenezer Scrooge for example, was sitting down to eat a nice, piping hot slice of pizza.  This was, of course, followed by a chorus of objections and corrections. Then there were the trips to the library with mom.  It was one of the first places we visited whenever we moved (which was often).  I still love the smell of libraries.  I walk in the door and get an excited feeling in the pit of my stomach, adventure awaits.  Finally, my Grandma Arlene sealed the deal in the third grade.  She gave me the most amazing gift a budding bibliophile could ask for: boxes and boxes of my mother's books.  Her entire juvenile collection was, and is, mine.  This even included a few volumes of a series my Great-Grandma Big (more on that random name in another post) read as a child.

Since I have this lovely obsession passion, I thought I'd share it with you.  Today's recommendation from Joybird's Library is "Gone-Away Lake" by Elizabeth Enright.  I've been intrigued with this book for a very long time, but was only able to read it fairly recently. It's the story of two cousins who happen upon an abandoned vacation settlement on a lake that has been turned into a bog by the building of a dam.  They meet the eccentric inhabitants of this settlement and, of course, have wonderful adventures. 

In my Southern childhood I stumbled upon a "Gone-Away Lake" of my own.  The wonder and mystery of that discovery has never left me: the dusky light as picking blackberries with friends in the woods lead us to crest a hill with an astonishing sight on the other side.  A huge, almost flat muddy expanse with pockets of reeds and other bog plants.  None of us knew what had caused the lake/pond to dry up but that memory retains a magical, dreamlike quality for me.

But I digress. (Warning, this may happen a lot.)  The events of Gone-Away Lake are not just the clichéd misadventures of kids learning about themselves in nature.  The author creates unique three dimensional characters.  I love the portrayal of friendship between elderly characters and children.  There is a camaraderie and respect between the generations that I don't often find in more modern children's literature; at least, not developed in such an unforced manner.  Ms. Enright's style is breezy. But there is a subtle humor in her writing. "He was a tall boy with curly brown hair; he was going to be very handsome, but he didn't know it yet.  Neither did anyone else."  I like the authenticity of her characters' mindsets, which differ by age.    It's also refreshing to lose yourself in a safer era when parents could allow their kids to disappear into the woods exploring, every day, all summer without fear.  I'd recommend this book to readers age 7 to 11 who enjoy stories with animals, nature or history. 
Happy reading,
Blog Med Sig 4


angel said...

Hi Joy! Love, love, love your blog, very you and very beautiful and well written, found I had to read it all the way to the end and I've had a very short attention span lately so keeping my attention is a challenge. I was thinking that you should try writting children's books since you have time during this season of your life. You obviously have a passion for them so why not play with that a bit, who knows that could be the direction God takes you, you could be the next big author and my kids could be reading your words someday. The thought just kept comming back as I read through your words. I love you and what a blessing to have you in my life. I look forward to seeing where this blog goes!

Joybird said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joybird said...

So let's try this again...thank you, Angel. Thanks for the encouragement.

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