Not long after reading The Librarian, which awoke memories of my childhood reading, I discovered another library book – Bookworm: A Memoir of Childhood Reading by Lucy Mangan.
The author claims to have been a bookworm to the exclusion of many other activities.
She certainly read some books at a younger age than I did. I thought I had been young to read The Lord of the Rings aged thirteen, long before the films were envisaged. I lapped it up. Lucy Mangan was younger and didn’t like it. I had already read (and reread) the Roger Lancelyn Green books of Greek myths, The Tale of Troy and Arthurian legends, which she encountered later.
Her book is well-written and intersperses childhood memories with information about books.
The section about teenage or young adult books mostly included books which I have not read as they were written fairly recently. Although I have heard of some of the authors, their books did not feature in my reading or in my children’s reading matter, which I often borrowed. It was interesting to learn of trends I had been unaware of.
At the back of the book there is a list of books for each chapter.
One thing I dscovered from this book was that I have been spelling a favourite author’s name incorrectly; Noel Streatfeild has two vowels in a different order from usual. My favourite of her books is The Painted Garden, which is about some children going to Hollywood and acting in a film. I still remember a description of how sunset in California differed from sunset in England. Perhaps Lucy Mangan had not read this book as she only mentioned White Boots and Ballet Shoes.
I have already returned the book to the library and am unable to check my facts, but I recall that Tom’s Midnight Garden was also a book she read and enjoyed.
Bookworm is an unusual way of writing about children’s books. The mixture of information about books and personal memories made an interesting read. The author grew up in the suburbs of London, as I did, but did not gain experience of the countryside until a later age than I did.
This book should be essential reading for anyone considering writing for children. Parents and teachers may also find it invaluable as an overview of children’s literature.