Books We Loved (Way Back When)

Enough about books we didn’t love – how about those we DO love? I’ve loved to read as long as I was able, and before that, I loved to be read to. I had a favorite book back then, too – actually, a favorite set. The collection doesn’t appear to have a name other than “The Wonderful World of Disney.” There are four books, all published in 1965 (yes, they’re older than me. 🙂  ). They’re Fantasyland, Worlds of Nature, America, and Stories from Other Lands. It’s the latter that contains my first favorite story: “The Cold-blooded Penguin.”

I was probably three at the time. Both my parents can probably recite this story from memory, even now, because I asked them to read it to me almost every night.

“The Cold-blooded Penguin” is about a penguin who didn’t enjoy living in cold Antarctica. It’s based on an animated short that was part of the 1944 feature film The Three Caballeros.

While all of his penguin buddies were out swimming and tobogganing and doing fun, outdoorsy things, Pablo hid out in his igloo with a woodburning stove, trying to keep warm. One day it occurred to Pablo that he could move north. He tried walking, but froze (and had to be rescued by his penguin friends. He eventually decided to cut himself a boat out of the ice surrounding his igloo, and sailed north.

Not surprisingly, his boat melted before he reached the tropical island of his dreams. When nothing was left but his bathtub, he stuck the showerhead into the drain, and it magically drew water up through the pipes and propelled the boat forward! (This was the funniest part in the cartoon.)

Of course at age three, it didn’t occur to me to wonder about the magical showerhead, or where Pablo got wood for his stove in Antarctica, or why he needed a bathtub in his igloo. But it was a great story, and still is. I also still love penguins!

I also still own the four Wonderful World of Disney books. In my copy of Stories from Other Lands, the picture above has black crayon covering the sky above the igloo, and Pablo’s belly. I’m sure I did it. I have no idea why.


Check out “The Cold-blooded Penguin” on YouTube:

Do you remember your first favorite book or story? I’d love to hear from you! Maybe I’ll (re)discover some more oldies (or not so old) but goodies!

15 Responses to \

  1. My favorites were from a four-volume set too! I have no idea who published them. There were books on fairy tales, fables, mother goose, and modern tales. It was in those that I read the Selfish Giant, Gerald McBoing-Boing, Blue Beard, Sleeping Beauty, and Aesop’s fables. Great collection. I need to ask my parents whatever happened to them!

  2. Oh gee, where to start? There were so many! I’ll comment for both halves of C.D. Hersh on this one, since our tastes ran differently as youngsters. Catherine loved Cinderella. Her first memories of a book are tied to a picture of her and her sister. Catherine is holding a Golden Book about Cinderella, upside down since she didn’t know how to read at age 4, but she still remembers the story read by her mother. Later her favorites were Mary Poppins, a book Grandma had on her shelves, and the Little House on the Prarie series by Laura Igalls, read long before the TV show gained popularity. Donald’s favorites were Tom Mix and the Hardy Boy series. Love the pictures from your favotite book, Jennette. They are adorable!

  3. Julie – I had a book of fairy tales that I loved, too! It was a defective book sold at (I hope) a steep discount – one of the stories was incomplete, and there were duplicated pages in others. I haven’t heard of the first two tales you mention. Hopefully your parents kept your books!

    Catherine – your tastes and mine were similar! I had tons of Little Golden Books, I think Cinderella among them.These Disney books were produced by the same publisher. And I still love Mary Poppins! Donald – I never read Tom Mix, but I enjoyed the Hardy Boys when I was a little older (Nancy Drew too, of course!). Thanks for sharing!

  4. Everything that Jules Verne and Mark Twain wrote 🙂
    I also had a wonderful seven-volume collection of fairy tales. Hardcover tomes, beautifully illustrated. I wonder where these books are now…

  5. I loved Half Magic. I don’t remember ever being read to as a child. I asked my mom about it once and she said I didn’t want her to read to me because I didn’t want to admit I couldn’t read myself! But I remember coming home the first week of school and proudly reading a whole book to my parents. Dick, Jane, Sally, and Spot, of course!

  6. Fabio, gotta love those fairy tales! And seven volumes must’ve been fantastic!

    Michele, I’m not familiar with Half Magic. But just the title sounds great! I remember Dick, Jane and Spot too. 🙂

  7. Oh there were so many! Anything by Dr. Suess. And I had the “Children’s Book of Fairy Tales”. The thing was huge, or seemed like it to me. I loved every story in there from The Little Match Girl to The Little Princess to The Secret Garden. Alice in Wonderland, another favorite. When I got a bit older A Wrinkle in Time. So many…ah the memories. I’ve been looking up Dr. Suess quotes all night because I saw an ad for The Lorax. Awesome stuff 🙂

  8. Great post.

    I remember Harold Hare and all the Aesop fables and Grimm’s Fairy tales in particular. Roald Dhal’s children’s stories. My collections began with Enid Blyton but Eleanor M Brent-Dyer’s Chalet School books were the ones that really caught my attention and I had every single one of those. They ended up dog-eared if I remember. All the classics of course, Trollope, Herman Melville, Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness gripped me by the throat when I was fifteen.

  9. Alicia – Little Match Girl sounds familiar, but I don’t remember it.

    Melinda – Loved Dr. Seuss! And all of the others you named, except Little Match Girl. (Hmm, need to check that one out).

    Coleen – I loved Madeline, too! I remember my first grade teacher reading it to us. Or maybe kindergarten?

    CC – I loved fairy tales, too! I somehow managed to get through school without ever being assigned Melville, or Trollope, though I think we read Heart of Darkness sometime in high school. Thanks, everyone for stopping by!

  10. I have always loved books, too. As a beginning reader I read a lot of Dr. Seuss and the Madeline books. My mother read Shakespear to me as bedtime stories, along with a book of tales about the Billy Goats Gruff. In elementary school it was the Anne of Green Gables series. My favorite book of all time, though, was a novel I read in middle school called “Say Goodnight, Gracie.” I don’t remember who wrote it. But it is the book that made me stay a reader for life. Fun post!

  11. My first favoite book (around age 3) was The Goose that Laid the Golden Egg. I never liked to read myself until about age 10, when I discovered Nancy Drew. Once I read a Nancy Drew mystery, I realized that reading could be fun!

  12. Maria, I loved Nancy Drew, too! I think the Goose that Laid the Golden Egg was in my fairy tale book, too. 🙂 Although I have a hard time remembering not being into reading!

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