My Favorite Book, a Reminiscence

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I remember

Spending lazy weekend mornings

Sitting in the middle of the floor

Streams of light

Leaving shadows on the carpet.

I would be curiously bent

Over my small blue record player

Kept in its suitcase box.

I would gently pull the record

For “Bread and Jam for Frances”

Slowly out of its sleeve.

It was an especially delicate act

For a five year old

With clumsy hands

And grass stained knees

Were it not for its importance –

For words, glorious words lived inside

And with those words,

Tales were spun.

This is where I learned

The art of the reader

Swept up

Held captive

And later, gently let go

Free to imagine

To dream

To put to words

What only I could see

And after the story was read

And each earmarked page scanned,

I returned the record needle

Back to the beginning

Over and over

And over again

And since that time,

When I was just a child

I have refused to lose

My ability to dream.

(c) Sumyanna 2017

After letting the kids read this, I thought I’d try to find that version of the story online.  They had never heard this story about my favorite book before.  I am not kidding when I say I squealed with delight when I found it (and heard the voice for the girl once again, it is unmistakable).  It just transported me back in time…  childhood innocence…

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12 Comments Add yours

  1. leigha66 says:

    Ah, this brings back memories of childhood. I knew the book but not well. I do remember a lot of the book readers with the records. The days of innocence…

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    1. Sumyanna says:

      Oh, those were the days! I truly miss the innocence of those moments 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. 7128788elf says:

    I Have read Russel Hoban’s adult books and enjoyed them, but have never read or heard this one, which I enjoyed a lot. When I was growing up, we did not have portable record players, so we played everything on the music centre, which took up quite a big area of the lounge. It was only later when I was about 15 that I got my own record player, and retreated to my bedroom to study, make models of things, draw and listen to music. I had a huge record collection. I never had a favourite book like this, but I had a book story as well. I only read what I had to for school, as reading was a huge struggle (as was school) and I was quite sickly (probably as a way to miss school). One time in my early teens, mother brought me home a little ladybird book for me to read while I recovered in bed. It was called the Little warman, so I read it from page to page waiting for the hero to arrive, and save this woman from incredible boredom! I reached the end rather frustrated, there was no swashbuckling hero taking on the evils of the earth, but a wonderful mother doing her housework. I read the title again, and realised it said The little woman! It showed me though that I could read a whole book on my own and enjoy it, and after that I became a voracious reader. Thanks for sharing this poem, best wishes and blessings, Charles.

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    1. Sumyanna says:

      I hate to say that I did not even know he wrote adult books. I have always been in love with this book and the others he wrote about this character, but this one was my first taste… See, we are seriously dating ourselves, aren’t we? I had a record player – you were born before one. People are scratching their heads wondering what we are talking about 🙂 Sorry to hear you were sick when you were younger, but the way you were treated or the way you felt about your abilities could definitely contribute to that. It would be nice if people realized we ALL struggle with some things. It is so hard always feeling the need to be like everyone else instead of just being yourself, flaws, obstacles and all. I remember the Ladybird books, I had many of those. So funny – your story about “Little Woman.” My daughter smiled while reading your comment too. She would have made the same mistake and while I don’t have Dyslexia, my ADHD tends to make me quickly glance over things so I could have easily misread that as well. Oh, you waited a long time to find that hero! So incredibly glad you stuck with it, even though you might have been disappointed at the end.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. 7128788elf says:

        I guess we all have our struggles, but some people seem to be happier and more adjusted than others. When I was growing up ADHD was not known in SA, so sufferings were just labeled as over eager troublemakers. I was one of them, even though I did not suffer from ADHD. I had many Lady bird books as well, and they still sell very well in my bookshop. Actually, strangely I was not actually disappointed in the book (that’s why I have never forgotten it) I realised right from the beginning the the book itself was the hero that I was looking for, and that it had helped open up an entirely new world, and was the beginning of my imagination, creativity, and the growth of my self worth, so it was a huge book in my life, even if it was quite by accident. Another strange story of this type, was that as a special treat on a few Saturdays a year, father and I would go into town (central Cape Town) on the old puffing billy, as I used to call them, and have a day together. On this occasion we walked out of the station, and I looked up and saw a whole lot of signs saying “toilet” so I said to father, ” wow I’ve never seen so many public toilets. ” My father looked around in amazement, and asked what are you talking about. I answered it says Toilet on almost all these buildings. He scowled and said, no it says “To let” which just goes to show how badly the economy is doing! Best wishes and blessings, Charles.

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        1. Sumyanna says:

          I don’t know – the more I see other people, the more I realize that even if they seem to “have it all” we all struggle with something. It can be with our careers, our families, our past… there is always something. So glad to hear you weren’t disappointed in the book. It is amazing to think that this very book started something for you. Truly, that was my aha moment – Bread and Jam for Francis 🙂

          So funny about the toilet signs. I know exactly what you mean. Not long ago, I was talking to the girls and said my daughter said something I did not understand. I asked her to repeat and she said “thingers.” I asked her what that was and she waved her hand in front of me. Seems she always heard me say “thingers” when I truly said “fingers.” I laughed and all the girls said they though that was how I was saying it all this time. I swear, I have said “fingers” but that is what their ears have heard. Thank goodness they have never had to spell that word! I don’t care what anyone else thinks about it… hearing things wrong, reading things wrong, it is not that big of a deal to me. To me, the heart of you is what matters most and what I have learned from my you as well as my children, is that you all have wonderful gifts. I’m so incredibly glad none of you are choosing to lost sight of that.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. 7128788elf says:

            Well thanks for that, it seems your thingers must have done a lot of typing last evening! (strange spell check accepted thingers as a word!) Your daughters do seem to be very talented, and they have a mother who really cares, and helps them to grow their gifts. I have many gifts, but tend to use them in such a diffuse way that none of them really grows into maturity, except perhaps for my poetry, but even there I seem to be going through a bit of a rough patch at the moment.

            Liked by 1 person

          2. Sumyanna says:

            Fortunately, they never had to type it. That’s just the way they heard it. One day I was helping my little one spell it and they were like, “what? what word is that? I thought it was thingers!” I felt like I had failed in my teaching them… However, it is hard to dictate what one hears.

            Sometimes it is just not the right time to grow your gifts. I used to let it get me frustrated, but then I just realized that sometimes you just can’t. When I can, I hope to strive more. That is the best we can ask of ourselves 🙂

            Keep at it. Keep writing when you can and know that it will happen in its own time.

            Liked by 1 person

          3. 7128788elf says:

            One can’t argue with what you say, it is simple just how it is and has to be, and it is good to have it pointed out to one every now and again, so thanks for that, and watch this space, as they say!

            Liked by 1 person

          4. Sumyanna says:

            I will be watching 🙂

            Liked by 1 person

  3. As we age our imagination dwindles and we run for reality which is more often harsh.

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    1. Sumyanna says:

      So very true. Sad that reality should be harder than our dreams…

      Liked by 1 person

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