When I was a little girl my grandmother was a children's librarian at the East Detroit Public Library. This had many perks for me. I had lovely, award winning, hardcover children's books in my home purchased for me by my book loving gram. I was also lucky because I had many adults ( parents, grandmother, great grandmother) who loved to perform by reading in these amazing voices, making my favorite books take on a life of their own. I loved the Uncle Remus stories as told by Grammy (my great grandmother) in a really great southern accent. Two of my very favorite childhood books were The Three Billy Goats Gruff by Marcia Brown and Journey Cake Ho! by Ruth Sawyer. I've owned the billy goats for years (thanks to Scholastic book club) but had been searching for Journey Cake for years. Unfortunately I remembered it as Johnny Cake and not Journey Cake because at the end of the story the Journey Cake becomes a Johnny Cake! This summer, as I scanned the books in an antique store in Michigan I was absolutely overjoyed when I came across a perfect hardcover copy of Journey Cake Ho! As I read through the book, I feel as if I am transported back to that warm comfortable time of being snuggled up next to someone who loves me and listening to a story that is familiar and enchanting to me. I am a little surprised that these two books stand out among all of the thousands that I encountered. They are a little dark compared to the stories that I read to children in my classroom. In Journey Cake, Johnny is an orphan/servant/? who lives with an old man and an old woman. When the food runs out he is sent away. (Yikes!) (But I remember really liking that part!!!) Then the story turns into a version of the gingerbread boy with a pancake substituted for gingerbread. And of course, there is a happy ending. The story of the billy goats is (as everyone knows) a bit violent. And in this particular version the illustrations of the troll are truly awful. Thus, truly wonderful. Hmmm . . .
My love affair with books continues. There is nothing better than reading a book that pulls you into it's world so fully that you are left thinking about it for days after you finish the final page. I love it when I am reading a book that I love so much that I neglect housework, making dinner, etc. just to read a few more pages. (I'm sure my family loves that too.) I do have a confession to make, though. I never, never read a book from start to finish without checking out the ending. As many know, I detest surprises. Really. So, even when I promise myself I won't peak, as some point (usually when I'm about half way through it) I read the ending. I know. I know. I am ruining it for myself. I even do this when a story is predictable and I know what's going to happen. My latest read is Love Walked In by Marisa De Los Santos. This is one of those "sorry we're having sandwiches for dinner but I couldn't stop reading" books for me. And today, as soon as I realized where things were heading in the story, I skipped ahead to the end. (It's a great ending by the way!)