A story about stories

A few months ago, I discovered these 4 books in a bookcase in the house I’m looking after and was so excited. But I only had time to snap a quick shot. I forgot about them.

Childhood memories-2

Until now, when the weekly photo challenge asked us to do some visual storytelling:

Though a single image can tell a complete story, adding photos to a series can even further expand upon a narrative… A single image can encompass what would otherwise require a long written narrative — the characters, the setting, even the plot…

Does this single image tell a story?

It does for me. It invokes the feeling of having a special place to sit and read, a place where I can lose myself for hours. I was almost an only child (with three much older sisters, who had already left home when I came along) and reading was my solitary pleasure. Once I’d outgrown these stories, and even though it is passé and even politically incorrect to admit to it, I voraciously read every single Noddy, Famous Five, Secret Seven and Nancy Drew I could get my young hands on. I did not know any better.

Does the story change if I introduce more images?

Yes, it becomes a mixture of my story, both then and now and the story of this particular set of books.

I had a set of these books as a child but had forgotten that. Until I opened one of them today and started scanning through the stories. I was back in my special reading place, a child once again.

I sat on the outside bench in the morning sun with my tea and paged through the blue book (“Bedtime Stories”) for stories that I would recognise. I  immediately remembered stories as the illustrations brought back the details. They are from The Little Golden Book Library box set and from the contents pages I can see they were first published in 1948 and then regularly until 1969.

Scuppers the adventurous dog
Scuppers the adventurous dog Image © Deborah Ann Stott 2018

I came across “The Sailor Dog“- the story of Scuppers. I read the story and remembered why I must have loved it. A short tale of a dog, born at sea who yearned always to be back on the sea. From a child’s perspective, a story of adventure, survival and creativity (he builds himself a house when he is shipwrecked and then decides he is capable of fixing his battered boat).


Except, now, of course, I am older and I need glasses to read the story and a soft blanket to sit on, to make the bench comfortable. Still making myself a special and comfortable place to read I suppose. And as I read the story, I am critical of some aspects of it – how convenient that a toolbox is washed up on the beach, that he has money to buy himself new clothes in an Army and Navy store no less. But I must not let these adult criticisms dampen my childish love of the story.

I read the story about “Daddies” and feel my hackles rise. The images portray women as (mothers) sitting in the park tending to children, shopping (with children), as subordinate to men. Of course, when the story was written, these are the things daddies did, but the gender stereotyping irritates me now. I wish I knew how I felt about that as a child.

I also saw that this copy of the blue book is battered – well-loved would be a better way to describe it. The inside cover has been taped with masking tape, the stained and crinkled contents page tells that story. So too is the pink one “Golden Favourites”. Both volumes have obviously been favourites for the family who live in this house – maybe for the adults. It makes me curious about their story with this box set. Have the ‘modern’ children who live here read some of these stories? What are their thoughts on the stereotypes and clichés?

Were these volumes my favourites too, I wondered?

Yes, no doubt about it. Tales of The New Baby; The Kitten who thought he was a Mouse; Little Boy with a Big Horn; Tawny Scrawny Lion from the blue and pink volumes, instantly transported me straight back to when I was a kid in Zimbabwe. Less exciting are the green one (about our wonderful world, less adventure and more learning) and the yellow one containing well-known fairy tales which you can read anywhere.

I have no recollection of where my family got these books from, nor do I know where they went. Where did they end up? More than likely they were victims of my parents ruthless ‘sharing’ when they divorced. I just know they were a part of my life. Making me feel both happy and sad when I come to think of it.

Debbie blog sign off 2018

3 thoughts on “A story about stories

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