Amen to Wind in the Willows. Narnia Chronicles, Railway Children, but above all, for me the Annual treat of a Rupert Bear Annual. In the heyday period when Alfred Eadmedes Bestall wrote and drew the stories from his retreat in Beddgelert, N. wales, the arrival of the Rupert annual was, for me, imperative.
Where else will you get story lines like:
'Dad', (says Rupert, to his father who as always is in the garden, smoking a very non pc pipe) 'Where does all the smoke from bonfires go to?'
'Don't know son.' (Wouldn't inspire a parenting skills advisor this one.)
and so the stage is set to discover where all this smoke from bonfires up and down the country goes. The answer? It is channelled by a network of cunningly concealed pipes to volcanoes that 'use and awful lot!'
If you're unable to read, well, guess the story from the pictures. If you can only read a bit or are tired, read the rhyming couplet that so often ends with:
"And so they tell of where they've been
And all that they have done and seen.'
If you're clever, read the full story at the bottom. Notice the tiny figues that appear at the head of the page, all drawn from other stories. Lose yourself in the endpapers or the paper-folding exercise. All for a couple of shillings. The main element, missing from so many books today is love. Bestall, and other artists who took up the mantle of illustrating Rupert did it for very little reward.
And yes, I still read them.