Monday, February 1, 2016

What books inspired you as a child?

Eric Barker asked this question in his blog summary today.  He asked various people what books inspired them in childhood.  I want to think about that in my own case.  

There was a series of biographies that featured a silhouette of the subject of each volume.  I know I felt rich just looking at all the titles but the one that stands out sixty years later was the one on George Washington Carver.  I was impressed by the portrait of ingenuity, imagination and diligent research.  At the time, I wasn't equipped to grasp what a genius a person would have to be to do what he did.  A black man born into slavery in the 1860's Missouri, he went on to make many discoveries about plants and their uses.

As I tried to recall books that mattered, I thought of espionage.  When I was a fifth grader, I had a romantic notion of outwitting bad guys.  In my books, the baddies were all guys, no girls.  I felt I was up to the tasks, whatever they might be.  I have tried finding again the name of a book or its author that told me about a wily fugitive from the enemy forces who managed to join those searching for him and then slip away.  I remember the Allied trick of sending a rat running across the cell of a man suspected of working for the enemy and hearing him exclaim in his native language, verifying their suspicions.

I don't trust my memory, especially for childhood books. I remember Merritt Parmalee Allen's "Mudhen", a lanky, very cool teen, outstanding for good humor and laziness.  Ever since reading about his fictional adventures, I have tried to focus on laziness, with some success, I might add.

I asked my wife about her book inspirations as a child and the first thing she mentioned was a biography of George Washington Carver!  We didn't meet until college but clearly we were being guided toward each other

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