“People worry about kids playing with guns, and teenagers watching violent videos; we are scared that some sort of culture or violence will take them over. Nobody worries about kids listening to thousands - literally thousands - of songs about broken hearts and rejection and pain and misery and loss. ”
“My mom didn’t understand why it was so awful that “that cute little girl” had held my hand. She thought I should make friends with her. “I thought you liked soccer, honey. Why don’t you go out there and kick the ball around?”
Because I didn’t want to be kicked around, that’s why. And although I couldn’t say it like that at the time, I still had enough sense at age seven and a half to know that Juli Baker was dangerous.”
’She tried to get me to come up there with her, too. “Bryce, come on! You won’t believe the colors! It’s absolutely magnificent! Bryce, you’ve got to come up here!”
Yeah, I could just hear it: “Bryce and Juli sitting in a tree…” Was I ever going to leave the second grade behind?’
“It had all the shadings and complexities of mature adult love, and maybe more, because there were not yet words for it, and because it was not yet fixed to comparisons or chronologies or the ways by which adults measure such things. I just loved her.”
“I should’ve stepped in; fourth grade is no excuse. Besides, it doesn’t get easier with time, and twelve years later, when Vietnam presented much harder choices, some practice at being brave might’ve helped.”
“One of them was brown all over, but the other had strange markings under his fur, as though long ago he had been spotted, and the spots still showed through. And about his little soft nose and his round black eyes there was something familiar, so that the Boy thought to himself:
‘Why, he looks just like my old Bunny that was lost when I had scarlet fever!’
But he never knew that it really was his own Bunny, come back to look at the child who had first helped him to be Real.”
“He took the Velveteen Rabbit with him, and before he wandered off to pick flowers, or play at brigands among the trees, he always made the Rabbit a little nest somewhere among the bracken, where he would be quite cosy, for he was a kind-hearted little boy and he liked Bunny to be comfortable.”
“I want to be five years old again for an hour.
I want to laugh a lot and cry a lot.
I want to be picked up and rocked to sleep in someone’s arms, and carried up to bed just one more time.
I know what I really want for Christmas.
I want my childhood back.”
“Crayola plus imagination (the ability to create images) - these make for happiness if you are a child. Amazing things, Crayolas. Some petroleum-based wax, some dye, a little binder-not much to them. Until you add the imagination.”
“At twelve I had already known how to think for at least four years. In teaching me independence of thought, they had given me the greatest gift an adult can give to a child besides love, and they had given me that also.”
“Oh, but she never wanted James to grow a day older! or Cam either. These two she would have liked to keep for ever just as they were, demons of wickedness, angels of delight, never to see them grow up into long-legged monsters. Nothing made up for the loss.”
″‘Nate, why don’t you go outside for a while? I saw some kids playing out there.’
‘But I don’t know them.’
‘Then go get acquainted. When I was your age, I was friends with whoever happened to be out roaming the neighborhood.’
‘Sounds like a good way to get stabbed by a hobo,’ Nate grumbled.
‘You know what I mean.‘”
“It’s funny, when you’re a child you think time will never go by, but when you hit about twenty, time passes like you’re on the fast train to Memphis. I guess life just slips up on everybody. It sure did on me.”
“Most folks think you start to be a real adult when you’re fifteen or sixteen years old, but that’s not true, it really starts when you’re around six. It’s at six that grown folks don’t think you’re a cute little kid anymore, they talk to you and expect that you understand everything they mean.”
“The process of shaping the child, shapes also the mother herself. Reverence for her sacred burden calls her to all that is pure and good, that she may teach primarily by her own humble, daily example.”
“The causes of his embitterment were many, remote and near. He was angry with himself for being young and the prey of restless foolish impulses, angry also with the change of fortune which was reshaping the world about him into a vision of squalor and insincerity. Yet his anger lent nothing to the vision. He chronicled with patience what he saw, detaching himself from it and tasting its mortifying flavour in secret.”
In a vague way he understood that his father was in trouble and that this was the reason why he himself had not been sent back to Clongowes. For some time he had felt the slight change in his house; and those changes in what he had deemed unchangeable were so many slight shocks to his boyish conception of the world.
“He was alone. He was unheeded, happy and near to the wild heart of life. He was alone and young and wilful and wildhearted, alone amid a waste of wild air and brackish waters and the sea-harvest of shells and tangle and veiled grey sunlight and gayclad lightclad figures of children and girls and voices childish and girlish in the air.”
“The first place that I can well remember was a large pleasant meadow with a pond of clear water in it. Some shady trees leaned over it, and rushes and water-lilies grew at the deep end. Over the hedge on one side we looked into a plowed field, and on the other we looked over a gate at our master’s house, which stood by the roadside; at the top of the meadow was a grove of fir trees, and at the bottom a running brook overhung by a steep bank.”
“Here was a gorgeous triumph; they were missed; they were mourned; hearts were breaking on their account; tears were being shed; accusing memories of unkindnesses to these poor lost lads were rising up, and unavailing regrets and remorse were being indulged: and best of all, the departed were the talk of the whole town, and the envy of all the boys, as far as this dazzling notoriety was concerned. This was fine. It was worth being a pirate, after all.”
“Oh, they just have a bully time - take ships, and burn them, and get the money and bury it in awful places in their island where there’s ghosts and things to watch, it, and kill everybody in the ships - make ‘em walk a plank. they don’t kill the women - they’re too noble. And the women’s always beautiful, too.”
″‘It’s like you said the other day,’ said Adam. ‘You grow up readin’ about pirates and cowboys and spacemen and stuff, and jus’ when you think the world’s all full of amazin’ things, they tell you it’s really all dead whales and chopped-down forests and nuclear waste hang-in’ about for millions of years. ’Snot worth growin’ up for, if you ask my opinion.‘”
“There, in childhood, there had been something really pleasant with which it would be possible to live if it could return. But the child who had experienced that happiness existed no longer, it was like a reminiscence of somebody else.”
“The narcissistic, the domineering, the possessive woman can succeed in being a “loving” mother as long as the child is small. Only the really loving woman, the woman who is happier in giving than in taking, who is firmly rooted in her own existence, can be a loving mother when the child is in the process of separation.”
″ ‘My daddy said I was a different breed of dog from my brothers and sisters. ‘You know,’ Daddy said, ‘it’s some that can live their whole life out without asking about it and it’s others has to know why it is, and this boy is one of the latters. He’s going to be into everything!’ ”
“I buried a nickel under the porch when I was 8, she said, but one day my grandma died & they sold the house & I never got to go back for it. A nickel used to mean something, I said.She nodded. It still does, she said & then she started to cry.”
“Is there a lot of stuff you don’t understand? she said & I said pretty much the whole thing & she nodded & said that’s what she thought, but it was nice to hear it anyways and we sat there on the porch swing, listening to the wind & growing up together.”
“When I was 5, he said, my family forgot & left me at the fair. I wandered around in the bright sounds & smells of hot sawdust & cotton candy for hours. It was already too late by the time my parents found me.
I haven’t been fit for decent society since.”
“There were no troublesome memories in his childish sleep; no token came to him of his brave days at college, of the glittering years when he flustered the hearts of many girls. There were only the white, safe walls of his crib and Nana and a man who came to see him sometimes, and a great big orange ball that Nana pointed at just before his twilight bed hour and called “sun.” When the sun went his eyes were sleepy – there were no dreams, no dreams to haunt him.”
“My childhood had gone by without my knowing, and it seemed as if my heart had frozen. I knew that day and night came and went because of the presence of the moon and the sun, but I had no idea whether it was a Sunday or a Friday.”
“I once heard Alan Watts observe that a Chinese child will ask, “How does a baby grow?” But an American child will ask, “How do you make a baby?” From an early age, we absorb our culture’s arrogant conviction that we manufacture everything, reducing the world to mere “raw material” that lacks all value until we impose our designs and labor on it.”
“To be born, or at any rate bred, in a hand-bag, whether it had handles or not, seems to me to display a contempt for the ordinary decencies of family life that reminds one of the worst excesses of the French Revolution.”
“To stand up straight with your shoulders back is to accept the terrible responsibility of life, with eyes wide open. It means deciding to voluntarily transform the chaos of potential into the realities of habitable order. It means adopting the burden of self-conscious vulnerability, and accepting the end of the unconscious paradise of childhood, where finitude and mortality are only dimly comprehended. It means willingly undertaking the sacrifices necessary to generate a productive and meaningful reality (it means acting to please God, in the ancient language).”
“Raw meat is not a nice thing to fill one’s pockets with, but they folded it up in fresh leaves and made the best of it. They were all experienced enough to know that they would feel quite differently about these squashy and unpleasant parcels when they had walked long enough to be really hungry.”
“When we graduate from childhood into adulthood, we’re thrown into this confusing, Cthulhu-like miasma of life, filled with social and career problems, all with branching choices and no correct answers.”
“It was nothing like what I’d dreamed of when I was a little girl—what I had hoped for myself growing up. But it was the only life I had, and it was mine. The days of waiting around for someone else to ride in and save the day for me were over.”
“When asked what he recalls of his first six years, Michael said, ‘Going for days having to drink water to get full. Going to other people’s houses and asking for something to eat. Sleeping outside. The mosquitoes.‘”
“The death of my childhood naivety had come to pass. I trusted no one and I feared nothing, not even death itself, for everything I loved in this world had already been taken away from me. Ripped from my heart like a bandage. There was nothing left inside but darkness... darkness breeding darkness, and I was at one with it now.”
“Pearl resembled the brook, inasmuch as the current of her life gushed from a wellspring as mysterious, and had flown through scenes shadowed as heavily with gloom. But, unlike the little stream, she danced and sparkled and prattled airily along her course.”
“She came from a background where nothing was ever good enough. And that was something that weighed heavy on her. But in our house together, it was a sense of just trying stuff and allowing each other to fail and to be excited about things. That was liberating for her. It was exciting to see her grow and both of us grow and change together. But that’s also the hard part: growing without growing apart or changing without it scaring the other person. I still find myself having conversations with her in my mind. Rehashing old arguments and defending myself against something she said about me.”
“Sometimes what looks out at you from a person’s eyes maybe died back in childhood. What’s dead in there still looks out. It’s not just the body looking at you with nothing in it; there’s still something in there but it died and just keeps on looking and looking; it can’t stop looking.”
“Desire is both imitative (we like what others like) and competitive (we want to take away from others what they have). As children, we wanted to monopolize the attention of a parent, to draw it away from other siblings. This sense of rivalry... makes people compete for the attention.”
“So. Avelaval. My leaves have drifted from me. All. But one clings still. I’ll bear it on me. To remind me of. Lff! So soft this morning, ours. Yes. Carry me along, taddy, like you done through the toy fair! If I seen him bearing down on me now under whitespread wings like he’d come from Arkangels, I sink I’d die down over his feet, humbly dumbly, only to washup.”
“Visual impressions are greatly intensified and the eye recovers some of the perceptual innocence of childhood, when the sensum was not immediately and automatically subordinated to the concept. Interest in space is diminished and interest in time falls almost to zero.”
“Phil talked openly about his current life, but he closed up when I asked him about his early years. With some gentle probing, he told me that what he remembered most vividly about his childhood was his father’s constant teasing. The jokes were always at Phil’s expense and he often felt humiliated.”
“It was bad enough being teased, but sometimes he really scared me when he’d say things like: ‘This boy can’t be a son of ours, look at that face. I’ll bet they switched babies on us in the hospital. Why don’t we take him back and swap him for the right one.’ I was only six, and I really thought I was going to get dropped off at the hospital. ”
Mostly we see the story through Matilda’s point of view which, as Matilda is only six, provides an interesting perspective. Frances is eleven and Elizabeth is fifteen. Each day is heralded in with news headlines, so we read about new cases in the polio epidemic and the Petrov Affair. Against this backdrop, Frances worries about a school friend with polio, Elizabeth wonders about Mrs Petrov and Matilda observes all manner of things.
Gemma and Raven are amazing characters, fully fleshed out and lovable. I liked how Gemma grew and learned that only because someone comes from a certain family, it doesn’t mean that he is less worthy or not a good friend.
Every day, eight-year-old Christine’s walk to school takes her past a talking alley cat. Christine stops and feels its warm head beneath her hand, and the cat’s insights invariably give her something to ponder.
“Babar is not quite happy, for he misses playing in the great forest with his little cousins and his friends, the monkeys. He often stands at the window, thinking sadly of his childhood, and cries when he remembers his mother.”
Equating willfulness with being special, the child then confronts other themes of life such as eternity and loneliness. The cat declares that he is immortal. The girl concludes that they are both willful. As the girl identifies with the cat they discuss some of life’s themes. Loneliness is seen in the mailman and dog. The girl attempts to show empathy, but the cat will have none of that. He does not show compassion and is irritated that the girl will not follow his lead in being pitiless.
Jamela’s Dress is a heart-warming post-apartheid South African picture book about a little girl who just can’t resist her mama’s new, expensive dress fabric. Instead of looking after it while it hung to dry, Jamela wrapped herself up in the beautiful fabric and paraded down the street, causing it to get dirty and torn. Everyone is upset with Jamela, including Jamela herself, until Archie, a local photographer, saves the day just in time for Thelma’s wedding.
When Billie Jo is just fourteen she must endure heart-wrenching ordeals that no child should have to face. The quiet strength she displays while dealing with unspeakable loss is as surprising as it is inspiring.
“She smoothed the silver hairs of her beautiful wedding parka, then carefully took it off and rolled it up. Placing it and her fur pants in a bag made of whale bladder, she tied it securely so that no moisture would dampen her clothes while she left. This she had learned in childhood, and it was one of the old Eskimo ways that she liked, perhaps the only one. She had never violated it even in the warm, gas-heated house in Barrow, for damp clothes could mean death in the Arctic.”
“Any child who has ever experienced a moment of self-doubt will be both reassured and delighted by this heartwarming tale of two very different friends and their ability to help one another feel more complete.”
“Together, they could be serious or silly, right-way-round or upside down. As long as they were together they could do anything! Any child who has ever experienced a moment of self-doubt will be both reassured and delighted by this heartwarming tale of two very different friends and their ability to help one another feel more complete.”
“Rosa’s Aunt is worried because Rosa still won’t go for walks and growls unless she gets lot of attention. The only solution seems to be daycare! Rosa is afraid. What if the dogs are mean? Maybe they will bite her.”
‘Why The Whales Came’ is a somewhat mysterious, supernatural and mystical thriller evoking so well the atmosphere and feelings of a childhood spent growing up in the Scilly Isles at the time of the First World War.
In this story of wonder and initiation during WWI on a small island group off of the western shores of Great Britain, a boy and a girl learn about rumors in small towns and destroy some demons of their village’s history.
“Roving has always been, and still is, my ruling passion, the joy of the heart, the very sunshine of my existence. In childhood, in boyhood, and in man’s estate, I have been a rover; not a mere rambler among the woody glens and upon the hill-tops of my own native land, but an enthusiastic rover throughout the length and breadth of the wide wide world.”