November 19, 2004

More Sci-Fi Babe Polling And A Denture-Loosening Literary Segue

Yes, you read that right. Allow me to explain.

First, our pal JohnL at TexasBestGrok has got his latest Sci-Fi Babe Poll up. (Go to John's main page to vote. Also, be sure to click on the Gallery of Space Beauties for winners from past polls, although I see it is still reporting the blatent lie that Ardala beat Col. Deering.)

This time around, the contest is between two characters from a show I've simply never heard of: Land of the Giants.

I clicked over and discovered that the show was about a band of space castaways. (Where have I heard that idea before?) But what tickled me is that the name of their ship is the "Spindrift".

Por qua? Because I was just thinking of a book I used to read a lot as a child called The Spindrift. It was the story of a boy who joins a group of rebel privateers operating in the shallows of Long Island Sound during the American Revolution, focusing in particular on a point of land called the Devil's Anvil or something like that. I can't seem to find the book on Amazon, which is not surprising. Sound at all familiar to anyone?

The Spindrift was part of my first big blossoming as a reader. When I was in third or fourth grade, I started to participate in those school-based book sales. You know - kids would get a catalog from Scholastic Publishers (or whoever it was) to take home and pick whatever they wanted. It seems to me now that I used to order fifteen or twenty books at a go and my parents, bless them, never ever objected. In fact, I trace my love of reading back to these events.

Looking back, I can't remember many of the books I got, but a few stand out.

One was "Griese/Csonka - The Miami Dolphins' One-Two Punch". Okay, not exactly litterchure. But I had been a 'Fins fan ever since about 1970, so of course I had to have this.

Another was a story about a group of children in Nazi-occupied...Norway, I think, that smuggle some gold out of a town by hiding it on their sleds and sledding past the troopers. I can't remember the name of this book.

Yet another was about a couple of Jewish children who escape Nazi-occupied Austria and smuggle out their family's diamonds in the water bottle of the little girl's doll. Again, I can't remember the name of the book. At one point, the children are searched by a German Army matron on a train. I remember that as being one of my first tastes of literary suspence.

Just so you don't get the idea of a theme emerging here, I'll also mention a book I was very fond of about a boy from Boston who runs away to the Gold Rush. The family butler, proper to the point of idiosycracy, decides to follow in order to protect the boy. They stow away on a steamer going round the Horn, are discovered and barter their passage in return for shovelling coal in the boiler room. The rest of the book is about their adventures in the California mining fields and culminates in the butler wedding the boy's (widowed) mother, who had come in search of him.

Again, I can't remember the name of this book. But it was made into a Disney movie starring Suzanne Pleshette. I was very excited about this because I had a crush on her at the time (from watching too much Bob Newhart). But I was bitterly dissappointed when I finally saw the movie because it completely revised the plot of the book, which I practically had memorized at the time. (Does this rant sound familiar? You can see that my hatred of this sort of thing goes way, waaaay back.)

How about you lot? What are some of your early reading memories?

Posted by Robert at November 19, 2004 02:23 PM | TrackBack

Another was a story about a group of children in Nazi-occupied...Norway, I think, that smuggle some gold out of a town by hiding it on their sleds and sledding past the troopers. I can't remember the name of this book.

Oh, My God!

I read this book, loved it, and to this day cannot remember the name of it! I was trying to find it for one of my nieces, who takes after her auntie and not only loves reading, but adores nasty Nazi tales as well, but a massive search turned up nada.

If you ever figure it out, let me know.

Posted by: Kathy at November 19, 2004 02:41 PM

Thank for the memory! Per Google, it's "Snow Treasure" written by Marie McSwigan. Memorable line: "Ja -- if the snow holds . . ."

Posted by: quiggs at November 19, 2004 03:49 PM

Bullwhip Griffin?

Posted by: David at November 19, 2004 03:50 PM

Snow Treasure! I just recently found my copy, too!

Posted by: Sarah at November 19, 2004 04:23 PM

"Snow Treasure." Yes!

David - "Bullwhip Griffin" is close. That was the name of the movie. But it was enough of a clue to get me back to the book. It's called "By The Great Horn Spoon" and was written by Sid Fleishman. The boy's name is Jack and the butler's name is Praiseworthy.

I even remember a line from the book. Jack, hardened by his time in California, is asked what he'd like to drink at a restaraunt in San Francisco. "Coffee, sir," he says to the waiter, "Coffee - with a few acorns ground up in it."

Wow. You guys rock!

Posted by: Robert the LB at November 19, 2004 04:41 PM

Johnny Tremain . . .

Tolkien . . . especially the Hobbit.

The Hardy Boys . . . though I always thought they were anticlimactic in a Scooby Doo kind of way.

I read a fantastic set of books on English history that were full of pictures, maps, etc. that I cannot remember the name of. I have never seen them since grade school.

I read a similar set on the U.S. presidents and U.S. history published, I believe, by American Heritage magazine. They had great articles, maps, etc. and political cartoons by Thomas Nast.

I read a book about a kid and his Eskimo friend who got stranded in the arctic that I thought was pretty cool. They had to build a log cabin to survive until the snow thawed and they could paddle their way out in their birch bark canoe. It was a kid's book, so there was no cannibalism angle whatsoever. Well, maybe there was in an unspoken kind of way. Or maybe that's just me.

World Book Encyclopedia, 1955 edition. Any Encyclopedia post-Eisenhower is full of crap.

Posted by: DWC at November 19, 2004 06:53 PM

Interestingly, we lived on Spindrift Dr when I left home for the Air Force.

I learned to read by the "Dr. Suess Dictionary", and I probably read "The Mad Scientist Club" by Bertrand Brinley a thousand times. Another was "The Ghost Rock Mystery" was a favorite, as were many of the Hardy Boys books.

Posted by: Ted at November 19, 2004 08:51 PM

How and Why Wonder books, especially this dinosaur one.

Posted by: Ed Flinn at November 20, 2004 10:06 AM

Ed - I had that one too. What's weird is that I was looking at one of my kids' more recent dinosaur books the other day and recognized almost none of the species names. Either the science has advanced a great deal in the 30-odd years since I was reading this stuff or else the guys in charge of the whole "Earth is older than 6000 years" myth can't keep their stories straight.

Posted by: Robert the LB at November 22, 2004 08:00 AM
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