Thursday, August 18, 2011

Kind of a freaky thing . . .

Just found out something kind of interesting about me and J.K. Rowling . . .

When I was about 10-11 years old my mother showed me a book list from The Friend magazine. (Way back in the *olden* days of The Friend they used to do a list of monthly book recommendations.)

My mother said: "This sounds like a book you might like." She was often on the look-out for books I'd like to read. Probably trying to satiate my book appetite since I read constantly.

Next time I went to the library (which was about every couple of weeks to the city library - and nearly daily to the school library during lunchtime.) we checked out the book and I took it home with me.

The book was THE LITTLE WHITE HORSE by Elizabeth Goudge. 

I gulped it down with my usual ferocity - and back when I was in elementary school I read nearly a book a day, rereading my favorites when I ran out of library books or my pile of Scholastic Book order Books.

THE LITTLE WHITE HORSE easily became my all-time favorite book of my childhood. I read it over and over again, wept, tingled with excitement, and was swept away in the mystery of the manor house and the magical setting and people and creatures. Plus I adore anything Victorian and English since my grandparents were immigrants from Leeds, England. It was my lifelong dream to go to England, although I didn't make it there until I was 40 years old.

. . . so for decades now if anybody asked me what my favorite book from childhood was, I automatically said, THE LITTLE WHITE HORSE.

An interesting thing always happened: Nobody else had ever heard of this book! Nobody else had ever read it!

And yet, the book is STILL IN PRINT AFTER 65 YEARS!!! And NO, I am nowhere near 65! The book was actually quite old when I read it, about 30 at the time.

It's a true Classic in my opinion, embodying all those wonderful, mysterious elements and fantastical people and creatures that children - and adults - love. I even read it during my busy college years when I found it on the library shelves at BYU. Just couldn't help myself!

During all these years I've never been able to discuss the book with anybody else - because nobody I've ever known has ever read the book - so imagine my surprise to find out yesterday that J.K. Rowling of Harry Potter fame and fortune, announces that THE LITTLE WHITE HORSE was her favorite book from childhood! Maybe she had more access to Elizabeth Goudge's books living in England because it is true that there was only one other book by Goudge in my hometown library and I never knew that she actually wrote lots and lots of books.(The other book was LINNETS AND VALERIANS. And yes, I own that, too.)

I love the re-issue cover of the book - so beautifully mysterious and luscious.

Maybe I need to buy another copy. I have one from about 10 years ago with a different cover.

Maybe I need to buy several and start passing them out!

Anybody out there ever read this book? Spill! Comment! Share the love!

Does anybody know a contemporary child who has read it? What do they think of it? 

Go here to read about the book and a synopsis:

The Elizabeth Goudge Website and Society here:


Amie Borst said...

i have never read that book, but i think i'm going to now!

and what an interesting tidbit you share with ms. rowling!

Kristina said...

Never heard of it but it's going on my to read list :d Thanks for sharing!

Tere Kirkland said...

Never even heard of it, but thanks for the recommendation, Kimberly!

One of my absolute favorites growing up was called "Quest for a Maid" (period magical realism/fantasy), and no one had ever heard of that one either. I still remember the first line:

"When I was nine years old, I hid under a table and watched my sister kill a king."

Really stayed with me, as you can tell. ;)

Caroline Starr Rose said...

I have a copy on my shelf (though I've yet to read it -- for shame!) and bought it on the recommendation of author Gladys Hunt, who wrote HONEY FOR A CHILD'S HEART and HONEY FOR A WOMAN'S HEART. Basically, they're books about books and are wonderful. I feel like Gladys (who sadly died last year) is a dear friend because many of the books she loves are books I've loved, too.

My copy of THE LITTLE WHITE HORSE has a JK Rowling blurb on the back (as does my copy of I CAPTURE THE CASTLE -- another Gladys Hunt recommendation).

Diana said...

I am familiar with the book but haven't read it yet. I recently watched The Secret of Moonacre (on Netflix streaming) which is based on the book. I know it's just an adaptation but I really enjoyed it and it reminded me that the book, The Little White Horse, has been on my LIST for years. I want to own a hardcover copy but it seems like only paperback is readily available. I should hit some used or antique bookstores (ah, love those places!)

Kimberley Griffiths Little said...

Amie: I hope you love it, too!

Kristina: Hope you enjoy it as well! I'd love to hear what you all think after you read it.

Tere: Oh my gosh, what a FANTASTIC first line! Going off to look for Quest for a Maid right now!!! Sounds like my kind of book!

Caroline: What a wonderful story about Gladys, I love that. And yes, I see that Rowling does blurb The Little White Horse now, although I didn't see it there first, but read an article about her and the book. Will have to look for I CAPTURE THE CASTLE now, too. Thanks for all the wonderful stories, Caroline!

Diana: Hi Diana, so fun to see you here, thanks for commenting! Yes, I wish I could find a hardcover, too. And I had no idea there was a MOVIE. Off to check my Netflix account! Thanks!

Rebecca Donnelly said...

It was also listed on Betsy Bird's Top 100 chapter books poll from a couple of years ago, which is where I first heard of it. It come in at #84.



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