Posted by Christopher at 4.36pm
A helter-skelter of deadlines has kept me away from this blog, but I’m now back to breathe some much-needed life into it before it withers on the vine. Lots of exciting news to come about books on the horizon, but first I wanted to share a rather wonderful discovery I recently made whilst browsing in a local charity shop.
Now I love bookshops of all descriptions, but there’s something rather magical about the random literary treasures that you can find lurking inside a charity shop. If you delve past the spinners of dog-eared romance novels and burrow through the thickets of John Grisham and Dan Brown, then you might be able to unearth a fabulous gem.
I was skimming the shelves in search of such treasure, when I spotted this. It wasn’t a book – it was a box...
Fantastic fiction was the promise on the side – all for the bargain price of £3! I quickly pushed my way past the racks of free Catherine Cookson DVDs from the Daily Mail and hurried to the counter, the box clutched tightly to my chest.
The familiar logo on the front had already brought back fond memories of the Puffin Book Club, but as I slid the books out of the box I realised that there were more pieces of my childhood captured inside.
Mrs Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O’Brien. Just opening the cover of this book, I was transported with an Alain Prost-ian rush (like a Proustian rush, but even quicker as it’s driving a 1980s Formula One car) back to a leaky pre-fab classroom in my old primary school. A wintry darkness licks at the classroom window as the teacher unfolds the story of the extraordinary rats of NIMH...
Thunder and Lightnings by Jan Mark. This book was to blame for the sudden rash of drawing pins that studded my bedroom ceiling one summer as a squadron of badly-painted Airfix models took flight. Sorry Mum! A wonderful story of friendship, rather shamefully, it remains the only book by Jan Mark that I’ve ever read.
A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula Le Guin. Before I read The Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings, before I battled The Warlock of Firetop Mountain or braved the depths of the Forest of Doom, this book was my introduction to fantasy. I remember being spellbound by the story of Ged’s fledgling powers, his magical training at a school for wizards, the scar he receives from a dark spirit summoned from the dead and Ged’s quest to rid the world of this nameless shadow that stalks him. Wait a second, isn’t that the plot of Harry...
There were more great books in the box, but these were the ones that took me back to the library of my childhood. They’re now sitting on the shelf in my study, waiting for my own children to grow older and turn their pages. Three pounds for a treasure chest of classic children’s fiction – have you got a bookshop find that beats that?