Monday, October 25, 2010

re-reading old favorites

One of the best things about having kids is getting to read all your old favorite books again. Although, having boys, most of the books I loved as a kid get sneered at and passed over in favor of something with airplanes on the cover. But last time I went to the library in search of a new chapter book for my older one, I came across a series of books that I absolutely adored when I was a child. For about three years, between the ages of (I'm guessing, it was a long time ago) eight and eleven, I was obsessed by Willard Price's Adventure novels. It began with either Volcano Adventure or Whale Adventure, the two titles the Apia public library held. I loved them so much, every time my Dad went anywhere on business, he brought back a new one.

Now my six-year-old and I are reading Underwater Adventure and it is a strange experience. I must have read and re-read all these books about 50 times each. I remember reading through the entire series (14 books) several times over. Yet while I remember some things about the book we're reading now, a lot of it feels brand new. I'm also noticing a lot of things about it that I'm sure I failed to notice as a child.

Firstly, characterization. There isn't any. Our heros, 19 year old Hal and his 13 year old brother Roger are just there. They have no really distinct personalities and don't seem to have much of a relationship with each other, despite the dangerous situations they get into. And frankly, I'm not sure a 13 year old would be capable of many of the things Roger seems to do. The only character who gets any real personality is the villain.

The second thing I've noticed is how detailed the descriptions of everything are. From the aqualungs to the fish to the diving bell. Every part of the inner workings of the machinery is detailed, all kinds of scientific detail about the marine life. It's no wonder I know so much trivia about the various subjects covered in these books.

The third thing, is how much my son is enjoying the book, despite the things I now see as failings. It's an exciting story, with heros and villains and shipwrecks and sharks. And I guess sometimes that's enough. I hope so, because we have 13 more of these books to get through.

Are there any childhood favorites you've re-read and found serious flaws in?

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