What dost thou think of this, friend Gurth, ha?

I've mentioned that I have tried in the past to read aloud to my kids. This was way easier when they were little. As they grew older, though, it became harder partly because they got busier and partly because, cool as it is, how many times can you sit through Madeline? I tried more "mature" books, like Rifles for Watie and The Hobbit, but usually after a few chapters something would happen to interrupt us, and somehow we'd never get back to it. Every 10 months or so, I'd give it another try with another book. At one point, I started reading Ivanhoe to Shannon and Ian. I think we got up to chapter six before Shannon pretended she had to go on vacation.

There were a few successes, however. One of them was a hit with both the kids and me. I am speaking, of course, of The Tale of Despereaux.

As I read it to my kids, I kept thinking what a clever book it was, and how I wish I'd had it to read when I was a child. It's one of those perfect combinations of adventure, wit, suspense, and life lessons that make reading one of my favorite things to do. Of course it won a well-deserved Newbery medal. And of course they've made a movie out of it. But from what I've seen of the previews, it's probably going to be one of those cases where the film doesn't measure up. But we shall see.

To share the joy, I've decided to give away a gently read copy of the book.  If you'd like a chance at getting it, leave a comment (or send an e-mail) about a book you read in your youth that helped shape your character in some way or influenced your world view.  Then I'll randomly select a winner.  Have fun!


Shannon said...

I never pretended to go on vacation. If I went, it's because I actually went. I really liked Ivanhoe, I felt smart having it be read to us. Haha...
I'm not going to enter this contest because I have too many books I've already read and this is one, though I really, really liked it, I probably won't read until I have kids old enough to read it, which could be decades if I wait as long as you did to read it to us.
But so the world knows, even though I'm not entering, a book that made an impression on me in my early years was Tuck Everlasting. I thought it was really sad but also really good and I loved it. I also read Where the Red Fern Grows some time around there, and it's one of only a few books that have actually made me cry. I loved it, but it was so, so sad. I still remember how the little boy saved up for so long for those puppies and then when they went to get them he couldn't sleep and listened to the birds singing "whip-poor-will"...and anyway. That book taught me a lot, like how to trap raccoons.
But your title of the post made me laugh. Mostly because it made me think of something funny from Whose Line, and less because it made me think of those pigherds. Anyway...

Tyler! said...

I started racking my brain trying to think of the book that had the most profound influence on me growing up. I've read some great books over the years. I have this dysfunction though, this kind of built in self-destruct button that gets triggered whenever someone asks me what my favorite anything is: Any recollection I had of what my favorite something was just evaporates away. It isn't until much later that the exploded parts of my memory have a chance to condensate and settle again that I can rummage through the pieces for something recognizable and familiar. And so I've been thinking about this.

My first post-explosion response was actually a collection of books called "Choose Your Own Adventure". They didn't have so much a profound influence on me as they did a strong memory attached to them. Those books were lame, but I always got absorbed by them trying to find the best ending in the book and wanting to know how to get their so that I could read THAT storyline and ignore the others. I would spend hours examining the different story lines with all ten fingers used as place holders on all the story's endings. I learns not-too-quickly that the authors of those books didn't believe in happy endings and that every storyline always ended with some sort of morbid catastrophe.

My earliest memory of a book that changed me was a book that my older sister, Melissa, read to me when I was very young called "In a Dark, Dark Room". It scared the bejebers out of me. It was a collection of scary stories that ranged from spine tingling to down-right-sickening. At least, they were in my little mind. I remember becoming so fascinated by the book's ability to make the pit of my stomach drop out and my hands shake that I would seek the book out to re-read it to myself over and over. That was the birth of my appreciation for the horror genre.

Years later another horror collection influenced me yet again. Someone who knew I was a fan of horror (I was a fan of a lot of other genres, too, and I do not know why they always assumed I preferred horror to anything else) gave me a book that was a collection of stories by H.P. Lovecraft. I'd never read H.P. Lovecraft before and it made me sick to my stomach. His themes about knowledge that drives men insane and hereditary guilt were oppressive. I read several stories from the collection including a short story called "The Rats in the Walls" about a man who returns to a castle of his inheritance only to discover a secret underground city where his forebears raised human as cattle. I decided afterward that I wasn't such a fan of the horror genre after all.

Other books that had a profound affect on me over the years; Snickerdoodle, Les Misérables, and Ender's Game.

Tyler! said...

Oh... man, my typos are killing me! Does anyone else ever wish there was an "edit" button on your posts? Ugh.

Jared and Megan said...

if it's allowed, I'm going to enter this contest too, especially since for some reason I can't remember any of the Tale of Desperaux except what I've seen in previews. And that doesn't count.
Anyway, I'm want to enter if it's allowed. I just need to think a little more about which book I want to mention.

Janeite42 said...

Megan - It's allowed. The more the merrier, I always say.