I was reading Connie's interesting post ( you can read it here: http://farsideoffifty.blogspot.com/) this morning about her husband's childhood traveling the carnival circuit and was reminded of a book I hadn't thought about for many years. It was one of my dad's books I found on my grandma's bookshelf, Toby Tyler, or Ten Weeks With the Circus.
My dad's copy looked like this. It was written in 1881 and his copy was probably from the 1930s.
I loved this book! I must have read it when I was about seven and in my memory it was a great adventure about a boy who left his adopted family to run away from home and take off with the circus when it came to his town.
It, along with National Geographic Magazine my parents subscribed to, sparked my first memory of longing for travel, to see what was out there in the world. The train to Chicago used to go by my house in the night and as I was falling asleep I would create dreamy fantasies of myself on the train and all the places in the world I wanted to see.
And here was Toby Tyler, a mere kid, doing it!
I had a surprise when I looked the book up. The book that first fueled my wanderlust obsession was described like this:
"Toby Tyler is a "bad boy" novel, meant to teach a lesson, what happens to boys who do bad things."
What? It did pretty much just the opposite for 7-year old me!
Apparently I'm in good company. Carl Sandburg, one of my favorite American poets, claimed it as his favorite adventure book as a boy, "even better than The Adventures of Tom Sawyer or Huckleberry Finn." And so did some other American authors.
And it just goes to show you, children's authors write a book for one reason but that's not necessarily the message young readers remember for the next 60 years!
Anyone else have fond memories of Toby Tyler and his monkey, Mr Stubbs?