Friday, August 07, 2009
This series, now sadly out of print, was one of my favorites when I was little (7 or 8 or 9). The Golden Name Day, The Crystal Tree, and The Silver House are all sweet Little-House semi-autobiographical type books by Jennie Lindquist (also illustrated by Garth Williams, whom I love) about a girl named Nancy and her Swedish grandparents and cousins (Sigrid, Elsa, and Helga. I love the names Sigrid and Elsa).
A friend of mine mentioned that she was thinking of naming her soon-to-be-born daughter Elsa and that rang a distant bell in my mind-library... "...oh yeah! I used to love a character named Elsa.... what were those books called?"
They are now out of print and wildly expensive when I could find a copy online, so I'm going to keep my eye out for them as I peruse used book stores.
This particular book tells the story of Nancy, who comes to stay with Grandma and Grandpa (late 1800s, I think) when her mother is sick. She of course has a hard time adjusting, but the cousins are jolly and Grandma and Grandpa are about the best grandparents you can imagine, and she gets to stay on a little farm and choose the wallpaper for her bedroom (yellow roses, very important), and most of all, more than anything, Nancy wants a name day like her Swedish cousins have.
Nancy is not Swedish since she is not directly related to Grandma and Grandpa (I don't quite understand that part) but she helps with everyone else's name day parties, and feels worse and worse because she doesn't have one. Over the course of the book (a period of some months), everyone tries to find ways for Nancy to have her own, real name day. Finally, towards the end of the book, some solutions are reached (to the relief of everyone, including the reader).
If you liked the Little House books, then you would definitely enjoy these. My favorite of the three was The Crystal Tree, about a little crystal tree that the girls find hidden in Nancy's new house. They wonder who made it, and there is a small mystery about the little girl who crafted this thing of beauty long ago.
As I re-read this book (the last time I read it must have been at least 25 years ago), I was struck by how much i remembered, and how certain things have stayed with me all these years. I've always wanted to see a little crystal tree as described. I've always wanted to have yellow roses somehow -- a bush, or a quilt -- yellow roses always seemed special to me. There are a number of other examples where, as I read them, I had a flash of recognition. "Oh! That's where I got that!"
This brings home the point again to me that the books we read as children affect our whole lives, and the sort of adults we become. The more I re-read old favorites, the more reconnected to my deeper self I feel. It's really sort of wonderful.
If you happen to have or find a copy of any of these books, please contact me! I would love to buy them!
Posted by Daphne at 8/07/2009