I re-read one of my favorite childhood books this week, Blue Willow, by Doris Gates. The first copyright of the book was 1940. During this time period they didn’t always follow through with all the writing rules of today, but they told some really good stories that captivated the hearts of children and made them want to be courageous, brave, and hard-working.
Reading some of your childhood favorites, once more, is a great way to relax, remember childhood pleasures, and relieve stress.
Here are some of the highlights that caught my attention from an adult perspective:
- The setting is based on Janey Larkin’s dad losing his ranch in Texas after the death of her mother, and ending up working as a migrant worker in the San Joaquin Valley in California, picking cotton. The story comes right after the dust bowl era which occurred between 1930-1936.
- Janey Larkin is very small for her age and malnourished. The whole family is thin and have very little to eat.
- Janey is being raised by her step-mom while her dad works in the fields. Even though the step-mom doesn’t talk much with Janey, they seem to love each other, and understand each other.
- The Blue Willow Plate is special because it has been passed down through the family from a great, great, grandmother and once belonged to Janie’s mother. It was the only remaining thing she had to remember her mother by, and it represented better times.
- Other than the Willow Plate, the Bible was very precious to Janey and she was required to read it every day like a school text. Both Janey and her stepmom quoted from the Bible on several occasions. (To have found this in our school library as a child, makes it exceptional to me considering what is in school libraries of today.)
- There will always be someone in your life to cause you grief. Enter Bounce Reyburn, who lies and steals from Janey’s father as they barely survive.
- When Janey begins school at Camp Miller (a school set up specifically for itinerant farmer’s children) she is captivated by her sweet teacher, Miss Peterson, who will later help Janey and her family during a tough time of sickness. (Very true to life as God places special people in all of our lives to help us at various times.)
- Janey loves books, and escapes through reading to magical places. (My mom still does this today. I was doing it somewhat as I re-read this book.)
- Janey becomes immersed in the story of King Arthur and Lady Guinevere and wishes to live in the olden times with castles and brave knights in shining armor. Janey’s dad shares some amazing wisdom with her in these words, “Some day, Janey, perhaps when you’re grown up, you’ll realize that every day you’ve been living these last five years has been an adventure. You know, an adventure is just something that comes along that’s unexpected and you don’t know for sure how it will turn out. Sometimes there may be danger mixed up in it. And it doesn’t matter whether it happened a thousand years ago or right this minute. It’s still an adventure. Every day that comes along is an adventure to us, and may be dangerous because we don’t know for sure what it’s going to bring. Perhaps I’m wrong, but I’ve got a hunch that it takes just about as much courage to live like that without losing your grip on things as ever it took to buckle on armor and go out to fight some fellow who had a grudge against you.” (see pp. 97-98)
- After Janey’s stepmom almost dies with pneumonia, and all hope and money are running out, life takes a turn for Janey and her family. As things are worked out between her father and kind Mr. Anderson who owns the land they have been living and working on, Janey shows a thought that is very foreign and hard to accept by girls and women of today… “Mr. Larkin (Janey’s dad) lifted his head and looked at Mr. Anderson in a dazed way. The offer was repeated. Slowly, awkwardly, Mr. Larkin got to his feet and put out his hand. He didn’t say a word, and Janey was terrified for fear Mr. Anderson would think Dad didn’t want the job. She wanted to scream to her father to say something, quick, before it should be too late. But Janey had learned during her strange life that there are times when only men are important, when even grown-up women don’t matter at all. And certainly not little girls. This was distinctly one of those times. So she held her tongue and waited in an agony of suspense for whatever might happen.” (p. 154)
Some things I learned as I read.
- Each of our lives are an adventure.
- Every day we live is an adventure.
- We can never know what tomorrow may hold. There may be bad or good people that enter into our lives, and we need to be watchful for both.
- It takes courage to live each day—each moment.
- It is good to keep reminders of special things that bring us joy and helps us think of better times.
- It is good to read our Bible every day.
- It is good to immerse ourselves in good books.
- God sends people into our lives at just the right time to be a blessing to us and us to them.
- As women, whether we like it or not, there is a special relationship between God and men. Although God loves us women and shows up for us when we need Him (think Hagar, Leah, Rachel, Rahab, Hannah, Naomi, Ruth, Abigail, Mary, Mary Magdalene, Lydia…and many more) the men are more likely to be the leaders in the Bible and in life. There were a few women leaders like Miriam, Deborah, and several prophetesses in the Bible, but they were few and far between. And sometimes, as women, we just need to be quiet as the men lead, while we study on the courage it takes to do that… to keep our mouths shut and not say a word.
- Every day, we should take our time as we enjoy the small things and each other.
I hope you will find a book that you loved as a child and experience the thrill of re-living what made that book special to you as you take the time to read it once more. I highly recommend the Blue Willow book, if you don’t have a special childhood book.
Do you have any special childhood books you would like to share with us? Please comment below.