ROBERT SIEGEL, host:
Books that we first read in childhood can forever hold special memories of a time or a place or a feeling. It can make us feel nostalgic and wistful or comforted in times of trouble.
Well, today we continue our Three Books series with some children's books chosen by our commentator, Laura Lorson.
LAURA LORSON: On those all-too-frequent occasions when I've reached my maximum daily requirement of bad news, I find myself reaching for what I think of as comfort books: nothing too challenging, just books I know that I like and are sweet and funny and just make me feel good about the world.
First off, let me heartily endorse "The Enormous Egg" by Oliver Butterworth. It's the story of one Nate Twitchell of Freedom, New Hampshire, who has a completely delightful family. His dad runs the town newspaper in the days before catastrophic media consolidation.
At any rate, the family has chickens, and one hen lays an enormous egg, and the egg hatches a wee dinosaur. And hilarity ensues as the dinosaur becomes predictably less wee, and Nate navigates the uproar as bewildered scientists, ad men and promoters descend upon his family.
I don't want to give away the ending, because I want to you read it or re-read it, but I'll just say that in the end, a trip to Washington, D.C., is called for.
Nate calls the dinosaur Uncle Beasley, and really, this book is a delight, a little glimpse into the future, if you will, predicting how the nation would react to such an event, although I suppose nowadays the Twitchells would just get their own reality show and be done with it.
Second, if you have never read anything written by P.G. Wodehouse, I want you to drop whatever it is you're doing and go get hold of the Jeeves and Wooster books and stories.
I first read these when I was about 11 years old, and though I might not have really gotten all the humor at the time, I thought they were easily the funniest things I'd ever read. Time has not changed my opinion on that.
Like pretty much all of the Jeeves and Wooster stories, the plot is a complicated comedy of errors, misapprehensions and mix-ups leading to an eminently satisfying resolution, which it's my experience, you rarely get in real life.
Finally, I want to make the case here for a wonderful story called "The Twenty-One Balloons." It's by William Pene duBois, and it won the Newbery Award in 1948.
In a nutshell, an ex-professor goes off exploring and returns from his adventure hailed as a great hero. His story involves circumnavigation of the globe, hot-air ballooning and living through the eruption of Krakatoa.
I think I decided to study anthropology because of this book, with its little watercolors of the families Professor Sherman meets on Krakatoa and their remarkable little self-contained society. Plus, it gets pretty thrilling at the end, what with the volcano erupting and all, so fans of action movies will like it, too.
And anyway, there's nothing wrong with reaching back to grab hold of that feeling I always associate with summer reading: safe, secure, comforted in the knowledge that things are all where they're supposed to be and nothing too terrible has happened to me yet.
Reading any of these books takes me back to a moment in time where I'm curled up under a tree reading pages dappled with sun and leaf shade, knowing that a whole other charming and cheerful world is teeming and thriving just beyond the next brightly colored paperback cover.
SIEGEL: Laura Lorson likes to read in the window seat of her house in Perry, Kansas. The three books she recommends are "The Enormous Egg" by Oliver Butterworth, "Right Ho, Jeeves" by P.G. Wodehouse and "The Twenty-One Balloons" by William Pene duBois.
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