Many of my earliest and most pleasurable memories are of being read to, usually by my mother. I was fascinated, for example, by Edward Lear’s poem, The Owl and the Pussycat, at around age 4. I just loved the notion of it: an owl and a pussycat who loved each other, sailing around the world. Jan Brett had not published her now classic version. I believe that the William Pene Du Bois version was read to me. For a better look at this version, see this link to Life Magazine, Jan 5, 1962, pages 40-45.
I also remember The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter, at about age 3, and how truly frightened I was of mean old Mr. McGregor and his rake. I took it very seriously. Even so, I loved it. After all, Peter managed to escape, if barely. One thing worth pointing out, though, was (is) the powerful gender message of the book, which was not lost on me at all, even at age 3. The little girls, Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cottontail, always behaved, never lost their beautiful pink coats, and always ate a delicious supper. Peter rarely behaved, had many adventures (as his father before him had), lost his clothes and shoes frequently, and went to bed sick with his mother giving him medicine and (daftly?) wondering where his clothes were.
The Owl and the Pussycat, August 25, 2011. Poem by Edward Lear. Illustration by William Pene Du Bois.
The Tale of Peter Rabbit, August 25, 2011. Illustration by Beatrix Potter.