The most ludicrous debate seems to me that between various contemporary readers of Tootle, the train that was taught to stay on the tracks . Tootle’s story is not the same as The Little Engine that Could -but it brings up why on earth did they have to dispense with the original art? I would’ve thought that old children’s books are an important means of transmitting culture, and that includes the art.
But actually I only read about Tootle and the Little Engine that Could in school. At home, my early reading was strictly 19th and early 20th centuries. My favorite (and I think my only) books were:
I still the Kipling volume my father gave me, a facsimile edition of the original; the Halliburton set he’d located with great difficulty was shredded by a puppy; I only managed to buy another set after my father had passed away.
And I was nuts over Ladybird books, reading them over and over so that many of the illustrations and stories are still vivid in my mind. I can even remember exactly which titles I had (the editions prior the uglier blue-bordered ones): William the Conqueror, Sir Walter Raleigh, The Story of Nelson, Julius Caesar and Roman Britain, Charles II, Oliver Cromwell, Warwick the Kingmaker, King John and the Magna Carta, Great Civilizations -Egypt, Samuel Pepys,
The other books I had were the Philacor series of books for children with Philippine culture, myths and legends, and history topics:
The stirrings of nationalism in the early 1970s opened an awareness of the importance of books and stories that played up Filipino values and traditions. In 1974, the Philippine Appliance Corporation (Philacor) sponsored the publication of a book series called The Young People’s Library. Its list of titles includes: Filipino Rites and Rituals, Filipino Myths and Legends, Games Filipino Children Play, Profiles in Achievement, Pagdiriwang I, Pagdiriwang II, and Filipino Arts and Crafts. The books were lavishly illustrated, printed in full color and hardbound.
I’ve never seen them since but they were beautiful books. Also, there were Nick Joaquin’s Pop Stories for Groovy Kids. Except the illustrations of one of his stories gave me nightmares.
In retrospect, oddly enough, my father had nothing against comic books. Tintin and Asterix were fine, but I couldn’t buy American comic books because they were National Bookstore reprints and he objected to that for some reason (or maybe to disguise a bias against American super heroes).
I suspect I was also the last child in the 20th century to thoroughly enjoy the Biggles novels, which, apparently, have been purged from many modern libraries! Biggles and comic books were my main reading from about fourth grade on (with an equally archaic detour to -now it seems, 1954-1971 incarnation of- the Tom Swift stories and a little Hardy Boys -in their 1927-79 incarnation).
In my early teens I abandoned history for science fiction, beginning with (I didn’t realize it at the time) an extremely rare set of the Mars novels of Edgar Rice Burroughs. The transition was made easy from a really beautiful graphic novel of Tarzan of the Apes (see this interesting essay on the story and book) illustrated by Burne Hogarth. Apparently the graphic novel’s still available: “Tarzan of the apes” (Burne Hogarth).
It was only after going through an Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke obsession in 7th grade(along with a parallel obsession with Agatha Christie mysteries, Hercule Poirot novels in particular) that I moved on to Philip Jose Farmer’s Riverworld series and Piers Anthony’s Incarnations of Immortality which got me back on a historically-minded track with the Horatio Hornblower books in 8th grade with Cristie being dropped as my parallel set of reading in favor of P.G. Wodehouse. My mind turned morbid in the 9th grade, with a focus on.Stephen King books, and then Tolkien in the year after that; after which non-fiction came to dominate my reading.