17 August 2011

Summer days, drifting away...

It has come to our attention that while we are enduring the final weeks of the winter months, a goodly number of people on the other side of the world are celebrating summer - and the joys of the long summer holiday.

Thoughts of summer are particularly appealing at the end of August in the antipodes. This Onion turned twelve in the summer between primary school and secondary school. What a wonderful time of freedom it was. A few weeks at the beach where all the kids in the caravan park were allowed to disappear together for hours at a time, swimming, rockpooling, playing in the tea-tree thickets of the butterfly wood, expeditioning to the top shop for ice-creams, sneaking off to the back beach with the older kids when we thought no one would ever find out...

Then the end of January brought my twelfth birthday and the last long, lazy summer days - spent at the pool, or sunbaking on top of the old train engine that had found it's final resting place in the local public playground, or riding bikes at speed down the pool hill, or long-into-the-evening barbeques on the shores of the lake out of town with a companionable clutch of local families.

That summer had a special quality to it. A sense of ending, and a sense of beginning. Those primary school days were done. It would be six years until I was one of the 'big kids' in a school ground again.* Who knew what the move to secondary school would mean? All I knew for sure was that I had a longer ride on the bus, and that, like my brother, my house colours would be yellow. Not much to go on really.

The final week before school started was a frenzy of getting fitted for a new uniform, trying to wear-in stiff new school shoes after six weeks of summer feet, buying new school supplies and carefully covering in collage and contact the brand new folders, putting the brand new pens and pencils and sharpeners and erasers in a brand new pencil case, peppering my brother with questions about what high school was like.**

But one of the best things about that summer was what a lot of time there was for reading whatever I liked: on the beach with sand between my toes (and between every page of the book), in the cool shade of the tea-tree forest, on the well-watered green lawns by the pool, on layers of towels to protect me from the scalding heat of the sun-baked metal on the top of the train engine, in the fading light by the lake, speed-reading to finish a book before the sun finally set. And then the following day, scouring the bookcases for the next book to read.

So in the spirit of the summer of turning twelve, here are twelve books, in no particular order, that would have been on my reading list had I turned twelve in a much more recent summer:

1: Only Ever Always by Penni Russon
2: Sunny Side Up by Marion Roberts
3: Wolf Brother by Michelle Paver
4: Cicada Summer by Kate Constable
5: Museum of Thieves by Lian Tanner
6: When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
7: Diamond Spirit by Karen Wood
8: Once by Morris Gleitzman
9: All the titles in the Girlfriend Fiction series
10: Emily of New Moon by LM Montgomery***
11: Playing Beatie Bow by Ruth Park***
12: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

* Clearly this was wishful thinking. As the future unfolded it became clear that height was not my strong suit, and I was, in fact, never to be a big kid in a school ground again. Sigh.
** Clearly another case of wishful thinking. Everybody knows Year 9 boys speak a different language to the rest of the species. And barely speak at all to their younger sisters.
*** Clearly these three titles have been available for many summers now, but if we were twelve now and we hadn't read them, they should definitely be on the list. (Also, let it be known that the Onion helping out with this list suggests Emily not Anne in deference to her colleague's well-documented anti-Anne stance.)

1 comment:

thaliak said...

Beautiful post! (JW?)
Cusp of adolescence is right up there with cusp of adulthood in terms of pivotal (and fascinating) times of life.
I also have a a list if retrospective favourite childhood books. Sometimes wish I could pop back in time just long enough experience them as a twelve-year-old.