For years and years there has been a childhood book, an image that I could not get out of my head, but I could not remember what book the lasting image was from.
Recently, when I decided to reread Munro Leaf’s The Story of Ferdinand, that lead me to take a trip down memory lane and I did a search for children’s books from different time periods to see if I recognized other books that I may have forgotten. I saw a book that looked somewhat familiar: Noodle. I searched the library catalog and checked it out. Ah…another book by Munro Leaf. When I first saw the cover, I did not realize he also wrote this book. I set the book on the dining room table and it sat there for days before I opened it. I looked at the cover from time to time, having a vague recollection of having this book as a child, yet I had no specific memory of what was between the covers of this book.
One morning, the morning after my last blog, I opened the book and did recognize the dog fairy on the inside cover page. I began reading. The illustrations were coming back to me and I realized I did have this book as a child. I kept turning the pages, enjoying the illustrations and the story, and then—there it was—that long lost image from childhood. I had no idea that I would ever find the book that housed the image that seared itself into my memory.
It felt that it was right under my nose all of these years, if only I had dug a little deeper. The illustration that stayed with me was of Noodle when he approached Miss Ostrich, head in the sand, to ask her a question. Why of all images did this one remain? Not the dog fairy, or the wish bone, but Miss Ostrich hiding her head in the sand with Noodle beside her ready to ask his question. I became quite happy in those few moments to be connected to an image that I knew was out of a childhood book that meant something to me, yet I had no recollection of which book it came from and I accepted that. I didn’t try to search for it any longer, yet it has always been there in the background.
I love the story of Noodle, the little dog who learns to accept himself—just as he is.
I love the musty smell of this old library book, the sound of the creak of plastic as I open the book, and the thickness of the pages, so real in my hands. The book smells of childhood.
Over the years, I have searched out a few childhood books that I remembered and found again. In the case of Noodle, I wasn’t looking for that specific image that I never forgot; yet here I was—I walked right into the right book at the right time.
Noodle (1937) Story by Munro Leaf and Pictures by Ludwig Bemelmans.