The One That Started It All – Cidney Swanson

The One That Started It All


How many of you own a copy of Maurice Sendak’s WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE? I own three. The one my parents got for me, the one I bought for my kids, and the one I bought (in an uninformed moment) for my children, in a French translation.

WILD THINGS was the very first book I ever “bought.” That is, I saw the title in the Scholastic SeeSaw flyer and chose it, out of all other books, as the One I Had To Have. I can look at the back cover and see that my parents handed over 95 cents for this acquisition–a lot of money when I was in first grade. It would’ve paid for milk in the cafeteria for a solid month.
But my parents said yes.

I don’t remember the moment when my teacher handed the brand new book to me, but I remember the feeling of having a shiny new book all my own delivered to my desk. There was no better feeling. Even Christmas morning paled compared to the day (every month or so) when the Scholastic books arrived at school.

I found my oldest copy yesterday and immediately sank down on the floor to read it. I thought I would only glance at the first page or two, but I was swallowed right in to the story, into its magic, into the marvelous and terrifying pictures. I recalled long hours spent staring at tiny details in the beautifully rendered illustrations. I recalled the the mortification of being sent to one’s room and the shattering prospect of No Supper. And the wild rumpus! Oh, the wonder of it all!

Decades have passed and I’m so very, very grateful that my parents kept this little paperback safe through the years. Did they perhaps remember how it held my attention? I’ll have to ask sometime. They brought it back to me with a box of Oz books, Nancy Drew mysteries, and Star Trek paperbacks. As much as I was happy to be reunited with all of these old favorites, the one that made my face light up like a menorah was Sendak’s–the one that started my personal library oh-so-long-ago.

Do you remember your first book? Do you have it still? (Or did you, like me, repurchase a copy?) I’d love to hear your story!

7 Replies to “The One That Started It All”

  1. I don't remember my first book, but I know I do have Where the Wild Things Are – my Scholastic Book order copy. I LOVED those book orders, would pore over them every time they came out. I was very blessed to have had parents who could and would buy me lots of books. My teacher would pass out everyone else's books from the order, and then send the box home with me because I would order 5-6 (or sometimes more) books each time. I still have many of those old books, but some didn't survive mine and then my children's usage. They were all well-loved. Favorite stories from my childhoood: Dr. Seuss and Bennet Cerf books, The Secret Garden, and Light a Single Candle are the first 3 to come to mind.

  2. Marianne, how truly serendipitous! And wonderful! I was really shocked and happy to get my old copy back…

    Aspenjules, weren't those orders from Scholastic seriously the best thing ever? It's a good thing we weren't in the same class. I would have been very covetous (I think that's the right word) of your 5 or more. But I've more than made up for it in the years since. My library is eating my house, I swear.

  3. Ahh! So much nostalgia!!! I remember when we used to do Scholastic book orders. Man, I miss those days…and those books… 🙂

    I don't recall my very first book, but it was probably one of several beloved favorites my parents used to read aloud to me.

    I also remember my first grade teacher bringing in several old books of hers to give away to the class. She would hold up a book and we would raise our hands if we wanted it, auction-style. 🙂 I realize now just how seriously awesome she was.

  4. Laura, I know. Holding and re-reading that copy of my first book was such the nostalgia-fest! I'm so grateful for those amazing book orders. Your teacher sounds amazing. I love hearing stories like that. 😀

  5. Thanks very much, Bearded Scribe. I have to say when I read of his death shortly after I posted, I was very sad. And pretty much got chills up and down my spine, too, as I'd been meaning to write the tribute forever, but for some reason picked that week. Thanks for stopping by!

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