Free-time reading from childhood

This is one of my wrap-up posts for books that I’ve noted down ratings for, but that I rated before I started writing proper reviews. These books were free-time reading from the last years of Primary School.

HekseneHeksene by Roald Dahl
Publisher: Jonathan Cape
Released: January 1, 1983
Pages: 188
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This is not a fairy-tale. This is about real witches. Real witches don't ride around on broomsticks. They don't even wear black cloaks and hats. They are vile, cunning, detestable creatures who disguise themselves as nice, ordinary ladies. So how can you tell when you're face to face with one? Well, if you don't know yet you'd better find out quickly-because there's nothing a witch loathes quite as much as children and she'll wield all kinds of terrifying powers to get rid of them.

I think I read Heksene, or Witches, shortly after seeing the film in school. I’m pretty sure I found it in the school library and read it there, and it’s one of the books from that era I remember enjoying the most.

Charlie og sjokoladefabrikkenCharlie og sjokoladefabrikken by Roald Dahl
Series: Charlie Bucket #1
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
Released: January 17, 1964
Pages: 123
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Willy Wonka's famous chocolate factory is opening at last!
But only five lucky children will be allowed inside. And the winners are: Augustus Gloop, an enormously fat boy whose hobby is eating; Veruca Salt, a spoiled-rotten brat whose parents are wrapped around her little finger; Violet Beauregarde, a dim-witted gum-chewer with the fastest jaws around; Mike Teavee, a toy pistol-toting gangster-in-training who is obsessed with television; and Charlie Bucket, Our Hero, a boy who is honest and kind, brave and true, and good and ready for the wildest time of his life!

I think I read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory at the cottage during summer. I watched the film a lot as a child, so I think I found the differences with the book to be quite interesting. I also remember quite liking this one.

Gulliver's TravelsGulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift
Publisher: Benjamin Motte
Released: October 28, 1726
Pages: 306
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'I felt something alive moving on my left leg ... when bending my Eyes downwards as much as I could. I perceived it to be a human Creature not six inches high'

Shipwrecked and cast adrift, Lemuel Gulliver wakes to find himself on Lilliput, an island inhabited by little people, whose height makes their quarrels over fashion and fame seem ridiculous. His subsequent encounters - with the crude giants of Brobdingnag, the philosophical Houyhnhnms and the brutish Yahoos - give Gulliver new, bitter insights into human behaviour. Swift's savage satire view mankind in a distorted hall of mirrors as a diminished, magnified and finally bestial species, presenting us with an uncompromising reflection of ourselves.
This text, based on the first edition of 1726, reproduces all its original illustrations and includes an introduction by Robert Demaria, Jr, which discusses the ways Gulliver's Travels has been interpreted since its first publication.

I think Gulliver’s Travels was a Christmas present, and that I brought it along and read it on a holiday. I can’t remember much of what I thought of it, except that I remember the illustration on the front page with the giant man often catching up attention when I spotted it on the bookshelf.

Oliver TwistOliver Twist by Charles Dickens
Publisher: Richard Bentley
Released: April 1, 1939
Pages: 367
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Oliver is an orphan living on the dangerous London streets with no one but himself to rely on. Fleeing from poverty and hardship, he falls in with a criminal street gang who will not let him go, however hard he tries to escape.
One of the most swiftly moving and unified of Charles Dickens’s great novels, Oliver Twist is also famous for its re-creation–through the splendidly realized figures of Fagin, Nancy, the Artful Dodger, and the evil Bill Sikes–of the vast London underworld of pickpockets, thieves, prostitutes, and abandoned children. Victorian critics took Dickens to task for rendering this world in such a compelling, believable way, but readers over the last 150 years have delivered an alternative judgment by making this story of the orphaned Oliver Twist one of its author’s most loved works.

I think Oliver Twist was another Christmas present, also being brought along for some travel. I did really enjoy Oliver Twist, though in the following years I kept confusing it with Tom Sawyer (which I must have read at some point earlier, but it’s not on my rated-books list).

Treasure IslandTreasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
Publisher: Cassell & Co
Released: November 14, 1883
Pages: 311
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"For sheer storytelling delight and pure adventure, Treasure Island has never been surpassed. From the moment young Jim Hawkins first encounters the sinister Blind Pew at the Admiral Benbow Inn until the climactic battle for treasure on a tropic isle, the novel creates scenes and characters that have fired the imaginations of generations of readers. Written by a superb prose stylist, a master of both action and atmosphere, the story centers upon the conflict between good and evil - but in this case a particularly engaging form of evil. It is the villainy of that most ambiguous rogue Long John Silver that sets the tempo of this tale of treachery, greed, and daring. Designed to forever kindle a dream of high romance and distant horizons, Treasure Island is, in the words of G. K. Chesterton, 'the realization of an ideal, that which is promised in its provocative and beckoning map; a vision not only of white skeletons but also green palm trees and sapphire seas.' G. S. Fraser terms it 'an utterly original book' and goes on to write: 'There will always be a place for stories like Treasure Island that can keep boys and old men happy.'

Treasure Island was another Christmas present, and I remember getting surprisingly far into it before having the realisation that “Oh, wait. This is the book of that Muppets film!” I can’t remember much other than that, but I gave it 4 stars, so I must have liked it, at least a bit!

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. HydeThe Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
Publisher: Longmans Green & Co.
Released: January 5, 1886
Pages: 144
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Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde is the original title of a novella written by the famous Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson that was first published in 1886. The work is commonly known today as The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, or simply Jekyll & Hyde. It is about a London lawyer named John Gabriel Utterson who investigates strange occurrences between his old friend, Dr Henry Jekyll, and the evil Edward Hyde.

And from a book I must have liked a bit, to a book I remembering liking quite a lot. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde felt very grown up when I read it, and I appreciated the serious drama of it.

The Adventures of Huckleberry FinnThe Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
Series: The Adventures of Tom and Huck #2
Publisher: Chatto & Windus
Released: December 10, 1884
Pages: 327
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A nineteenth-century boy from a Mississippi River town recounts his adventures as he travels down the river with a runaway slave, encountering a family involved in a feud, two scoundrels pretending to be royalty, and Tom Sawyer's aunt who mistakes him for Tom.

And finally, Huckleberry Finn. I remember reading this at the cottage. This book really did make me feel a sense of adventure, and I think I was still young enough when reading it that Huckleberry Finn felt somewhat relatable as well.

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