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Monday, 4 July 2016

Question of the Month: My First Literary Love


It's time for Question of the Month, where a small community of bloggers answers a thought-provoking question provided by a member of the group. This month's question is

"What was the first book (or book series) you fell in love with?"

It can be really hard to think back right to the very first thing that started our love of books. My mum tells me she used to read to me as a toddler and that I loved it. I remember reading a lot of Dr Seuss books and still have a ton of them in my cupboard. I recently unearthed a copy of Go Dog Go that was in such bad shape that the pictures on the front and back covers had been torn off and what was left looked like what you'd get when you try and peel a barcode off a new product and can't quite make it.


The story was in-tact though, and I found a lot of joy in re-reading it. But I'd say the first book I can remember finding, not being able to put down and subsequently sought out the entire series from start to finish was K.A. Applegate's Animorphs series.

It started when I was about nine years old and was watching the Animorphs TV series religiously. I had no idea it had started as a book series which even today is normal for me. Once I was given two of the books for my birthday, it began. I read them, loved them and made the decision to find all the books in order so I could read them as a complete story arc. I loved seeing each new cover, which showed one of the six main characters morphing into an animal. It would be a different person each issue, indicating who the narrator would be for that episode. The characters would take turns relating the story in a regular pattern starting with the leader Jake.

 

For those who don't know, Animorphs centers around five teenagers who are thrown into a situation where they're the only hop for mankind. A breed of parasitic alien named Yeerks had begun a silent, stealth takeover of Earth. Yeerks were basically slugs, with no sense of sight, smell, hearing etc. So they needed to crawl in through the ear canal of another organism and attach themselves to its brain in order to experience those senses. Once attached, the Yeerk controled the host completely. Five of the aforementioned teenagers (the sixth came soon after) happened across a crashed spaceship belonging to a different breed of alien (called the Andalites) who were sworn to stop the spread of these parasitic Yeerks. There was a lone Andalite in there who was hurt by the crash and dying. With his last act, he explained the situation to the kids and gives them a piece of alien technology which became their primary weapon in fighting the Yeerks - the ability to acquire the DNA of other living organisms and morph into them.


Over the course of 54 books (that sounds horribly daunting, but each book was quite small; kind of like the Hitchhiker's Guide books), their story evolved in many ways. Their guerrilla missions, which started as abysmal failures, slowly became more and more successful. They were occasionally sucked into strange new places, from as close to home as Antarctica or the Amazon to as far away as whole other planets. They gained new allies in many species that weren't human. The catalogue of animals they could morph into expanded from just Earth animals to sentient alien beings. They discovered the reason the Yeerks had chosen to invade Earth in the first place and - probably my favourite development - they discovered what the Yeerk's real relationship was with their sworn enemy the Andalites.

The story went that before they were enemies, the Yeerks were confined to their own planet, helpless and pathetic, just as slugs are on our own planet. There was an Andalite Prince named Prince Seerow who felt sorry for the poor helpless parasites. So he decided to help them by giving them Andalite technology, such as the ability of space travel. In an amazing lack of foresight, the Yeerks said "Well thanks, now I guess we have the means to take over the galaxy." and began their conquest. Prince Seerow was was put to death and the Andelites passed a new law vowing never again to give Andalite technology to other races. They called this law the Law of Seerow's Kindness. And what it also meant was that the Andalite that had crashed into Earth and given our protagonists the power to morph (himself a prince) had broken his people's highest law to do so. He committed a form of treason with his final act so he could give humans a tiny fighting chance.

Recounting all this makes me want to read it again. I used to go to the library (back when kids still did that) once every couple of weeks to borrow the next three books in the series and return the ones I'd read. I wonder what they'd think if I turned up now as a 24 year old and started doing it again?

If you'd like to join the bloghop, enter with the list below. The picture used at the top of this page was created by hopper Olga Godim and I encourage everyone to use it if they'd like. The one I made was a screenshot from an episode of The Simpsons, so I'm not entirely sure of its legality :P



30 comments:

  1. What an intriguing concept.
    For me I think it was Rudyard Kipling's Just So Stories. Some of them were read to us so often that even now, more than fifty years later my brothers and I can still recite great slabs of them from memory.

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    1. What were the Just So sprites about? I remember as a child reading Andy Griffith's Just series, which I suspect is very, very different.

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    2. Very different. The Just So Stories covered things like how the camel got his hump, the leopard its spots, a crab which played with the tides,...

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  2. Still got a bunch of Dr. Seuss ones around here too, bet that wasn't hard to guess. I remember animorphs. Forgot all about them.

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    1. Yeah I suspected you were influenced by Dr Seuss.

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  3. I love the new badge; it's beautiful. Those books sound like fun. They remind me a little of a series my older daughter got into for a while called the Secrets of Droon. She never finished them all though.

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    1. That's a shame. Once I start a series it's auite hard for me to stop, no matter how bad it gets.

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  4. I loved Dr. Seuss. I want to start collecting all of his books to save for the future. kids. lol I read a couple of those Animorphs books.

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    1. I'd be interested to know how it looks through an adult perspective.

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  5. I've never heard of this series or the TV show, not that that's anything new! Dr. Seuss was a definite favorite of mine, as was Kay Thompson's Eloise. But you'll have to visit my blog to find out which book most influenced me. :)

    I'll be showing off the new badge next month.

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    1. I haven't heard of Kay Thompson's Eloise, so I'm no better :P

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  6. I never even heard of these but I know I would have been into them when I was a kid. My favourite were the Grimm Fairy Tales. I would read and reread them and still do. I could escape into the fantasy land and thought they were wonderful and the bad guy always got their just desserts and I thought it was just fine how they died.

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    1. The modern equivalent of the Grimm fairy tails is Disney. They created all those stories that everyone knows such as Beauty and the Beast, Snow White etc.

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  7. I can see why those books would inspire a teenage boy. And the covers are so-o-o funky. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. I'm glad you think so. I'd love to know how they were done.

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  8. Never heard of these books I love the Trixe Beldon books as a child

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  9. I vaguely remember the Animorphs show. Would have been cool to read the books when I was a kid. (They came out way past that time.)

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    1. I'm pretty sure the books came first. I remember noticing that the kids on the covers of the books were different from the ones on the TV.

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    2. I'm pretty sure the books came first. I remember noticing that the kids on the covers of the books were different from the ones on the TV.

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  10. I'll have to see if our library has Animorphs. It sounds like a series my oldest son would get into.

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  11. I somewhat remember the Animorphs because they were a little after my youth. Never knew they were based on books. They sound pretty cool.

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  12. I haven't read the Animorph's series but they do sound fascinating and I may just end up reading them, even though I'm over 50 and they're essentially children's books. That doesn't really matter to me since they seem to tell a great story.

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    1. I understand, I've revisited Dr Seuss books in the past and I watch the occasional cartoon from my childhood.

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  13. One of my sons had all those books on his shelf. I know he did a book report on at least one of them.

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  14. Never heard of the Animorphs, but they certainly look pretty cool! Go Dogs Go was one of my son's favorite books.

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