Thursday, February 9, 2012
My mom’s one of the people I blame for my love of books and writing. She was a school teacher, and some of my earliest memories are of sitting in her classes during the afternoons when I was done with preschool. My favourite class was English, and I’d listen to her teach while I drew on bits of paper. I didn’t think much of it at the time, but often when my mom asked the kids a question I was the only one to put up my hand with a correct answer. I was five at the time. She was teaching Grade 6s.
So, yeah, it would appear that my knack with language is largely thanks to my mom, and we still spend hours chatting about the written word. She’s also the only member of my family with whom I can discuss my writing. Apart from my dad, who also used to be a school teacher, the rest are pretty much functionally illiterate.
When I was little, my parents would often take me on long hikes in the mountains, and one of the ways in which my mom distracted me from the distance or my sore feet was to tell me stories. One such story was about a young boy, about my own age then (six), who got lost in the woods and was looked after by a badger. She remembers wishing she could find that book again but had, sadly, forgotten the title and the author’s name. One of the children at the school where she was teaching loved that story so much he stole the book before she could finish reading it to the class.
My mom and I had also gone to the library in a bid to find the story, and asked the librarian if she could help. She had no idea what the book’s title was and that’s where the matter rested for almost twenty years. Today I received a phonecall from my mom and we spoke about that book. I was at my desk so I suggested we run a few searches online.
My mom gave me what she thought was the author’s surname, and I had some fun with Google and Amazon. Nothing came up. Then I typed in “badgers in fiction”. Lo and behold, www.whatsthatbook.com came up as one of the search results. It’s an online community dedicated to helping people find their long-lost books and the Google search had dug up, “children’s/young adult novel about a young boy who falls into a badger hole, is injured and subsequently cared for by the mother badger inhabiting the hole.”
When I read that blurb out to my mom she yelled with joy. We’d found our book: Incident at Hawk’s Hill by Allan W Eckert. Because I love supporting independent bookshops, I mailed the Book Lounge right away and they’ve put it on order. It’ll be here in two weeks.
This is one of those niggling little life stories that has a happy ending. My mother had remembered the book with such fondness and it really made my day to help her rediscover it. I can’t wait to read the whole story myself. I’d love to know what some of your book mysteries are.