When I was growing up I read a lot. Living in Guernsey, I’d visit my Grandparents ancient granite farm house, climb the steep spiral staircase, and explore the dusty spare bedroom that acted as a library.
One of my earliest memories is being given a trunk full of books that my father had read when he was growing up. Biggles, Blyton, Jennings amongst others, but it was Willard Price that has stuck with me. (okay, perhaps Biggles too, given the name of this blog.)
Willard Price was an explorer for the Natural Geographic, and he penned a collection of books called the Adventure Series. It documented two brothers, Hal and Roger Hunt, as they travelled around the world capturing rare, exotic and dangerous animals.
I look at youths today and I see an obsession with certain series of books, and I had that very same with the Adventure series!
When I had finished reading a book, I’d re-read it again, and this time stop at every foreign city, exotic animal and peculiar naturalist phrase, and research it in an encyclopaedia.
I would love to know what books are being written this decade that have a similar aim. I’ve read and cherished the works of Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and other – old and new – fantasy authors, but none had the same impact of wonder that Willard did.
I learnt about ship rigging, survival techniques, knot tying, and all manner of curiosities about our little planet. The books were clearly fantastical but they felt grounded, close to reality. These weren’t stories that made you wish you lived in another world, they were stories that made you excited to live in our world.
And this quote from Willard makes my eyes well with delight:
My aim in writing the Adventure series for young people was to lead them to read by making reading exciting and full of adventure. At the same time I want to inspire an interest in wild animals and their behavior. Judging from the letters I have received from boys and girls around the world, I believe I have helped open to them the worlds of books and natural history
I cannot begin to express how important these books were at filling me with wonder and curiosity at the world. Thanks Willard Price. I hope with all my might that perhaps this note might inspire someone to give the gift of these books.