Steve Martaindale

Author of the JP Weiscarver Mystery Series

A-B-C

tik-tok-of-ozWhen the topic came up about learning to read and first book memories, I found myself with little to talk about.

One is supposed to have fond recollections of cuddling in a parent’s lap or being read to sleep, but there was no learning to read at home for me. Well, I don’t remember anything about it, but I do recall working through the alphabet and learning to read in first grade. (Note that there was no kindergarten when and where I grew up.)

So, no, I don’t recall having books read to me. I do remember a few Little Golden Books being around, but I’m not sure when that was. It’s possible my brother and I were read to regularly and I don’t remember, but it’s just as likely the books I picture were for my much younger sister.

Whatever the case, I took to reading rather easily in the classroom of Mrs. Follis, but all I remember was Dick, Jane and Sally.

The first real book I can remember reading was “Tik-Tok of Oz” by L. Frank Baum. In the second grade at the time, I’m pretty sure I had not yet seen “The Wizard of Oz” because we watched little television, if we even had one. Therefore, it was much later that I realized the two were connected stories.

Additionally, I really doubt there was much understanding of the book going on. I was more caught up with the challenge of reading this big book from cover to cover than I was about understanding it. No, I do not remember a single thing about it.

By the third grade, I discovered the biography section in the school library. I distinctly remember reading about Israel Putnam, a hero of the American Revolution, and automobile executive Walter Chrysler.

Of course, I’m now writing mystery books, but even those were discovered late in life.

Some 20 years ago, my wife introduced me to Lilian Jackson Braun’s series of “The Cat Who …” stories. I’ve read quite a few of them and they had a direct effect on my series.

Her style and mine are considerably different, but I took from her the idea of writing my stories around a journalist (she, too, had worked in newspapers), and of establishing them in a fictional town in a not-too-specific location (hers were generally set in and around Pickax, located “400 miles north of everywhere,” while mine are in Oldport, somewhere on the Gulf of Mexico).

My appreciation for her inspiration led me to name a city park in Oldport after Braun’s central character, James Qwilleran.

That’s mine; what are your earliest reading memories?

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2 responses to “A-B-C

  1. Judy Bochner September 15, 2016 at 6:58 am

    We got books from our much older cousins. One was a book of stories based on buttons in a grandmother’s button box.
    We went to the library frequently. My mother was annoyed when she discovered that I had read all my books in the car on the way home.
    We had a lot of the Oz books too. Later on, I read EA Poe stories in a book with terrifying wood cut pictures.

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