When I was growing up, bedtime meant story time, and I am so grateful to this early exposure to books and stories. The hands down favourite in our household was Caroline and Her Friends, a collection of several illustrated Caroline stories by Pierre Probst. It was filled with captivating stories of Caroline and her animal friends. When they were in Germany, they wore liederhosen. In the Alps, the blew alpenhorns. It was a large book (14 x 10 inches) of sturdy paper and colourful, detailed illustrations so vivid and alive that I wanted to jump right into its pages.
The well-worn book survives in a delicate, tattered state, stored in the basement of my parents' home. Its blue cloth binding is coming away from the spine. Some pages are torn or missing. It is out of print. Used copies of this now rare collection, published in the UK, show up on ebay from time to rare time, fetching auction prices up to $1000. Its American counterpart, The Golden Treasuring of Caroline and Her Friends, also appear irregularly on ebay, with the highest bid ranging between $300 and $1000, depending on the book's condition. The stories were orginally published published in France, in French, in the 1950s. A French collected edition was released as recently as 1997, under the title Les Amis de Caroline.
I recommend that anyone who wants their children to fall in love with books get their hands on anything in the original Caroline series, whether in French or in English. Most book sellers sell individual stories for modest prices, but they do not compare to the anthologies. If you can find a collection, snap it up immediately. They will introduce you and your children to the magical journeys of Caroline and her friends, and are sure to recruit them as readers.
For more scribbles about bedtime stories, check out this week's Sunday Scribblings.