Good Old Archibald

Good Old Archibald by Ethelyn M. Parkinson (1960) For whatever reason, this book was just my favorite when I was a kid, and I used to check out a lot of books at the downtown Sandusky, Ohio library. I have a very strong memory—before it was remodeled—of how that library looked and felt. I think I must have picked books based on the covers, or titles—I certainly didn't read them all. This story isn't the greatest—it's about a new kid in the neighborhood and the slow process of accepting him. What I think really attracted me to it was the vivid portrait of this very large family who are in a lot of ways creative and eccentric. One of the kids cooks meals in the basement—dead animals and vegetables from the wild, and another kid holds funerals for wildlife that has perished, including a bat from the garage. The illustrations here, by Mary Stevens, are also among the best of this era of kid's books—she did a lot of them. Ethelyn M. Parkinson wrote mostly about young boys, and I guess she never had children of her own. She writes with a really singular sense of humor—the situations, and the dialogue, and her word choices—I've never read anything quite like it. She's in a lot of ways like Beverly Cleary, who I also love, but I think (I've not read all of either of them) a bit more odd. She continues to be my favorite children's author, and I'm trying to find and read all of her books.