The Wombles

July 11, 2010 at 12:14 am | Posted in me | 3 Comments
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WARNING: Ramble ahead.

Anyone ever read The Wombles series?  It struck me the other day that the Wombles series might be an underappreciated series and that more kids these days ought to read the books.  It has cute furry creatures that have adventures and fun.  Moreover, it first came out in 1968, back when singers knew how to sing and writers knew how to write.  It also led me to think about my own book history.

I remember being addicted to Richard Scarry books as a child.  They were big, the words were easy to read, and the best part of it was that there was lots of detail in every single page.  Illustrations of secondary characters having their own unwritten stories in the background where my mind would extrapolate in thought.  Funny situations, or potential accidents waiting to happen.  Following this genre of books, it was not surprising that I eventually moved onto the “Where’s Wally?” series, until I had a sizable collection of almost every availible book in the wally-searching series up to and including the “Ultimate Where’s Wally” by the time I had left Australia back in mid 1995.

My mum accuses me of making her read the classic story of the Three Little Pigs to me all the time when I was very small, but I cannot recall a very specific wordy book that I first read.  What I do remember however, was borrowing often from the school library when I was in lower primary, some horror, some of the name-branded “believe it or not” books, and I recall being reprimanded for stuffing way too many books under my desk and depriving other people of the chance to read them.  Those were teh slightly thinner A5 sized quick novels that were probably around 30-40 pages long.  I had probably started one by one, but soon I suppose I got terrified that someone might be reading the only book I hadn’t read yet, which is why I hid all the unread books.

It may have been when I was back in Hong Kong, around primary 4, that I first experienced feelings of emptiness.  What emptiness? The sort you feel when you’ve been reading or following an engrossing series of books or manga and you realise that either:

a) You’re completely up-to-date with the series of books/manga and will have to wait for the author to come out with new material

or

b) You realise that there is more material out there that you do not have access to at the moment – maybe you didn’t borrow all the books of the series in one go, or maybe in terms of manga, the japanese versions are out but the translated versions aren’t and you’ll have to wait either way.

The Wombles was the first series to hit me in this manner.  I was probably intrigued by the cute fluffy animals on the cover, and had borrowed the two books that were availible.  After reading them, I realise that not only were there more of the same books out there, but also I had read them in the wrong order.  The main element that attracted me was ability of Elisabeth Beresford to create a world detailed enough that I could easily imagine myself in, looking on like an outside spectator.  Immersive environment!  Exciting adventure!  Sounds like a game.  Sounds like some of the fundamental forces that make some books so great, like the world of Middle Earth by Tolkein.  There were descriptions of how the wombles lived in side their tunnels, there were adventures around the world to meet wombles from other countries, there were adventures within their local area as well.  I think I eventaully managed to read them all somehow, or maybe I gave up.  A slightly more fantasy-skewed verion of this might be the Moominvalley series, a bunch of novels originally of Swedish origin, but taken up by Japan in more recent years and heavily commericalised.  Those I certainly remember reading sometime during my latter primary years in Hong Kong.

I’m having considerable difficulty locating the Womble books in the Hong Kong Public Library system.  Searching through their database, I could only see single copies of each book lying all around the public libraries of Hong Kong.  Local bookshops aren’t stocking them.  Not surprising, since the these are rather old books.  Nevertheless! I will preservere.  Amazon UK appears to have some second hand copies going for 1 pence each…with 2.75 GBP delivery charge.


TL,DR(too long, didn’t read):  Young adult acting like an old man looking to collect memorabilia from his childhood, remnices and complains about rarity.

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3 Comments »

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  1. Nostalgia trip eh?

  2. Read the classics.

  3. Too cute.


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