What’s your favourite childhood book?
Hiding amongst the array of books under the Influences tab you will see one called Hiding Out. Small blonde boy? Sitting by a camp fire? Wearing an orange jumper? Found it? Excellent!
If you said to me, name a memorable book from my childhood, this would be number one. It’s every child’s fear to be forgotten when the whole family leaves you behind on a trip… Home Alone style. But this book turns the situation into an adventure. I related to this story mostly because the family in question is travelling through France to get to their holiday destination. Now, I’ve spent many a time squashed in the middle seat of our old Peugeot 405 whilst trekking to our campsite in the south of France (made especially more comfortable when Dad shoves a load of duty free wine in between your seats!) so totally understand the need to pull over, stretch those legs, have a jambon baguette, and a quick explore. Thankfully, Mum and Dad never left me behind…or the duty free wine, so reading this book as a youngster was a chance to find out what could happen in that situation.
Peter (the boy on the front cover) is accidentally left behind in a rural French provence. He learns to build a fire, keep warm, and survive with what little he can find in the French countryside. I won’t go into the whole story, but what starts out as a terrifying situation for Peter becomes an important quest for survival. He comes across animals he’s never seen before, French farmers he cannot understand, and foods he’s never tasted or even heard of.
Rightly so, Hiding Out has won a few awards back in the mid-nineties and the tale has stayed prominent in my mind till this very day. I learned how adventures can lead to independence, how negatives can turn into positives, how important family is, and how other cultures and countries differ from our own. It sparked my imagination. I still love and reference this book and will continue to do so in years to come, particularly to the younger generation of my family. It was also the first time I had read French in fiction. I ended up studying French and English at university…. Maybe Elizabeth Laird and Hiding Out inspired me more than I could ever imagine!
Go on…dig out your favourite childhood book!