I’m pretty sure this is the first book I remember reading, or having read to me.
And yes, this is my actual copy, which I’m pretty sure I’ve had my entire life.
It goes back so far in memory that I have no specific recollections to connect to it – what it triggers in my brain are vague but encompassing sensations of times and places and the feeling of a particular era.
It’s the early 1970s, Lima, Ohio. My parents rent a house on North Main street, and we have a black-and-white Zenith TV in our front room, and a convertible VW bug in the driveway. The soundtrack of the time includes “Band on the Run” and “Billy Don’t Be A Hero.”
Though I’m sure both Mom and Dad read this book to me countless times, I still hear it in my grandma Joan’s voice. She has a slight Midwestern accent, and her librarian’s cadence and careful enunciation is mixed with a storytelling grandparent’s sweetness and tone of wonder that ends every sentence with the unasked question, “What do you think is going to happen next?”
I’ve written a lot about growing up in the 1980s, but over the past couple years, I’ve realized how much I absorbed from the early-to-mid 1970s, and how bits and pieces from those times are lodged in the back corners of my mind. I’ve been meaning to mine that territory a bit more, and Giant John has been there the whole time.