Today I reread Edward Ormondroyd’s Time at the Top and Anne Lindbergh (daughter, not wife)’s Travel Far, Pay No Fare. These were both favorites of mine when I was smaller, but in particular I liked Travel Far, Pay No Fare. I loved it. To me it was the most magical and amazing book of all time – twelve-year-old Owen moves to Vermont, where his nine-year-old cousin Parsley has a bookmark that allows them to go inside books. They visit Little Women (nobody there is nice), Alice in Wonderland (ditto), The Fledgling, The Yearling, and even the volcano scene of The Twenty-One Balloons. I read this book over and over and over as a kid.
Time at the Top was excellent when I was small too, though not quite as excellent. A budding actress called Susan does a good deed for an old lady, and she gets rewarded with three trips backward in time, by going up the elevator in her building. When she goes back in time, she meets Victoria and Robert, whose widowed mother is on the verge of giving in to the advances of an ungentlemanly bloke called Sweeney. There is treasure, and a bad-tempered cat.
If you had asked me, I would have said that Travel Far, Pay No Fare was ten thousand bazillion times better than Time at the Top. But actually, Time at the Top still delights me just as much, whereas Travel Far, Pay No Fare doesn’t have quite the punch that it used to have. It’s sad. When I was eight, Travel Far, Pay No Fare was the most magical book I could ever have imagined. I would check it out from my school library and read it over and over and over.
This growing up business. It’s tricky.