Weird Books of Our Childhood


There’s lots of weird stuff that everyone remembers from their childhoods. And there sure is a ton of that for us, Baker Tuthill & Oliver Barnfield. Today, we’ll be talking about our favorite childhood books that weren’t all sunshine and rainbows.

Baker: Ragweed/Poppy by Avi

Where to start? Ragweed is the first of these two, and I believe my 3rd grade teacher read these aloud to our class. We started with Ragweed and finished that whole book. I don’t remember finishing Poppy. Anyway, Ragweed follows a young, adventurous mouse (Ragweed himself) who longs for something more and leaves his country home for a life of high adventure in the big city. On arrival, he discovers an evil organization (appropriately named F.E.A.R: Felines Enraged About Rodents) that strives to put cats first. I case you were wondering, humans do exist. They just don’t play a large role. The fact that cats are somehow more prominent than humans in “The big city” is a mystery to me. But F.E.A.R takes itself very seriously, and seeks to rid the city of mice!

That’s the basic plot: and it doesn’t sound too weird. One thing, though: Ragweed and his friends are always described as, “motley but musical.” Why are a bunch of random street mice so musical? What does that even mean for mice? And why are there so many intense descriptions in the book? Here’s one: “The spring air was brimming with sweetness; the vaulting blue sky seemed endless, the sun warm and embracing. Amid moss and grass, flowers had burst forth with youthful daring, in contrast to the shallow old Brook, which wound lazily between low, leafy banks, bearing pink and white water lilies on its wide surface. As for the tall trees that stood all around, they were veiled in a downy green mist of just-born leaves.” Man. All this on page 4, really page 3. And I haven’t even started on Poppy.

In Poppy, Ragweed dies in the first handful of pages, and as a 3rd grader I think I was traumatized. The descriptions in that one are weird too. For example, “Avi” (if that’s even his real name) goes into great detail about “meaty” animals who the owl villain can spear on his talons while he “hiss”es with pleasure. That’s really all I remember of that book.

Baker: Time Warp Trio

Who remembers this one? Time Warp Trio follows three boys who travel all throughout time, from the caveman ages to the far future (2095) on zany adventures. How do they 3 travel through time? A machine? A magic wand? No. One of the boys gets a magic book from his weird uncle (#Relatable!). It lets them travel through time! Cool, huh? Not really. The book randomly teleports them to strange places throughout history. They must find the book to return home. One thing that was really strange, though: the three boys had three alternate universe girl counterparts. Why three random kids had their personalities copied into girls 90 years later is a mystery to me. The 3 gender-swapped counterparts randomly appeared throughout the series, lending a hand whenever they needed to.  I really enjoyed this series and I read almost all the books, but I always remember the illustrations as being really odd.

Oliver: Time Warp Trio

The series sported many examples of funny and idiosyncratic humor, and the magic book was simply called “The Book”. One thing that always stuck out to me about these books was their great illustrations, and for the first few books they were drawn by Lane Smith and were really vibrant and cool. The covers were always really cool as well.

But he got replaced by some rando whose drawings weren’t as good, and it seemed to me like the books got lower in quality as well. They seemed to be stretching for places to set the books.  One of the later books was called “Hey Kid, Wanna Buy A Bridge” and it didn’t have that interesting of a time frame to be set in.

But the reason the series was interesting to me besides the drawings were the amount of violence in the books. I remember the series having lots of blood, and the Greek one had my first exposure to the word “hell” in a book.

Oliver: Guardians of Ga’hoole by Kathryn Lasky

This was one of the most weirdly complicated “kids books” series I’ve ever read. The storyline was so intricate and complex, And did I mention that the entire series is about talking owls in a post-apocalyptic future? The Wikipedia page describes the storyline as follows:  This series follows the adventures of Soren, a young barn owl, for the first six books, but follows Nyroc, Soren’s nephew, later renamed Coryn, for books seven through eight, and twelve through fifteen are books describing the Reign of King Coryn. Books nine through eleven are half-prequels to the other books, following the story of Hoole, the first king of the Ga’Hoole Tree.” Yep, characters change their name halfway through the series, several books change the focus entirely, and the series lasts for 16 BOOKS. I distinctly remember one of the books (I believe it was called Wind River) being filled with long descriptions of the wind and how it moved. Says the summary for Book 4: The story tells of Kludd’s initiation into the Pure Ones, as it is learned that he maimed a Non-Tyto, killed a nest-maid snake and attempted to kill his younger brother by pushing him out of the nest. At the Great Tree, Ezylryb gives a speech, quite similar to the speeches given by Winston Churchill during World War II, and the tree gets prep om the Pure Ones.” Seriously? Familial drama, World War II allegories, and maiming snakes? IN A BOOK ABOUT TALKING OWLS? And that’s just the main series.

There are 3 spin-off series: Legends of Ga’hoole, Wolves of the Beyond, Horses of the Dawn (a standalone prequel set in 1520’s, in which a horse is eaten by a great white shark) and Bears of the Ice (the most recent series). This is the most complicated fantasy series since Game of Thrones.

Many Waters (A Wrinkle in Time Book 4) by Madeleine L’Engle:

The companion to A Wrinkle in Time takes a decidedly… explicit… turn when it comes to its storyline. There is some strangely obscene adult content in this book, from references to naked midgets to extreme detail describing, um…. bodily functions. I won’t go into too much detail, but let’s just say that the Wrinkle in Time movie won’t be getting a 4th sequel any time soon.