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Nostalgia: Finding the book that defined my childhood

Updated on October 18, 2011
A little Old Man, a book i've been searching for, for years!
A little Old Man, a book i've been searching for, for years! | Source

Have you ever searched for an item from your childhood but couldn’t find it? The memory of it, whether it be a toy, video game, movie or book, ingrained in your head defining a small part of who you were as a child. With the invention of the internet, Google searches, Amazon, and eBay it is becoming easier to discover those items of the past that hold so much power over us. I am ecstatic this morning for I finally discovered a children’s book from my childhood. To show how much the world has changed since I read that book, I discovered it searching the internet on my iPod touch! For years I wondered about this book. I couldn’t remember the name of it but I did remember the general storyline. I brought it up to my mother and my aunt, anyone who might know where the book was or at least what the title was. There was never any urgency to finding the book but like many of you out there, the emotional and sentimental value of discovering this book would have been great. Whenever we cleaned out a room or the basement I would search through the old books hoping to stumble upon it, reminding everyone who was helping out to keep an eye out for it. After years of spring cleaning my mother and I came to the conclusion that the book must have been given away or thrown out. This was disappointing but pushed me in a different direction, the internet. Now that I knew I didn’t have the book in the house anymore my first step was to find the title online. I tried Googling the content, I began looking at Amazon, where many books are sold, but nothing showed up. I must not have had the right keywords. The searches were sporadic, only looking for the book when my mind wandered and I had time to surf the net, which brings me to this morning.

It’s mid October and Christmas is just around the corner! Being in graduate school I’m on a strict budget for gifts, however I still like to get a few gifts for my family and friends. Although I usually don’t buy anything till the last minute, I do like to plan ahead. I saw this idea posted on a WebAnswers about gift ideas and one person suggested getting items from the person’s childhood, even to use eBay if it’s not made anymore. I thought that was a great idea, so I began to look up stuff from mine and my siblings’ childhood. Then that little memory that I have always held for this book popped up in my head. I barely even registered that I had switched my objective from gift reconnaissance to finding the book for myself. However it paid off! I must have thought of just the right keywords “little old man by the sea” that unveiled my book I've been searching for, for years! The name of the book was simply “A Little Old Man” written by Natalie Norton, illustrations by Will Huntington and published by Rand McNally in 1959. I can’t believe I found it! The short book with unbelievable illustrations is about an old man who lives on an island all by himself. He wishes that he could have a pet cat for company, then a storm hits washing away his small house but replacing it with a ship. This ship isn't unoccupied though; it has a number of kittens on board. He uses the ship as a house and the kittens as his companions. So unless this is a book that you loved as a child, you’re probably asking what’s the big deal. For me this book is the first book I remember reading completely through, it may not be the first book I read but it’s definitely the first one I remember. I remember looking at the illustrations all the time, I loved the old man’s little island and was fascinated by the storm that hits.

Now that I found the book and have seen some of the illustrations online it shocks me how this book has many themes and subjects that shape who I am today! Did they come from this book, I have no idea! For example the guy lives on an island, I love being by the water and would love to live on the water.

Looking at it now it was also a self sustaining island and I am into sustainability now. I have known that I've always been fascinated by the weather but even at a very early age I loved the illustrations of the storm that hits the old man’s island. It’s interesting to see how I interpret the book now, as an adult, and how I see a lot of who I am today in this book. Like many people these special items from our childhood really do stick with you throughout your life! Now I have to search for the book to buy, hopefully I will find one in great condition. It’s always nice to be able to buy something from your childhood but what’s even greater is to hopefully have the chance to share it with your children (not that I’m planning on having any anytime soon!) I do highly recommend the book “A Little Old Man” by Natalie Norton, it’s a great children’s book! Good luck finding those sentimental items from your childhood, the Internet opens so many doors to the past!


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    • BWD316 profile imageAUTHOR

      Brian Dooling 

      6 years ago from Connecticut

      I'm glad it brought back good memories mom4autism! I hope you and your children enjoy "A Wrinkle in Time"! Thanks for the comment!

    • mom4autism profile image


      6 years ago from Northeast U.S.

      Great hub, it reminded me of a favorite of mine, A Wrinkle in Time. Thank you as I may just read it to my own children!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Can anybody help me obtain a copy of a book called "Pobody's Nerfect" by Nancy Brummett??

    • Mama Told Me profile image

      Mama Told Me 

      7 years ago from Anchorage AK

      There was a book called (I think) Kneedeep in Thunder and was a modern retelling of Indian myths (since it was written in the 70's I don't know if they meant North American Native or Indian from India, but my feeling was the former).

    • JT Walters profile image

      JT Walters 

      7 years ago from Florida

      Hi Brian,

      I don't know if I could find Struwelpeter of Uncle Wiggly? But your article has inspired me to look.



    • BWD316 profile imageAUTHOR

      Brian Dooling 

      7 years ago from Connecticut

      Hey JT, Thanks for the comment, yeah I could see how it would be harder to find books from your childhood if they were in a differnt language but don't underestimate the internet! You may stumble across it just like I did!

    • JT Walters profile image

      JT Walters 

      7 years ago from Florida

      Hi Brian,

      It is particularly hard when you are mutli-cultural to find your childhood books. Great Hub.

      I really like it as it has given me no places to look for my childhood books.



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