Secret Ingredients – 3

I’m starting a new series on here about the books that influenced me growing up.

These are the books that shaped my brain. Gave me my fears, values, and passions.

The Julie Secret Ingredients!




Not every ingredient is sweet or savory. Some are sour. I don’t remember the name of this particular book, and I’ve searched Google all weekend looking for it.

It was a book of poetry with a dark brown, embossed cover with sharp edges and gold lettering, gilded pages, and heavy. Cold on my summer-bare thighs.

I think it was a gift to me. Probably with a well-meaning inscription. It felt like it should have answers or spells or something of importance to grasp.

It was a book of poetry for children, but not really. Not at all. I had a love-hate relationship with this book. Clearly, it was special. It looked expensive. But, I couldn’t crack the code. The meaning eluded me. I grew frustrated with it, and that led to a suspicion of grown-up poetry for decades. Poetry was prickly and made me feel dumb.

What I learned from my google search is that there were a heck of a lot of better choices out there to introduce an elementary school kid to classic poetry!

I remain baffled by the gift. I wish I could remember the exact title, because I would find it and buy it and conquer it now as an adult! It’s almost funny that I couldn’t find it. Here I am, frustrated and defeated again!

I do remember a tiny, elaborate illustration on one of the poems about a boy and a ship.

Even today, when I hear Pink Floyd’s line…the distant ships smoke on the horizon…that’s the melancholy image in my mind. A small British boy in short pants watching the ship steam away.

Are there any books whose challenge you lost? Does it affect you today?


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