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My first library book, rediscovered

I have a clear memory of the first book that I ever checked out of the public library. It was Space Cat, by Ruthven Todd. It’s a short (72 pages) science fiction children’s novel.

Whether I was in the second or third grade, I’m not certain. I think the book would have been within my reading ability in the second grade. I doubt that I could have been kept away from the public library until I was in the third grade. I would have been eight or nine years old, and the year would have been 1956 or 1957. I recall that it was a weekend afternoon. After we got home, I went straight to my room and read the book. I finished it well before suppertime. I believe I cried when the story was over. I begged to go back to the library for more books, but my father said, sorry, not today.

I’ve thought about this book often. For some reason, last week it was in my mind long enough that it occurred to me to check and see if the book could be bought from a used book seller on Amazon. Indeed, there were many copies available. They’re not cheap, because I saw from the reviews that I’m not the only person who remembers this book from childhood. I got a good copy that had been discarded from a school library. It cost me $44.20.

Ruthven Todd, I was not surprised to learn, was a Scotsman, from Edinburgh. He had a bit of a dissipated life, it seems, and became an alcoholic. Space Cat, which was published in 1952, made him some money, enough that he wrote a few sequels. The American version was published by Charles Scribner’s Sons in New York.

Tonight I think I’ll drink a toast to Ruthven Todd and read to the cat a few lines from Space Cat:

Slowly, ever so slowly, the bright moon started to climb up the sky, and Flyball twitched a possessive whisker toward it. That was his Moon. None of the others really knew anything about it. He purred gently to himself, basking in the admiration of the earth-bound. Then he burst into a cheerful song:

The Moon is only the start,
Says Flyball the flier.
We’ll reach the stars yet
Going higher and higher.
We’ll voyage right round space
To the ends of the sky.
Oh, no one ever can guess
How far we will fly!”

Illustrations by Paul Galdone


  1. Henry Sandigo wrote:

    Its always nice to have fond memories of your youth.

    Wednesday, February 28, 2018 at 3:54 pm | Permalink
  2. frigast wrote:

    That flyball has a VERY good attitude 🙂
    Wished I had been reading English books when a youngster.
    But of course – it’s never too late 🙂

    Tuesday, March 13, 2018 at 7:10 am | Permalink

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