It’s rare that, upon mentioning a childhood book, everyone has almost the same reaction which goes something along the lines of; ‘I love that book. I read it over and over again.’ Or, ‘The cover fell off that book I read it so many times.’ Or, ‘That book scared the bejezzus out of me, but I loved it.’
This is the power of great story-telling. This is In a Dark, Dark Room and Other Scary Stories and let me tell you, these are genuinely terrifying tales from an era of story-telling which wasn’t afraid to petrify children, but not in a luridly detailed or gory fashion. Oh no, the fear is imbedded in the matter of fact disclosure of fantastical happenings.
‘The Green Ribbon’ is the pinnacle of this understated fear manufacturing and my enduring memory of this book. On the face of it, ‘The Green Ribbon’ is a story about a young girl growing up and falling in love. But she has a secret; why does she always wear a green ribbon? I’m not going to spoil it for anyone who hasn’t already read the book. To those people I say: Go, find a copy and read it. Do it now.
As an adult (apparently), I still love this book. Looking back through it, I am surprised that I wasn’t more scared of it, than I remember. But it is another footnote to the saying that I use when friends or family question my personal peculiarities; ‘There’s a reason why I turned out like this.’