As far back as I can remember, I always knew that I did not like school. Even as a child, I did not like going to elementary school. Back then I was very shy and antisocial, so it made perfect sense that I attended a performing arts school. Every class had to perform some kind of play or singing show at least once a year. Of course I would do my best to get the smallest role, or try to be lost in the group of singers.
Anyway, one of the few things I liked about school was the book clubs. One of the things I always liked to do as a child was read. Everyone would always find me with a book in my hand. My relatives would joke that the whole world would be falling down all around me and I would be sitting in one spot reading Chocolate Fever. I couldn’t help it. Books would whisk me away to strange lands or interesting lives. So it was a no brainer when the book catalogs would arrive in the classroom, I would be all Kool-aid smiles. OH YEAH!
The catalogs would have pictures of all kinds of books and their descriptions. Throughout my elementary career, our classes would get these brochures in every grade. The usual company that would distribute them was usually Troll. All of the classmates would refer to them as Troll books even though the books were published by numerous publishers, not creatures who lived in a labyrinth.
Although my family never had much money, my parents would always let me pick out a few things to order. The thing that sucks about the club is that it would take forever to actually receive the books. By the time they arrived in class and the books were given out, I would be confused because I could not remember ordering them. Either the order would take a long time, or I had a very short attention span (or both).
The coolest book I remember ordering was Garfield’s Halloween Adventure. It was a graphic novel of the animated special. Since the book was recently released a year ago, that year must have been 1986, about 23 years ago. I was a big fan of the television special and recorded I on VHS when it was first aired. There were some slight differences between the book and the show. There were significant changes in the book. As Garfield and Odie were running away from the ghosts in the run down mansion, Garfield noticed a gold ring in the treasure chest and quickly pocketed it. Maybe he had seen one of those gold for cash commercials. Who hasn’t?
When Garfield and Odie returned home, the ghosts were waiting for them. After they were chased again, Garfield realized they’re after the ring. He then throws the ring at the ghosts and they disappear. This was the first time I ever read a book that had a slightly different story than it’s television counterpart. Man, I loved that book and read it over and over. To this day, I hold Garfield’s Halloween Adventure with the highest regard, and I think the TV/book combo had a hand in that.
A cool aspect of the Troll catalogs is that they’re usually relevant to the time of year they are printed out. Huh? For instance, the September brochure usually has books based on Halloween. In the pic provided, one can see the monsters and slime on the ends of the catalog. Those kind of pictures would get me excite for the coming holiday. It was a brochure like this is where I saw the Garfield Halloween book.
Thanksgiving was another holiday that was represented on these brochures. There were usually books about the pilgrims, famous characters such as the Bearenstain Bears, Arthur, and turkey stories. At one point or another, they would end up sitting down at a table for dinner. It’s funny how that image of a family at a table is so engrained into our culture. However, I think Thanksgiving is the only time this year I actually sat at a table with my family for dinner.
Christmas is basically the Super bowl of the book catalogs. All of the students are already psyched about Christmas coming soon. The Christmas themed books would complement that excitement. Because familiar characters would celebrate the holiday in the books, he reading would basically be a Christmas special in book form.
Sometimes other things such as ornaments would be offered in the brochure as well as books. Activity books would also be a bonus that was available. Most stuff with Christmas would get snatched up dumb quick.
When I started doing research for this blog post, I noticed that I was having trouble finding Troll catalogs. Apparently many teachers have complained that there were too many different brochures. So Troll and Scholastic has joined forces to battle the evil Cobra Comm… um, I mean the merged to make the choices easier for teachers. What sucks about it is that the Troll name is no longer used. I pretty much grew up with the Troll brochures. I haven’t been this upset about a name change since NesQuik.
Another thing I learned when doing research is that there are different catalogs for different grades. I don’t know why it never occurred to me that this idea was used in the past. I guess that’s what happens when you have fried dumplings for brains.
I kind of forgot about the Troll books until my late teens because my younger brother would get them and I would read those catalogs for hours. These memories recently came back because I’ve been buying books for my son. He’s too young to read, but I have been getting him used to holding and looking at books. I can’t wait until he starts going to school and getting these brochures. When he finally does…it’s on!