Tag Archives: children’s books

P, poke, poke.

P is a cheeky kind of letter, always sticking its tongue out at someone. ;-P

Pis for Parish, Peggy Parish, author of the Amelia Bedelia books. You haven’t heard of these books? What kind of childhood did you have? Parish’s books were the first comedy I remember reading. They were funny in a silly way that kids and adults both enjoy, plus Parish plays with language. I liked the language play, the misunderstandings, and the hilarity that ensued when Amelia Bedelia got the wrong end of some instruction or other. Parish wins the cheeky-P author prize for giving me lots of laughs and lessons on playing with words.


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Compared to F, the risqué letter with proFane connotations, G is a good little letter. Glad. Good. Grateful. Gracious. Gah. G simply oozes goodness. What could possibly be bad about something that starts with G?

ggoatOk, maybe Goats aren’t quite the image of goodness, but still. Goats can be cute.

G also stands for George, Jean George, author of My Side of the Mountain among other things. I read a lot of George when I was growing up. I was pleased to find a used copy of My Side of the Mountain when I was grown up and wanted to revisit the world George created, where teens and nature connected so well. I appreciated the independence of her characters, plus they managed to survive in the wild. That was interesting. It was nothing like Survivor though — no tv cameras and big money at the end.

I’ve written about other children’s books that stuck in my memory. These stuck because of the woods and the solo aspect of the adventures of the main characters — solo except for the animals and the trees. I liked the world without people. I’ve since learned that one cannot live in a world completely devoid of people with only animals and trees for company. It isn’t good theology either.



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Children’s Books — A UK list

Last week I linked to the New York Public Library 100 best children’s books list. This week, its a list from the UK from an organization called Booktrust. Of course the UK list has a different flavour, plus they’ve organized the list by four age groups with 25 books in each category. I think the last age category has been interpreted rather broadly and tends toward young adult (if not adult) books rather than children’s books. Still and all I got 21 books out of their 100. It helps that I lived in the UK for a year before I was 14.

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Children’s Books — a new list

I asked my reading friends about children’s books they loved and published the results about a month ago. The New York Public Library has just published a list of 100 great children’s books. I’ve read 22, how many have you read?

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Reading Poetry

I asked my reading friends on fb whether they read poetry. It was interesting that almost a completely different set of people jumped on this question. Do prose and poetry readers talk to each other? Hmm. A question for another day.

My fb friends have eclectic taste in poetry. I think that is pretty common. Poetry seems to be an eclectic thing. See my month of poetry if you doubt that. Or don’t if you are a poetry lover. I’m pretty sure it is all bad poetry. You see I don’t read poetry regularly, which is probably why I write bad poetry. Or why I can’t tell good from bad poetry. I’ve not had sufficient exposure to the mysteries of the pome. (Intentional misspelling by the way. Meant to be funny. If I have to explain it in more than three sentences, that means it probably isn’t funny.)

Poetry I remember reading — Robert Service “The Cremation of Sam McGee,” ridiculous clerihews about King George the Third (George the third/ought never to have occurred./One can only wonder/at such an enormous blunder.), A.A. Milne Now We Are SixI think my copy of Milne disintegrated. It was a paperback. Someone (my brother? me?) coloured in some of the line illustrations.

Wait! Stop press! I found it on my shelf. Whew. Yeah, someone used a crayon in all the pictures in “King John’s Christmas.” Now that I’ve got my copy in hand I can give you the first poem, which was my favourite, and explains why I’ve still got the book on my shelf.


I have a house where I go

When there’s too many people,

I have a house where I go

Where no one can be;

I have a house where I go,

Where nobody every says “No”

Where no one says anything — so

There is no one but me.

This is the illustration that goes with it:



So yeah. Milne is my favourite at the moment. I shall try to read more other poetry. I’ve got some sitting on my shelf. I’ll report back.

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Favourite Book For Children

The big list of questions about books and reading that I’m working through asks What is your favourite childhood book? I’ve written about my favourite chapter books for children before in this space. Today I’ll add my two favourite picture books of all time and then append an interesting list of favourites generated by my fb friends.

My two favourite picture books are And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street by Dr. Seuss, and Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak.



I love the complicated pictures in Mulberry Street and both the story and pictures in WTWTA.

I did not go to see the movie “Where The Wild Things Are” though a friend and I talked about it as we both loved the book. Then we did not go see the movie.

I asked my friends on facebook about childhood books they loved and a very interesting list was generated. This question got the most participation of any of my literary surveys so far. That in itself is interesting. I’ll throw the list up for you — I must note that some of the books listed are missing from this list as I could not find info for them. Also there was a late entry to the conversation who liked Tarzan comics. Some people listed series of books or anything by some author. I’ve listed authors and series below the books named. The list is bilingual with a slight Canadian flavour.


(chapter books)

  • A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett (2)
  • Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
  • Henry Higgins by Beverly Cleary
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
  • Matilda by Roald Dahl
  • The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
  • A Tale of Time City by Diana Wynne Jones
  • No Coins, Please by Gordon Korman
  • Bugs Potter Live at Nickaninny by Gordon Korman
  • Paradise Wars by Stephen Lawhead
  • Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis
  • The Call of the Wild by Jack London
  • The Giver by Lois Lowry
  • The King’s Daughter by Suzanne Martel
  • Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell
  • Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery (3)
  • The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery
  • Jacob I have Loved by Katherine Paterson
  • Lincoln’s Little Correspondent by Hertha Ernestine Pauli
  • This Present Darkness by Frank Perretti
  • Jacob Two Two Meets the Hooded Fang by Mordecai Richler
  • The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
  • The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • Little House In the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder (2)
  • Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
  • The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder
  • Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder

(picture books)

  • McElligot’s Pool by Dr. Suess
  • Death, Duck, and the Tulip by Wolf Erlbruch
  • Make Way for Ducklings and other Robert McCloskey books
  • The Balloon Tree by Phoebe Gilman
  • The Happy Lion by Louise Fatio (Author), Roger Duvoisin (illustrator)
  • Mop Top by Don Freeman




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Crossover in Reverse

An enormous flap was made when J.K. Rowling, kid’s author, made the jump to Adult Fiction. Why is the same not true for people like John Grisham, Adult Novelist, who also wrote Kids Books? Or for Jasper Fforde, of Thursday Next fame, who has written some dragon books that look a lot like YA fiction? Or for Many Other Adult Novelists who have also published for children?

Let the flap commence.


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I’ve been looking at that GeekDad list of books to read aloud to your children before age 10. I hadn’t read some of the books, mostly because I have no children, and because some of them were not yet published when I was growing up. I went online and found an e-library copy of Coraline by Neil Gaiman. The more I read Mr. Gaiman, the more I like his stuff. Of course this book wasn’t published when I was small, but I quite like it. It makes me reconsider what has actually come out of my mad typing this month for NaNoWriMo. I think I should have attempted something on the scale of Coraline with the basic idea I started with. Instead I’ve been bouncing around not quite sure if I’m writing a failed fantasy novel, or some magical realism where the magic hasn’t quite started, or a family epic. I think reading Coraline aloud to a child between 8 and 11 would be a great experience for both the child and adult involved. It has suspense, adventure, and a puzzle to figure out. It also makes me want to read more Gaiman.

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Becoming a Reader

I’ve seen lots of books and ideas about how to raise readers or how to encourage your children to love books. I find these interesting. I’m not sure why I am a crazy reader. Yes, my AParents read in front of my brother and I, but reading aloud was not something I particularly remember. I’m sure it happened, but it doesn’t occupy a huge space in my brain as a Pleasant Childhood Memory. I remember really starting to burn through books when I was in grade 2, or 7 years old. I know I read before then, but that was when I really got into reading. We were living in England, in Greater London that school year, and I was in a different place and space, out of my comfort zone. As a family we travelled and saw a lot that year. Everyone was stretched as we encountered a different culture and coped with driving hazards like roundabouts, smaller sized items at the grocery store, and different names for things — torch instead of flashlight for example. I think that maybe I remember the reading I did that year because it helped me figure things out. I read books that were British, not Canadian, and they helped me figure out some vocabulary. Also the books were an escape into a different world. If being in a different school was stressful, I could escape by reading. These are just theories, the adult looking back and remembering what the child did. I don’t know if I knew that I was figuring things out or escaping at the time. No, I think I knew I was escaping. Even then I re-read. I re-read because I wanted to go back to that particular world and experience.

It turns out that a love of reading might be genetic. Seriously. 1Mom is a serious book addict just like me. Stick us in a used bookstore and we are good to go. I was pretty amused when I found this out. Both of us admit to reading as an escape mechanism. We get lost in the BookWorld.

When did you become a reader and why?

Reading is still an escape and it still helps me figure things out.

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New List of 100 Books!

Courtesy of the Playwright, here is a list of the top 100 children’s books as listed by real readers polled by the School Library Journal. True confessions: I’ve read fewer than half of these, but many have been published since I was in the target age category. I was very pleased by the top five. I think that is a great top five. I really like the inclusion of From The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. I love that book, then and now. I found a used copy a couple of years ago and passed it on to a younger reader so that she wouldn’t miss it.
The poll conducted by the SLJ to compile this list asked people to list their top ten children’s chapter books. I am a bit removed in time from this kind of reading, though I do occasionally get some good tips on newer books in this category, so this list reflects some more recent reading as well as remembered favourites. Here are my top ten, though the order may shift from day to day.
1. The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis. For me this is all about finding family origins. It was also the first Narnia book I read, thus still a sentimental favourite.
2. From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg. Mystery, an in-charge oldest sister and living in a museum. Totally awesome.
3. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling. Read as an adult. The first time I read the book, a random young woman (10 or 11 years old) in a coffee shop informed me that it was a very good book. I agreed.
4. Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh. I started carrying a notebook and haven’t stopped.
5. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl. Couldn’t bring myself to see the movie, I wanted to keep my own mental pictures.
6. Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder. This was my favourite of the Little House books. I re-read them all, but this one especially.
7. My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George. Found a paperback copy of this in adult life and think I still have it tucked away on my shelf. Survival and adventures in the woods.
8. The Island of Adventure by Enid Blyton. I don’t think there are any Blyton books on the list from SLJ but she was never widely available in North America. I think I liked the adventure series the best of hers. I used to read during school lessons, book hidden under my desk. This was one of the books I read in that furtive way. I did read it more than once, but once was in class. Can’t remember if I got caught with this one though. I had the thing down to an art, listening just enough to answer questions when asked. I think it annoyed my teachers…
9. The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander. A Fantasy series that showed me that there was more to the fantasy universe than Lewis and Tolkien. This whole series is good. I blazed through them in about a day, then re-read them.
10. The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart. I just read this in the last year, but it makes my top 10. Double-plus good as my friend The Constant Reader told me when she recommended it.
What are your top ten?


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