Sunday, February 19, 2006

Children's Book Meme


I could not resist following DebR's lead! My oldest friends are books. I will put in the disclaimer that I'm sure I don't know in Bookland where the border is between "children's" and "young adult" is. Here goes.

Name your 3 favorite children's series:
I have to say that I think this is a particularly difficult question to limit to "children's". I ejoyed the Pooh books (and the Uncle Remus stories even though that's not PC now) and Paddington Bear was a hooot - but I didn't read any of those myself. When I think about my FAVORITE book or series I find that the memory of actually reading for myself plays into it. And STILL it's hard to narrow down. Sor for just this one category I'm going to cheat and give you my favorite "children's series" and my favorite "probably YA series".

1. The Happy Hollisters by Jerry West - part of my love of these books is that I found the box of them in my grandmother's garage when I was a girl and she gave them to me. They were written in the early 50's and so in tone, they're a lot like the "Golly Gee Whiz" of The Hardy Boys and Ozzie & Harriet. The Hollisters are a big family (five kids I think) who travel and get into scrapes and solve mysteries. My favorite was The Happy Hollisters and the Little Mermaid where they go to Copenhagen! But I must have loaned it out because I couldn't find it to put in the photograph.
2. The Oz books by Frank L. Baum - all of them, not just the Wizard of Oz. I loved "Scarecrow of Oz" and "Tik Tok of Oz" and I think there are maybe 12 or 13 of them. I only have about seven of them - but how can you not like Queen Zixi of Ix?
3. The Book of Three (and the Black Cauldron) by Lloyd Alexander - I don't know what the name of the series is. I just know the individual books but I LOVED them. They were scary and mythic and Taran was just the right amount of clueless and capable.

Young Adult:
1. Madeleine L'Engle's series about the Austin family - I know, I know, everyone loves Wrinkle In Time and those are great but the Austins are even better. (Or perhaps they just came to me at a time when they fit my need perfectly.) And the two are related in someway. Shared universe. Or W.I.T. The Next Generation. I can't quite remember how they're linked. (I'll have to read them all again! Yipee!) L'Engle does amazing things with character and univeral themes like death and redemption in less than 200 pages! Read these. Read these. Especially Ring of Endless Light.

2. Anne of Green Gables - Anne is my all time favorite heroine. I loved all of the books and wanted to have daughters so I could name them Diana and Rilla. I usually hate it when someone makes a movie of one of my favorite books, but I think the Anne movies with Megan Follows were perfectly true to L. M. Montgomery.

3. The Earthsea Trilogy by Ursula K. LeGuin and Susan Cooper's The Dark is Rising tie for third place. Maybe it's because at my house growing up we had dozens of books on mythology - dozens is NOT an exaggeration - but I lived for mythic, epic stories. My kids like things like Animorphs and Margaret Haddix's Shadow Children - which are fantastic but I would not have been able to handle them as a kid! The difference I see is that over time the location of the creepy element seems to have moved in the story. In the books I loved as a kid, the creepiness seemed slightly removed - a map that leads to another world or a long journey where the struggle is encountered. The heroes either went seeking or haplessly fell into the story conflict. In the books my kids read, the creepiness just walks right into the real world here and now and attacks. Yikes.

Name your 3 favorite non-series children's books:
1. From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg - about two children who get locked in (I think) the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC and have to discover the real origins of a statue. (And Jennifer, Hecate, Macbeth, William McKinley, and Me, Elizabeth by the same author is fantastic!)

2. Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh - I wanted to be Harriet (except she ate tomato sandwiches - eeeew.)

3. Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell - I probably read this book 30 times before I was 15. Interestingly, my daughter The Ninja Princessa has a similar favorite book right now: if you like Julie of the Wolves or Island of the Blue Dolphins as a kid and haven't read A Girl Named Disaster by Nancy Farmer - go get it now!

Name your 3 favorite children's book illustrations:
It seems I have a 'type' when it comes to illustrations! What sucks me in is a great central picture with interesting stuff going on in the borders!

1. Jan Brett's Illustrated "The Owl and The Pussycat" - The main story of the gorgeously realized Owl and his beloved happens central panel - BUT there is an under-story. Exquisitely drawn tropical fish are passing on the news of the love as the couple sails along. AND bonus - the border of each page features a different flower and pattern of woven palm fronds. I can't do it justice - you should own this book.

2. Colin Thompson's The Paper Bag Prince - is a wonderful tale of environmental stewardship and reclamation that has lots going on in every picture, but the treasure is in the borders.

3. I was going to say my third favorite is Graeme Base's Animalia (and I love it so), BUT I've decided to break type and share my NEW favorite. Big Momma Makes the World by Phyllis Root and illustrated by Helen Oxenbury is delightful. I collect creation stories and this is simply my very favorite so far. "When Big Momma made the world, she didn't mess around." I would love this book anyway, but it is even more special to me because one of my dearest friends in all the world gave it to me. And my friend, even though she's been out of Georgia living up in Mass and DC - she hasn't lost her perfect reading voice for this story. Really - it takes a soft, southern voice of strength to get Big Momma's words at the end of each day's creation just right. "That's good. That's real good." Really - you should go out and buy this book too. And if you don't have a southerner around to read it to you - go to DC and look my friend T up and beg her to read it out loud to you. Really. I promise you. It's worth it.

Name 3 favorite children's books characters:

1. Anne of Green Gables (L.M. Montgomery)
2. Vicky Austin (from L'Engle's Austin series)
3. Harriet from Harriet the Spy (Fitzhugh)
*Bonus heroine is Alice from Phyllis Naylor's Agony of Alice which didn't make my favorite list only because I discovered as a grown up, not as a kid so there just wasn't enough time to edge out the established beloveds.
I realize that for meme's to keep going you're supposed to tag someone, but the only person I know to tag would be the person I got it from and that doesn't work so well.


Lilymane said...

I had more pictures (darn it!) but Blogger was being spiteful and wouldn't attach them. Sorry.

Deb R said...

Good list! :-)

(And not to stop you re-reading them, but yep, the Austins books are WIT the next generation.)

Jen Robinson said...

Vicky Austin is a great character! You made me want to go and re-read all of the Austin books... Your picture is great, too!