Monday, May 23, 2011

My Favourite Children's Books

I  love children's books, probably more so than those intended for more mature audiences.  I thought it might be fun to list my top ten, with comments and see what my readers would select as their top ten.

Thorton W. Burgess series - Reddy Fox, Jimmy Skunk etc.  Mom read these to me as a small child.  We had a few of them in an old clothbound edition.  Over time I spent my birthday money, picking up the rest of the set of twenty in a newer format.  When Ebay arrived on the scene, I was able to complete the set all in the newer format.  I loved daughters found them boring.

Farmer Boy - Laura Ingalls Wilder  This was the one Wilder book that I enjoyed, probably because it was geared more to boys.  It is the story of her husband, Almanzo's childhood.  What I particularly remember about this one, was the description of the food the family ate.

Charlotte's Web - E.B Whitle  This is a classic.  Growing up on a small mixed farm, we had all the same animals, and the fair was a big part of my life.  I loved the characters that White depicted.  I tried to tackle some of his more mature writing a few years back, but it didn't do it for me -- still a kid at heart I guess.

Anne of Green Gables - L. M. Montgomery  Yes I know this is a girl's book, but I still enjoyed the antics of Prince Edward Island's titian-haired lass.  I like the simplicity of life, as described in this book, and the wonderful characters, Montgomery was able to bring to life.  A couple of years ago, I read the complete diaries of Montgomery's life - a fascinating, if somewhat depressing read.  She was not the sunny bright character, you might picture.

Bread and Jam for Frances - Russell and Lillian Hoban  I think it was the illustrations that fixes this one in my mind.  Lillian Hoban is the illustrator and her husband Russell the author.  However the story is well written too, although it is definitely written in a 1960 style, that today's kids fidget under.  Frances is a little badger who learns some important rule of life in each of the six books in the series.  Once again with the advent of Ebay I was able to purchase all of this series.  Bread and Jam is still my favourite though - perhaps it is the description of food that appeals -- is there a running theme here?

Caps For Sale - Esphyr Slobodkina  When I went back to teacher's college a few years ago, I took a Children's Lit survey course.  We had to do a quick summary and critique of 30 children's stories.  When I was looking through the extensive library of children's fiction, I came across Caps For Sale.  I hadn't seen it, or thought of it since childhood, but the memories came flooding back - same with Ferdinand (you know the little bull who liked to smell the flowers?).

The Pokey Puppy  - written by Janette Sebring Lowrey, illustrated by Gustaf Tenggren  I think the illustrations for this book are wonderful.  The puppies are just cartoon enough to be fun, but real enough to be real.  Again there is a food thing - remember the wonderful treats that the mother called the puppies home for?

Dear Mrs LaRue - Mark Teague  The next few are not books from my childhood.  I discovered this book while supply teaching in a classroom early on.  Ike is a remarkable little dog, who gets sent to obedience school for a couple of months, in an attempt to improve his questionable behaviour.  It is written as a series of letters from Ike, back home to his mistress, Mrs LaRue.  This is the first in a series of three books. This book is a great launch pad for teaching letter writing to a class.

Olivia - Ian Falconer  Falconer is the author and illustrator of this primary set of books.  Olivia is a pig with attitude.  They are cutsey in their writing style, and I am not fond of the way Olivia always gets her way, but unfortunately they are a great commentary on a lot of the parenting skills I see.  The true charm of the books are the cartoony illustrations.  Everything is black and white, except for a splash of red in every picture (Olivia loves red).

Eight O'Cluck , written by Jill Creighton, illustrated by Pierre Paul Pariseau  This is a wonderful collaberation between author and illustrator.  The story is a take-off on the old children's game, "What Time Is It Mr. Wolf?".  It is a wonderful time-telling teaching tool (how's that for alliteration?).  The illustrator uses a collage type of magazine art.  All his animals have human mouths, teeth, lips and eyes.  The story is just a great read for any primary/junior class.

So there you have it, my top ten in no particular order.

And that is about all about all I have to say for today.

Musings and meanderings from the Musical Gardener.


  1. To add to your very good list, "Where the Wild Things Are" by Maurice Sendak. My favorites though, are anything by Shel Silerstein.

  2. Charlotte's Web and Anne of Green Gables were my favourites growing up. I read and re-read them. I still want a pig because of Wilbur!


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