If you see a whole thing - it seems that it's always beautiful. Planets, lives... But up close a world's all dirt and rocks. And day to day, life's a hard job, you get tired, you lose the pattern. - Ursula K. LeGuin

Monday, May 12, 2008

Children's Literature

K8 tells us that this week is Children's Books week and invites us to share some of our favorite children's literature. I was very lucky growing up to have a mother who loved children's lit and exposed me to many excellent books. At the time she was pursuing her doctorate in English Lit but eventually put that aside and started writing books for young adults. One of my sisters, Meg, is also a published author of books for young children, so it is a subject with which I have some familiarity.

I decided to share some of the books that made it through Boy's childhood. These are books that I bought him and shared with him and when he outgrew them I refused to let them go.

The Trumpet of the Swan
is definitely number 1. I know Charlotte's Web is the favored E.B. White but the story of Louis, the mute young swan who plays Beautiful Dreamer on his trumpet to win the heart of his one love, Serena, won me over the first time I read it. I can't tell you how thrilled I was when Boy loved it best too. It was a book we discussed for several years and one he still remembers fondly.

Next up is An Anteater Named Arthur by Bernard Waber. I picked this little gem up in a library booksale in Boy's elementary school. I had never seen it before but fell in love with the stories of Arthur as told by his mother. The last story in the book "Sometimes Arthur Forgets" was Boy to a T.

A favorite of mine, but not Boy's was Catwings by Ursula K. Le Guin. I do love anything by her and her Earthsea Trilogy was my first foray into science fiction. Who wouldn't love a story about a litter of kittens born with wings? Unfortunately that would be Boy. I could never get past the first chapter with him.

I have loved dragons since I was a child (I still get weepy when I hear Puff the Magic Dragon) and I read any story that contained a dragon. Yet somehow I missed Ruth Stiles Gannett's "My Father's Dragon" books. Meg gave them to Boy when my niece had outgrown them. Originally there were three but I can only find two now: Elmer and the Dragon and The Dragons of Blueland.

Another book that Boy loved as much as I but seems to have disappeared, is The Phantom Tollbooth. He totally got into the adventure, the puns, and the general zaniness. He would often fall into hysterical laughter and make me reread sections over and over before we could proceed. Wonderful illustrations by Jules Feiffer just adds to the charm.

I'll end tonight's post with Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH. A charming story of a mother mouse who must move her children out of the field before the harvest but her youngest son, Timothy, is too sick to be moved. Super intelligent rats from NIMH come to her aid.

Stay tuned for the post on children's poetry.


max said...


I grew up as a reluctant reader. Now I write action-adventures & mysteries, especially for boys 8 and up, that kids hate to put down. My web site is at http://www.maxbooks.9k.com and my Books for Boys blog is at http://booksandboys.blogspot.com
Ranked by Accelerated Reader

Max Elliot Anderson

life_of_a_fool said...

Oh my god! I love the Phantom Tollbooth!! I have seen it in the past few years, at least, in a bookstore.

k8 said...

Great selections! As for poetry, do you like Science Verse by John Sciezka? It cracks me up! He has a great website called "Guys Read" devoted to getting boys to read more.

By the way, I'm definitely sensing a science theme in your book choices. Especially with the dragons, NIMH, and catwings.

Brigindo said...

I had never come across Science Verse before but it is sure to become a new favorite. I wish his website had been around when Boy was still a boy.