Thursday, May 14, 2009

Children's Book Week

Happy Children's Book Week!

My favorite children's book store, The Red Balloon, is celebrating by hosting Rick Riordan tonight (I can't wait!).

As I'd imagine is the case with most writers, books utterly sculpted my childhood. In honor of Children's Book Week I've concocted a brew of the top ten (yee gads, the choice is painful!) texts that left an indelible mark on my soul. In light of the honorary week of kid lit, this list is exclusively children's books, though I read a lot of "adult" books as a child. I've also only listed books that I read as a child, so anything published after 1996 (I'm calling 18 years old adulthood) won't appear.

Chris Van Allsburg's oeuvre. From Jumanji to The Stranger, this genius author/illustrator's dreamscrapes made me believe in infinite worlds (im)possible.

Maurice Sendak. Be daring. Be bold. Be wild.

Susan Cooper's The Dark is Rising series. Cooper's weaving of contemporary England and Wales with Arthurian legend still inspires my writing.

Lloyd Alexander. Yes, children's fantasy can be dark. And scary. And wonderful.

Louis Sachar. Sideways Stories from Wayside School. Zany, sharp humor never fails.

Walter Farley and Marguerite Henry. Because I will always, always be the girl who loves horses.

Natalie Babbit, Tuck Everlasting. Revealed the fragility of life and the pain of immortality.

C.S. Lewis. The Chronicles of Narnia. Deftly woven, intricate worlds and fantastic, profoundly moving tales. Narnia is the kind of place you long for.

L.M. Montgomery. Anne of Green Gables. Every smart, independent young woman's role model. Bonus if you've got red hair. And wouldn't we all love Gilbert Blythe (sigh)?

J.R.R. Tolkein. The Hobbit. Now I realize I'm walking a fine line here. I wouldn't list Lord of the Rings, as I think of that series as "adult," but The Hobbit always struck me as a children's book. My family owned the hardcover text illustrated by Michael Hague. Orcs, elves, dwarves, dragons. Can't get much better than that.

That's ten? Oh horror! So many books left unnamed, but I'll stick to my limit. What children's books shaped you, or are still on your shelf, yellowed and dog-eared like mine, after so many readings?

Quote of the day from my Bikram Yoga instructor: "This is Simon Says in hell."

1 comment:

  1. Ah, great minds : ) I just mentioned Lloyd Alexander's Chronicles of Prydain in my just posted blog post. (Wow, that was a crappy sentence ... TGIF lol)