This IS still a literary blog...sort of...despite the recent glut of all things maternal. So I thought it might be fun to write a little bit about some of the all-time best children's literature out there, according to moi. :)
The books I talk about in this post were simply some of my personal favorites as I was growing up and which instilled in me a love of reading. I've listed them in no particular order, though the first few are probably more appropriate for younger children. All of them were written more than half a century ago, because that's when people were writing good children's books. I really hope that these are books my own kiddies will enjoy someday.
The Tale of Peter Rabbit.
This book, written by Beatrix Potter in 1893 and published several years later, is still endearing to me. It's the story of the mischevious and disobedient Peter Rabbit, who narrowly escapes the machinations of Mr. McGregor, the gardner, when he trespasses into the garden against his mother's advice. Perhaps I have a penchant for naughty protagonists. Peter is certainly a very naughty character, but he has panache and that's why he's a favorite, I think. The illustrations in this book are beautiful and that's another thing I love about it. Peter and his sisters wear colorful human clothing and walk upright. Everything has a warmth and hominess about it.
Where the Wild Things Are
This book is definitely a classic. Written in 1963 by Maurice Sendak, it's been a favorite of children for decades. And not just children, apparently. I looked into it a bit, and discovered this book was adapted a few times to film and there was even an opera created from the story in 1980. In this story, the main character, a very mischeivious boy named Max, discovers his "wild side" in a world of his own imagining, where he rules over many strange and beautiful creatures. He revels in his power for awhile, but learns in the end that ruling a world all your own can be lonely. Finally, Max returns to his own, comfortable bedroom where a hot supper is waiting for him. It's a story about anger and youthful folly and home and nurture and there's plenty there for both children and thoughtful adults
The Giving Tree
This book, written in 1964 by the great children's writer Shel Silverstein, is probably one of his best known books. It's an endearing tale of a relationship between a boy and a tree. Throughout the young boy's life, the tree provides ever comfort for him. As the boy grows older, he asks more and more from the tree, and the day comes when the ultimate sacrifice is asked; the tree lets the boy-turned-man cut it down and use the wood to build a boat. At the end, the man has grown old. He approaches the tree, but the tree--now no more than a stump-- sadly tells him that it has no more to give. The old man replies that all he needs is to sit and relax on the tree's stump. The tree stump obliges, and man and tree share a final contentment.
The Borrowers, written by Mary Norton in 1953, was one of my childhood favorites! It's the first of a series of children's novels about tiny people who live undetected in a big person's home and covertly "borrow" things to survive. Everyday household items are transformed and re-tooled by the Clock family--Pod, Homily, and Arriety--and many adventures (and misadventures) are had throughout this series. I adored all the books! I also loved "The Littles," another very similiar series of books about little people, by John Peterson, but the Borrowers were always my favorite!
The Boxcar Children
The Boxcar Children series, written by Gertrude Chandler Warner, was the first series of "chapter books" my Mom gave us kids to read when we were old enough to read longer works. I read almost all of the books and there are more than a dozen of them! The first book introduces four children, Henry, Jesse, Violet, and Benny, orphans who escape a dangerous situation and find themselves living in an abandoned boxcar. They overcome several obstacles before they're finally reunited with their kindly legal gaurdian and grandfather, James Alden. The majority of the subsequent books are about various adventures the children and their grandfather have while on vacation or on summer break.
These are just five books I've chosen to showcase, and I know there are many more influencial children's books that I've overlooked. What were YOUR favorite childhood books? What books are your own childrens' favorites? Please share!