Thursday, February 09, 2006

Children's Literature Favourites

There’s a children’s literature meme circulating that I can’t resist. Shelly started it, and Kimbofo and Sherry have chimed in. Here are Shelly's questions, and my responses:

What are your three favourite children's series?
1. The Betsy-Tacy series by Maud Hart Lovelace.
2. The Emily series by Lucy Maud Montgomery.
3. The Melendy series by Elizabeth Enright.

What are your three favourite non-series children's books?
1. Fifteen by Beverly Cleary.
2. The Blue Castle by Lucy Maud Montgomery.
3. Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh (I know there were sequels, but I don’t really remember them, so I’m counting Harriet the Spy as a stand-alone).

What are your three favourite children's book characters?
1. Mary Poppins (from P.L. Travers’ books).
2. Pippi Longstocking (from Astrid Lindgren’s books).
3. Katie John (from Mary Calhoun’s books).

I had a great deal of trouble narrowing my lists down to three in each category. I tried to make things easier by restricting myself to books I first read as a child but even then I had to leave out many much-loved books, especially in the children’s series category. What about Enid Blyton’s Malory Towers books? Or L. Frank Baum’s Oz books? Or Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House books? And all those books that I loved by E. Nesbit, and Noel Streatfeild, and Catherine Woolley? And how could I include Beverly Cleary’s Fifteen among my top three stand-alones, but not include The Luckiest Girl?

If I added in all the fabulous children’s books that I first read as an adult, the task would be downright impossible. There is a whole realm of books that were available when I was a child but that I somehow missed until later. If I counted the best of those, I’d have to add Lloyd Alexander’s Prydain chronicles, Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising series, Edward Eager’s Tales of Magic, Alberta Constant’s books about the Miller girls, and pretty much everything Madeleine L'Engle wrote to my list of favourite series. And Dodie Smith’s I Capture the Castle would unquestionably make my list of top three stand-alones.

And then there are all the great contemporary children’s books that I’ve encountered more recently. Some highlights there would include: J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, The Wee Free Men and A Hat Full of Sky by Terry Pratchett, Journey to the River Sea and The Star of Kazan by Eva Ibbotson, Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne-Jones, and Sorcery and Cecelia by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer.

All that, and I’ve barely even touched on the YA category. But I’ll stop there for now. Suffice it to say that I’m a fan of good children’s literature.

What are your favourites?

Many bloggers have chimed in on this one. The list of participants reads like a who’s who of some of the best children’s literature blogs out there. Click over to see the responses posted at Big A little a, Chicken Spaghetti, Once Upon a Story, A Chair, A Fireplace, and a Tea Cozy, and Here in the Bonny Glen, and if you’re not already familiar with them hang around to browse these blogs. Each is rich with insightful commentary on children’s books.


Shelly said...

Hi, Kate,
Thanks for playing. I enjoyed reading your answers. I, too, have a great fondness for Betsy and Tacy. :)

I know it's hard to narrow things down, but the meme revolves around 3s, but of course, there's room to expand on the topic, as you did very well.

Ella said...

Great post, Kate. I have read and enjoyed almost all your favorites, and I remember being particularly taken with Valency of "The Blue Castle".

Kelly said...

Thanks for the meme, Kate. I loved reading your favorites and have since stolen the meme for my blog :)

Susan said...

Neat list here! And thank you for the shout-out. Most kind of you!

Liz B said...

Thanks for mentioning my blog! True confessions: I have never read the Emily books. I know! And I love the Anne ones! And I can't believe that I left Madeleine L'Engle off my own list.

Kelly said...

Hi Kate:
Thanks for the meme and your kind words! Have a happy Monday :)

storymom said...

Hi Kate,

You know, I haven't read much of L.M. Montgomery's other works. I'll have to remember to put them on my reading list this year. Harriet The Spy--that's another one I'd like to read. Great list!

Thank you for the link and kindness. The meme was a lot of fun. :)