Question of the Month: Children’s Books

by Susan Henderson on February 2, 2009

What are your favorite children’s books? And what do you love about them?

Wednesday, painter and children’s book author, Belle Yang, will be here. She’s a remarkable woman, and I’m excited for you to meet her. Be sure to stop by and say hello!

{ 103 comments… read them below or add one }

djtuffpuppy February 1, 2009 at 11:19 pm

My favorite children’s book is one that I remember reading in Kindergarten. Miss Nelson is Missing by Harry G. Allard and James Marshall. I also was a big fan of the Where’s Waldo? books.


Kimberly February 2, 2009 at 4:02 am

How to pick just one? What a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad question!!!

Authors are easier: Shel Silverstein, Dr. Seuss, Judy Blume, Beverly Cleary, C.S. Lewis, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Maurice Sendak, Roald Dahl and Madeline L’engle are the immediate faves that spring to mind.

And a couple of stand-alones: From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler (I can’t even tell you how many times I read that), Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, Charlotte’s Web, Grimm’s fairy tales and I was OBSESSED with Greek myths for a while there.

(And as for children’s books I read as an adult: Lemony Snicket and JK Rowling were a pure delight. Probably Lemony Snicket more than JK for me – because he is so enjoyable on so many more levels…)

I was rarely without my nose in a book from a very early age, and I guess the common denominator in all of them was that I was a sucker for either a good story or brilliant wordplay – illustrations (with the exception of Sendak) never really did it for me. I just loved getting lost in other peoples’ worlds. Still haven’t broken the habit, I guess.


Nathalie February 2, 2009 at 4:26 am

Illustrations. I do not have children so should have no reason to buy children’s book but for the marvelous illustrations.
As a kid, I read a lot of fairy tales and mythology stories.


SusanHenderson February 2, 2009 at 8:05 am

I don’t know the Allard book so let me link it here: (the illustrator sure reminds me of the Lyle Lyle Crocodile books)

Where’s Waldo – great for car rides!


SusanHenderson February 2, 2009 at 8:10 am

Ooh, such a good list, and for different reasons! Judy Blume was the one we always snuck from the library because she told all the secrets you wanted to know. And Dr. Seuss made you love words and rhythm – and like a champion if you could read the tweetle beetles out loud with no mistakes. And Grimm cuz you could go oh so dark and see the wickedest things that could happen to children. And I love Roald Dahl like mad.

Has anyone seen the Shel Silverstein slam in the newest Diary of a Wimpy Kid? I laughed so hard.


SusanHenderson February 2, 2009 at 8:10 am

Who are your favorite illustrators, Nathalie? Which books?


glecharles February 2, 2009 at 10:12 am

I still have fond memories of the Encyclopedia Brown series, and Where the Wild Things Are is a classic, but I’ve discovered some new favorites via my kids’ reading, including Planting a Rainbow, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom and Knuffle Bunny.


Juliet February 2, 2009 at 10:16 am

The Velveteen Rabbit, by far, made my childhood complete.
The Giving Tree still has a place beside my bed and has had many readings.
Pipi Longstocking. No need to explain.
Judy Blume anything…

As a parent, I think the most read books in our house for bedtime and snuggling have been
Love You Forever (Robert Munsch) and the wonderful book Momma, Do You Love Me? by Barbara M. Joosse and of course, Mortimer, Be Quiet! (Robert Munsch).

But the most heartbreaking book of all, as a parent, was I Promise I’ll Find You. A portion of the royalties is given to various child-search agencies.


SusanHenderson February 2, 2009 at 10:22 am

Hey! Great to have you here.

Did you know Dave Eggers and Spike Jonze are making Where the Wild Things Are into a movie? I can’t imagine how they can pull it off, but I’m definitely interested.

A friend of mine wrote a very funny parody series based on Encyclopedia Brown and was threatened with a huge lawsuit right before publication. So, nada. But here’s a link to what might have been:


SusanHenderson February 2, 2009 at 10:25 am

I’m just realizing (with horror!) that I never read The Velveteen Rabbit to my kids. I’m correcting that immediately.

And let me link The Giving Tree, too. Love it:

You guys already know I’m a huge, huge Pippi fan, and my 11-year-old recently admitted it’s still the best book he’s ever read.


SusanHenderson February 2, 2009 at 10:31 am

And WOW, what a great blog you have, Guy.

Check it out, everyone:


Aurelio February 2, 2009 at 10:42 am

I learned to read from all the Dr. Suess books (I was in his book club), so those are memorable, but the book I wore out was “The Golden Books Family Treasury of Poetry.” Joan Walsh Anglund illustrated it, and it’s still available on Amazon. Our Dad used to read to us from it until we learned to read on our own. If you have kids, I highly recommend it.


Joe February 2, 2009 at 10:58 am

No one has mentioned Cormack McCarthy yet so I’ll throw that one out there.

Just kidding.

It is a very difficult question because children’s books encompass such a wide range of topics and age groups. Early on kids seem to go for books that categorize the familiar, repeat and rhyme and soothe. Then as time goes on the boundaries stretch and reality warps.

All great books and authors listed already. My pick for individual books with the most staying power over time (for tots cause I got one of them) would be – Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown, Are You My Mother? by PD Eastman, Green Eggs & Ham by Dr. Seuss and Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak… my favorite illustrator. I loved Sendak’s illustrations for “In The Night Kitchen” where all the chef’s look like Oliver Hardey. Freaky.

We have E. B. White, Shel Silverstein, Madeleine L’Engle, Lloyd Alexander, CS Lewis, Louise Fitzhugh etc. on the bookshelf for later.

For me, the best children’s stories include some disturbing undertone that says, “The world isn’t always as it seems to be on the surface. Look deeper. There’s more!” Strange associations or a different perspective on the seemingly ordinary because that’s the way a kids mind works. It’s all new, this processing of information. Remember being a kid and wondering if everyone saw green as green or if maybe they saw what you thought of as red when they looked at a tree?

So that coat draped over a chair just might be a gorilla waiting till you go to sleep to steal your shoes to go tap dancing. Who knows? Could happen.

When I’m not just winging it at story time, the current favorite in our house is Mo Willems and his Pigeon books. You might be more familiar with his work on Sesame Street as the creator of the Suzie Kabloozie segments voiced by Ruth Buzzi. He’s seriously disturbed.


Nathalie February 2, 2009 at 11:00 am

That would be a long list, Susan, there are so many of them (and they are not all in my bookshelves either).

I’ll give you two French names: Rébecca Dautremer ( or Frédéric Clément (, which you might have heard of or (most likely) not. Likewise I do not know how well known are the excellent Czech illustrators, but I used to love Zdeněk Miler when I was a kid, and I know that his mole was a big hit world wide.(there seems to be a huge tradition for illustration in the Czech Republic).
Dave Mc Kean and Nick Bantock, I am sure you will have heard of (and seen art from). I would have love them as a kid. I just read “the Dangerous Alphabet” and Gris Grimly would have been a hit too.

As for the stories themselves there was a collection I was fond of which was doing mythology of various cultures. Roman, Greek and Egyptian were easily found everywhere, “Contes et Légendes” went into more exotic civilizations (I always loved the Chinese and Japanese one). I’ve just looked on The collection still exists.

My parent loved art and also bought art books that were illustrations of fairy tales. Korean old tales with had old stamps in them.Or Homer’s Odyssey with paintings looking like those on Greek Vases for instance. So you did not only get into a story but inside a picture.


Juliet February 2, 2009 at 12:39 pm

Oh! I must add “The Secret Garden” and, being Canadian, The Green Gables stories.


carmelovalone February 2, 2009 at 12:41 pm

Good question Susan –

My book would have to be kind of an odd duck, “The Phantom Tollbooth” by Norton Juster. It’s safe to say that the Phantom Tollbooth nearly saved my life on many levels i.e. it was a real imagination kicker, and it jarred many levels of my imagination loose.



JamesRSpring February 2, 2009 at 12:43 pm

It’s not even close.

“Oh, The Places You’ll Go!”

Dr. Seuss at his inspiring best.

My daughter loves this book.

I also like to read The Alchemist to her, but I don’t know that it captures her so much as it just allows her to stay awake later…

Another finalist: Harold and the Purple Crayon


SusanHenderson February 2, 2009 at 12:46 pm

I’ve been working on chapter 4 of the new book all morning and stopped for a lunch break. But when I saw how gorgeous it was outside, I decided to take a walk instead. Februarys in NY are not usually like this – what a day!

Okay, let me read your comments now. I’m so glad you’re all here!


SusanHenderson February 2, 2009 at 12:50 pm

Oh, yeah, The Secret Garden was one of the first real wake-up books for me. Our 4rth grade teacher read it to us, one chapter a day, and I was out of my mind thrilled with the wall and the key and the crying down the hallway and all the secrets and friendships.

It’s funny, when I reread that book to my kids, I was surprised by the racism towards Indians. That didn’t register for me when I was a kid, but I sure had to backtrack and give a lot of cultural context for the story with my boys. They got it. They got the magic of the book, too.


SusanHenderson February 2, 2009 at 12:53 pm
SusanHenderson February 2, 2009 at 12:59 pm

I was just last week going through a bookstore and reading every last line of Cormac McCarthy’s books, wondering how he does that, and hoping I could grand-slam the ending to my book in that same way.

What a great list of utter classics! (My older son was such a huge Lloyd Alexander fan.) And interesting, I think I also liked to step into a world spookier and deeper than people talked about. I still think there’s no scarier story than Hansel and Gretel. Remember that PC movement about 15 years ago when people started nicening up fairy tales and creating Hallmark card stories out of them?

Cool Mo Willems site here:


Juliet February 2, 2009 at 1:00 pm

Oh my land! I’d forgotten that!


SusanHenderson February 2, 2009 at 1:03 pm

Oh, the Mountains of Ignorance! That book was such a charge to the imagination and the moral compass, wasn’t it? Here, I’m going to link it:


SusanHenderson February 2, 2009 at 1:06 pm

Harold ROCKS!

Who wrote The Alchemist? That’s not ringing a bell. I used to babysit a little girl and I read her The Tell Tale Heart at night. I wonder how she is now?


SusanHenderson February 2, 2009 at 1:13 pm

Wow, you can get lost in those links – in the best way!

I love hearing how your experience of stories is intricately wound up in visuals. From the very beginning you’ve been both a writer and an artist, I see.

Let me link this cool cover:


SusanHenderson February 2, 2009 at 1:16 pm

Yeah, but no way will I keep my kids from great literature for that. I like them to see the whole world and hear all its voices. Just requires a little more discussion… all good.


carmelovalone February 2, 2009 at 1:16 pm

Thanks! I will mention to be careful of the ‘doldrums’…..


Nathalie February 2, 2009 at 1:25 pm

I grew up in a house where the walls where covered in books and art. There was no other way.


SusanHenderson February 2, 2009 at 1:31 pm

That’s wonderful.

I doubt this news has made it oversees, but Quincy Jones has been sending around a petition to get Obama to appoint a Secretary of Culture, and there’s been (surprise, surprise) very enthusiastic support from one side and very, well, let’s just say NOT from the other.

Okay, I better get back to work if I’m going to meet my writing goal for the day…


JamesRSpring February 2, 2009 at 1:32 pm

The Alchemist was written by Paolo Coelho… It is the best kids’ fable that was ever not written for kids, but for which parents feel better about themselves for having bought it…


IsaacSweeney February 2, 2009 at 1:46 pm

Anything by Dr. Seuss is great.

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein is one of the saddest and most touching books ever.


maria February 2, 2009 at 2:44 pm

This is my absolute favorite children’s book, one of those early consciousness-shapers, for sure. It’s not as popular as it should be, either, and I’ve never understood why. My husband loves it as much as I do; our dog is named Milo in honor of it.

[Semi-related tangent: my husband went to grade school with Liv Tyler–back then she was called Liv Rundgren–and (corroborated) rumor has it that she had a little crush on him back in the day. Sometime along the way, they were in a school production of the Phantom Tollbooth together. Flash forward 20-ish years, Liv names her baby Milo… just like our dog (!!). Needless to say, my sweetie has attributed this odd coincidence to the fact that she’s still feelin’ the love for him.]


JimT February 2, 2009 at 3:56 pm

I didn’t read many books (other than comic books) until fifth or sixth grade. I remember books of Bible stories as a young child and Grimm’s Fairy Tales. Also a few classics like Heidi and Black Beauty and Treasure Island a few years later. And there were the sports book, biographies for kids of big name baseball and football heroes. But the books that really got me hooked on reading were the Penrod books by Booth Tarkington, tattered and old and dusty books in the town library. These were followed quickly by Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn and everything by Mark Twain I could get my hands on.


SusanHenderson February 2, 2009 at 5:02 pm

Thanks for the new comments, everyone! I have to cook dinner, read to my kids, feed dogs, etc, but I’ll be back later this evening to respond to individual comments. In the meantime, play on, and tell any friends you think would enjoy being in on the conversation. You don’t have to be a writer to play at LitPark, only someone who loves to read.


SusanHenderson February 2, 2009 at 7:13 pm

Ooh, I love tangents, especially when there’s gossip involved!


Shelley February 2, 2009 at 7:16 pm

When I was a kid, I too loved Dr. Suess, who mentioned in an interview that he drew the pictures first and then added the words and story line after. Other childhood favorites; Go Dog Go; Peter Pan; Amelia Bedilia, (with her misunderstood instructions that subsequently led to puns and her talent for baking lemon meringue pie that saved her job); Which Witch; The Door to Outerspace (I can’t remember the name, but this was a sci fi book for third graders); Barbie at Summer Camp; The Musicians from Bremen; 2001 Arabian Nights; Alice in Wonderland. I read in the dark with only a flashlight into the night.


SusanHenderson February 2, 2009 at 7:16 pm
SusanHenderson February 2, 2009 at 7:17 pm

Glad to have you here, Isaac. And perfect description of The Giving Tree.


SusanHenderson February 2, 2009 at 7:18 pm

I love knowing that one of the best literary voices of our time was a comic book junkie. Just awesome!


SusanHenderson February 2, 2009 at 7:21 pm

To the tree! To the tree! I love that book, too. And speaking of trees, there’s a great Berenstein Bears go into a spooky tree book – it’s surprisingly good.

Too funny about Barbie at Summer Camp. I’m glad you added that to the list.


Shelley February 2, 2009 at 7:26 pm

I just could hardly wait to attend such a party on top of the tree!!!! I’ll look for the Berenstein Bears tree book, thanks for the suggestion.

Yes, and the Barbie book probably shaped my sexuality today! Heh heh.

Are you onto writing a new book now?


robinslick February 3, 2009 at 5:50 am

I’m late to the party so you’ve already covered my favorites – Go Dog Go I think I read to Julie and Eric, oh, maybe 10,000 times.
“–Do you like my hat?
–No, I do not.
–Good-bye again.

And Shel Silverstein – oh how I love him. Did anyone mention The Giving Tree? That should be required yearly reading for all ages…

Finally, I have to plug my pal, Steve Augarde here, for his Various trilogy. If you like Harry Potter or Neil Gaiman’s books for kids…though they really can’t be compared other than the magical element…hmm, no, that’s not quite true, he’s a master story teller so they do have more than a little in common…Steve is your man, and he does his own brilliant illustrations as well. The books are really quite extraordinary and like Harry Potter, are also for adults and carry all kinds of subtle innuendo. He’s won some impressive awards but is much more well known in the UK.


SusanHenderson February 3, 2009 at 8:29 am

Perfect quote!

Steve’s covers are gorgeous. Here, let me link the books:,%20Steve/202-7085714-7334239

(You going March 10th?)


SusanHenderson February 3, 2009 at 8:33 am


Here’s the spooky tree book – my kids LOVED and memorized it:

And yes, I’m absolutely on fire with the new book. I’ll share more once I know for sure it will work. You?


jessicaK February 3, 2009 at 10:25 am

JamesR-I’m with you on Oh, The Places You’ll Go! By Seuss–it may be for children, but I’ve read it many times as an adult. It is one of the wisest, most deceptively simple, yet deeply philosophical books about life.

Another favorite: Hurry Hurry by Edith Thatcher Hurd, pictures by Clement Hurd. I think it’s out of print. I yearned for this book and finally hunted it down a few years ago. Got a copy online. The used library edition has a stamp: Pleasant Hill Public Library. The cover has the same, bright orange cover that I remembered. The story is still as good, too. It’s about Miss Mugs, who is always hurrying and therefore always getting in trouble. Not until she falls into a pail of glue and is forced to slow down does she finally begin to enjoy life.

Jessica Keener


Ric February 3, 2009 at 11:12 am

Good Grief! Didn’t realize I predate Dr. Seuss.
Laura Ingalls Wilder – read them all like a zillion times – even stood in line for hours to get Garth William’s autograph – best illustrator of animals – ever.
I do recall slogging through Black Beauty – operative word here is slog.
Had a teacher read to us every day from Little Britches series by Ralph Moody – very good stuff.

And a shoutout to a local author – Copper Toed Boots, by Marguerite De Angeli – who was born and raised in my current hometown. She won a Newberry half a century ago.

For our kids, LIttle Critter books, Berenstain Bears, and later, Harry Potter.


robinslick February 3, 2009 at 11:22 am

I’m not only going on March 10…well…I don’t want to jinx it so stay tuned for more news in that regard. Ha ha – might also be in town March 7 for the Neil event…can I twist your arm for that, too?

Also, my new book will be out and I think it may be one of the 3/10 door prizes – I’ll have to doublecheck with Ms. Keener (Hi, Jess!) – yay – finally a mainstream rock music novel I can promote to people who don’t like their books wrapped in brown paper! And I am weirdly excited by what has to be the best promo ever – custom designed guitar picks I’m turning into necklaces, earrings, keychains, and well, just plain Slick picks. Sigh…turns out writing the book was the easiest part…


robinslick February 3, 2009 at 11:35 am
SusanHenderson February 3, 2009 at 11:57 am

I’d love to see Neil, but my kids are playing for The Long Island Music Hall of Fame that same day. Maybe you can talk him into canceling and then the two of you can hang with the little rock n rollers. (They’re going to debut Death on Two Legs, which they absolutely kick ass on.)

Can’t wait to see the Slick picks. I just had my dryer fixed the other day and he found a whole lot of guitar picks (etc) in some tube.


SusanHenderson February 3, 2009 at 12:01 pm

My favorite Seuss is The Lorax. Next is Tweetle Beatles!

Isn’t it great how the internet lets you find out-of-print books? Here’s Edith Thatcher Hurd:,%20Edith%20Thacher

And here’s a book I loved so much but never knew another soul who’d read it:


SusanHenderson February 3, 2009 at 12:04 pm

We were reading Little House last night – the sugar snow and the del-something dress. How cool to get Garth Wiliam’s autograph. He did Charlotte’s Web, too, I think. Maybe Stuart Little, as well?

Here’s to your local author:


LaurenBaratzLogsted February 3, 2009 at 12:41 pm

Lloyd Alexander’s Chronicles of Prydain series, Trixie Belden mysteries, and Little Women, which I’m rereading as research for a book I hope to write.


jessicaK February 3, 2009 at 12:46 pm

Talking about Purple Day on March 26 for epilepsy awareness? How about if litpark writers signed up? Writers for Purple Day is now up at and I would love this list of writer links to grow into the hundreds. All you have to do is put a Purple Day logo on your blog or website through March 26th and I’ll put your author link on the Purple Day website, which is targeted for the 50 million people who have epilepsy worldwide.

Purple Day started because 10-year old Cassidy Megan, who has epilepsy, wanted the world to know that she was a normal kid despite her condition. There’s a lot of fear, misinformation and misunderstanding about epilepsy and people are often marginalized because of it. What writer doesn’t understand that? Go to and you can see and hear Cassidy tell her tale. How can you not support her dream to take away the stigma of epilepsy? Jessica Keener


aimeepalooza February 3, 2009 at 2:54 pm

I am late. But I loved Laura Ingalls Wilder, the Ramona Quimby books, Tale of a Fourth Grade Nothing, A Little Princess, the Anastasia series, Harriet The Spy, And when I was older, Robert Cormier. After The First Death was my introduction to all things are not simply black and white, good and bad….it is an amazing book for young adults.


aimeepalooza February 3, 2009 at 2:57 pm

Also, I am a freak but I hate The Giving Tree. Call it what you will, the disregard for the tree makes me angry. The tree seems like a woman in a bad marriage.


David_Niall_Wilson February 3, 2009 at 3:07 pm

I was a big fan of the Dr. Seuss books early on … soon I graduated to Hardy Boys, Tom Swift, Nancy Drew, and the various series books. My favorite children’s books are Fox in Socks by Seuss and Runny Babbit by Shel Silverstein – mostly because of the difficulty of reading them aloud. I’m good at it, the rest of my family less so…


RnBE554 February 3, 2009 at 3:58 pm

Dr. Suess books were as my favorite child. I had (still have) a vivid imagination and I just loved the language. I always thought that the books were funny, when I became a parent I would read these books to my children. I still get a kick out of these books whenever I read them. Every year I try to catch “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas” on TV. I just love singing that song “you’re a mean one Mr. Grinch, you’ve got termites in your smile…” you know the rest 😉

Other than that I read many comic books in my younger and books about science (dinosaurs, astronomy etc.).

BTW Susan this is a great site. I must tell my daughter about it, she is really into writing, plus she’s a voracious reader. I don’t think there is a children’s book that she hasn’t read!

Keep Up The Good Work!

Ray (from CMU)


SusanHenderson February 3, 2009 at 4:38 pm

Ray! It’s so good to have you here. And yes, send your daughter, or at the very least, ask her her favorite books and come back and report them.

I’m not at all surprised a geek like you spent your childhood reading about dinosaurs and stars.

Your website’s new, right? I’ll give it a nice link on Friday. But in the meantime, let me re-link it here and encourage everyone to check it out and pass it along to anyone you think might be interested:


SusanHenderson February 3, 2009 at 4:42 pm

I think Dr. Seuss is the winner around here, and Fox in Socks is killer to read out loud. You either have it or you don’t!

Let me link Runny Babbit in case folks never read past The Giving Tree:

And Tom Swift because the covers crack me up:

(I only liked the Hardy Boys when they were on TV and cute!)


SusanHenderson February 3, 2009 at 4:43 pm

I love this list because it shows so much about you – every one of those girls was a bad-ass!


SusanHenderson February 3, 2009 at 4:44 pm

Ha! Very funny… and good point!


SusanHenderson February 3, 2009 at 4:45 pm

Great list (curious what you plan to do with Little Women!), but I’m going to list YOUR book because you are being way too humble:


SusanHenderson February 3, 2009 at 4:50 pm

Jess, I’ll do a link to this on Friday. Great cause!

If you want to get a head start, it’s generosity going both ways (my favorite thing!), then you can email Jessica the name and url of your site. And all you need to do in return is to show the epilepsy logo and link to somewhere on your site until March 26th. Did I get that right, Jess? Here’s her email: jessica at jbkeener dot com


RnBE554 February 3, 2009 at 5:35 pm

Hey u what do u mean geek?! Be careful I resemble that remark…lol!

I’ll have Alex make a post on here when she returns from Boston. She’s out with there on a school trip scouting some (GULP) colleges.

Thanks for the link! We greatly appreciate it! Our website is only 5 months old and we have an eclectic mix of stuff on there. It’s a work in progress that is ever evolving. Hopefully, over time, we will develop a traffic base that is at least 1/2 of yours ;-). We also have a blog – – that I rant on from time to time. Check it out when u get a chance and let me know what u think. BTW don’t worry about the grammar on there cause there isn’t any…lololol!!!

Ray (da GeeK)


glecharles February 3, 2009 at 5:57 pm

Eggers and Jonze are quite the pairing so it should at least be an interesting effort, even if it’s not good! I didn’t realize it was live-action, though; I’d assumed CGI…

I heard of the EB parody a while back but never saw the book itself; I’d love to check it out. Been keeping an eye out for a box set of the originals to buy my kids.

Back to your original question, for older “kids”, I’m in the middle of Inkheart and enjoying it a lot. The movie bombed but I thought it was well-done and went and bought the book right after. I haven’t gotten into Harry Potter, but Funke’s world is a lot more appealing to me.

PS: Thanks for the kudos on the site. Back at you for the impressive community you’ve built here!


glecharles February 3, 2009 at 6:03 pm

I feel the same way about The Giving Tree; it’s such a sacred cow, though, you rarely see anyone criticize it.


aimeepalooza February 3, 2009 at 6:30 pm

I was actually afraid to write that comment, sacred cow that it is. I expected people to boo me.


jessicaK February 3, 2009 at 7:15 pm

Yes! Thank you!
In doing this, I’ve been meeting writers who have kids with epilepsy or have it themselves, and I never knew.

Thank you, Susan, for your support.



Shelley February 3, 2009 at 8:47 pm

You’re on fire! Great.
I see the shape of my second novel finally and am almost finished!

I was a teen when the Berenstein Bears tree book came out in 1978, but I liked it anyway.


SusanHenderson February 3, 2009 at 9:49 pm

I agree with you about the interesting effort. And the EB book is a heartbreaker. Imagine getting so far – writing, selling, editing a book, and then having it canceled.

Did Inkheart really bomb? I’m supposed to take my kids this weekend.


SusanHenderson February 3, 2009 at 9:50 pm

All right! Take it home, Shelley!


SusanHenderson February 3, 2009 at 9:51 pm

My dog Brian had it, too.


SusanHenderson February 3, 2009 at 9:52 pm

Think you just cooked a hamburger out of that sacred cow, Aimee.


SusanHenderson February 3, 2009 at 9:53 pm

She is NOT scouting colleges.


glecharles February 3, 2009 at 10:10 pm

It only made $12m in its first two weekends, while Paul Blart and Hotel for Dogs raked in the dough. Sigh…

It’s a fun movie, though. My 8yo really enjoyed it, and I thought it was a nice ode to the power of the written word and writers themselves.


SusanHenderson February 3, 2009 at 11:25 pm

That’s a sad thing when Hotel for Dogs is raking in the dough.


SusanHenderson February 3, 2009 at 11:26 pm

The new interview’s up, everyone.


Carolyn_Burns_Bass February 4, 2009 at 12:39 pm

Something must have been very wrong with me as a child, because I found Dr. Seuss books repetitive and boring. How’s that for a revealing comment? Reading them to my children, though, I liked the silliness, the wordplay, the quirky cadence.

My favorite author as a child was Roald Dahl. CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY was my favorite book, while JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH was a second. I didn’t like storybooks, I liked books with a story.

I’m sure this is very maudlin, but my favorite children’s book is LOVE YOU FOREVER, written by Robert Munsch and illustrated by Sheila McGraw. I read it to my children over and over and still to this day, with my kids at 21 and 19, I’ll recite the phrase, “I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always. As long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be.” I buy this little book for every new mother I know.

EDITED: A great trip through kidlit, these comments.


Carolyn_Burns_Bass February 4, 2009 at 12:53 pm

Ah. Thanks for the blast to the past, CV. I also loved THE PHANTOM TOLLBOOTH as a kid. Yes. And wouldn’t it make a terrific Tim Burton flick?


Carolyn_Burns_Bass February 4, 2009 at 12:59 pm

I remember the adorable illustrations from Joan Walsh Anglund. Her little faces are so childlike, perfectly representing the innocence of childhood.


Carolyn_Burns_Bass February 4, 2009 at 1:03 pm

I PROMISE I’LL FIND YOU. Heartbreaking, indeed. I read it to my kids once, but had the awful feeling that what if something were to happen to one of my kids, in the unutterably horrible way of tragic endings, and I could not find them.


Carolyn_Burns_Bass February 4, 2009 at 1:09 pm

Oh, yeah. How these book titles draw me back. FROM THE MIXED-UP FILES OF MRS. BASIL E. FRANKWEILER. I so wanted to run away to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and made a pilgrimmage there on my first trip to NYC.


SusanHenderson February 4, 2009 at 2:10 pm

Was fun to read your comments throughout this thread.

Roald Dahl is one of those authors that makes me just ache for more. I’ve read every single one of his books, and then I’ve run out and he can’t write anymore, and I’m left with the wanting.


carmelovalone February 4, 2009 at 2:33 pm

You’re welcome! It’s funny as this book follows me around. I had jury duty today in downtown La, and the ‘Jury Clerk’ had that exact book on her desk…I started laughing uncontrollably and not one person understood why……it was quite humorous.


carmelovalone February 4, 2009 at 2:35 pm

You’re welcome! It’s funny as this book follows me around. I had jury duty today in downtown La, and the ‘Jury Clerk’ had that exact book on her desk…I started laughing uncontrollably and not one person understood why……it was quite humorous. Then that same clerk gave me the book when I asked about it.


Juliet February 4, 2009 at 2:36 pm

Oh, that’s heartbreaking.


SusanHenderson February 4, 2009 at 5:09 pm

I love that! It’s a message of some sort, I know it.


SusanHenderson February 4, 2009 at 5:11 pm

Anyone in a punchy mood and need a quick lift? You have to read Stephen King talking about some of today’s most popular writers:


belleyang February 4, 2009 at 6:47 pm

“The Wheel on the School House” by Meindert DeJong is a favorite. This little girl’s review is terrific: so I won’t reintroduce it. I was in third grade, my 2nd year of speaking and reading English. I was reading fast enough to devour this little novel set in Holland. It also contains charming ink drawings by Maurice Sendak.

When I began writing for kids, I searched for this book, and was thrilled that it was still in print and being read by generations of kids

A newer short novel, published by Candlewick Press: “Because of Winn Dixie” is outstanding. Don’t miss this one.

In the picture book category, “A Chair for My Mother” by Vera B. Williams, is lovely and tender. I was deeply moved by this tale of how a little girl saves pennies and dimes to buy her mother a comfy chair after their apartment burned down. I used go to the diner where my father worked as a busboy to pick up pennies, dimes and quarters. I knew how hard my parents worked to support our family and attend graduate school. This was during our first year and-a-half in America.


SusanHenderson February 4, 2009 at 7:25 pm

Oh, I LOVE A Chair for My Mother. And I think she also wrote the book about the cherries that was a favorite with my kids.

I’m going to look them up and link them.

Here’s the chair book:

And here’s Cherries and Cherry Pits:

Winn Dixie and Tiger Rising are wonderful books by Kate DiCamillo, but I’m partial to Despereaux:

Checking out Meindert DeJong now. I love learning about new authors!


belleyang February 4, 2009 at 10:10 pm

He was a Newberry Award-winner. I would love to have met this man, but I am afraid he is long gone.


kategray February 5, 2009 at 4:33 pm

I have to start reminding myself to check here more often!
My fave kid books, which I still read, and keep handy with the excuse that my kids may want to be read to:
We Were Tired of Living in a House (which I have mentioned before) by Liesel Moak Skorpen
Kingcup Cottage by Racey Helps (another oldie that my mom hunted down for me)
The Pippi Longstocking books, Lloyd Alexander’s Vesper Holly series, The Borrowers, Cheaper by the Dozen (my grandmother lived down the street from the real family), Dr. Seuss’ Bartholomew & the Oobleck (I always think of Calvin & Hobbes’ “Hamster Huey & the Gooey Kablooie), Mercer Mayer’s fairy tale retellings like East of the Sun, West of the Moon, anything by Tomie DePaola (who’s from my hometown), and a fun one from 1924 called A Journey to Health Land by J. Mace Andress. My all-time pick would have to be Jill Barklem’s Brambly Hedge series, though. Talk about intricate detail!


jessicaK February 5, 2009 at 6:07 pm

Robin–Yes! I had fun with Go Dog Go but now I’m thinking…favorite books that I read as a child differ from the kid books I’ve since read as an adult.

As a child–Grimm Fairy tales –my bible. I read these over and over.
I also loved a book called Beautiful Joe–anyone heard of it? It was about an abused dog–someone had clipped his ears and tale–he was runty and ugly, but when rescued from his abuser, his huge and beautiful heart won all.
Also loved a book called Prince, Champion Dog (see a trend here?)–also about a runty dog who had a huge heart and ended up winning shows, etc.
And Charlotte’s Web made me weep uncontrollably. My mother grew frightened until I told her why I was crying: the spider had died!!!
The Yearling– This also left me weeping uncontrollably in our downstairs bathroom. I locked the door so I could sob long and uninterrupted.



SusanHenderson February 5, 2009 at 9:34 pm

I’m still traumatized by Old Yeller.


SusanHenderson February 5, 2009 at 9:40 pm

What a great list! And a few I need to look up and see what they’re about.

Since you mentioned Calvin & Hobbes, I should say that we have every single one. And we also have every Tin Tin and nearly every Asterix (though a few of them are pretty rough-going and so we didn’t allow the kids to have them). I hated comics and cartoons growing up. The only comic I “got” was Mark Trail.


gaywalker February 9, 2009 at 11:41 pm

My husband and I both LOVED “Are You My Mother?” as children, but neither of us remembered that far back. Our mothers did, though, and saved our copies. They proudly brought them out when it turned out to be our daughter’s favorite book, too. She owns THREE copies: Mom’s, Dad’s and her own. Another favorite that we all loved (and that I will NEVER outgrow) is Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. I reread it whenever things are so bad I feel like I should give up and move to Australia. We could also not get enough of Bill Peet’s “Cowardly Clyde” and the word “kerpuffle” was very popular around our house for a long time. And of course, “Love You Forever” and “James and the Giant Peach” and “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” have to be on the list, and so does “The Black Stallion” and “The Wizard of Oz” and “Little Women” and the whole “Little House on the Prairie” series.

I read all of those last ones as a child, and I shared them with my daughter when she was old enough (I still had my copies). I bet I’ll be sharing them with nieces, nephews and grandchildren someday.

Thank goodness the world no longer looks so askance when adults read children’s literature. I feel like JK Rowling was largely responsible for that. Before, it seemed like they eyed you as if you had a mental problem, and you almost wanted to cover the book in a brown wrapper as if you were reading smut, LOL. Now, you can read it proudly without having to borrow a child first.


SusanHenderson February 10, 2009 at 9:23 am

Interesting. I never thought of Rowling as breaking down that barrier, but of course she did. Sometimes, there are books that get marketed as YA but are just as wonderful reads for adults – it’s just we never go to that section. My son read a book called THE GIVER in school, loved it so much he asked me to read it, and it was an incredible book.

That said, I love picture books just as much now as I did when I was a kid – one of the greatest perks of being a mom is you can delve back into that whole body of literature again. The only book I haven’t read on your list is Cowardly Clyde. Those others, I agree, are terrific. I’ll link them here: (Remember THE LONG WINTER? Yikes!) (I think my favorite Roald Dahl book is The Witches, though I absolutely love The BFG and Danny the Champion of the World, too!)


bookchook February 13, 2009 at 2:27 pm

I am comment 98, so forgive me if I missed mention of this one: The Elephant and the Bad Baby by Elfrida Vipont and illustrated by Raymond Briggs. As part of trying to spread the word on my blog about the importance of reading aloud to kids, I’m asking people to send me their favourite book to read aloud and why. This one is mine because it just rollicks along, gives the reader opportunities for individual voices and has wonderful, cumulative repetition, without ever once becoming boring.


SusanHenderson February 13, 2009 at 5:10 pm

So glad you’re here! And I agree with you 100% about the importance of reading aloud. I’m not even sure why I do because it’s an instinctive response, so I’ll be glad if you can leave your blog url so we can all see this discussion you’re having. When my son was a toddler, I remember lots of moms bragging that their kids were early readers, and that’s all fine, but I think HEARING the story fluently (not to mention the bonding time) does more to shape the brain and a child’s love of story.

Thanks for introducing me to a book that was off my radar! I know Raymond Briggs from his Snowman book:

But Elfrida Vipont is new to me. The Amazon link is disappointing:

So here’s the Alibris link:*listing*title


bookchook February 13, 2009 at 8:04 pm

I would love to leave the link and invite anyone who’s interested to explore my blog and leave a comment.

And I so agree with you, Susan. It is a very precious bonding time, but it is also a time where kids learn to love reading, where their early language skills are developed, and some of their knowledge of and attitudes to the world.


SusanHenderson February 13, 2009 at 9:07 pm
RnBE554 February 28, 2009 at 2:47 pm

Hi Sue, I’m Alex, Ray’s daughter. My favorite children’s books are Redwall by Brian Jacques and Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling. The Chamber of Secrets was not only the first Harry Potter novel that I read, but it was also one of the first fantasy novels that I had ever read. The Chamber of Secrets took me to place in my imagination that I had never explored before and gave me the topic that I write about frequently today, magic.

I enjoyed Redwall because, like The Chamber of Secrets, it was a book that I loathed to be disturbed while reading. It was also one of the only fantasy novels that I had read where ‘fantasy’ didn’t equate to magic. In Redwall, all the characters are talking animals, but there was never any mention of magic making the animals that way or of the animals using magic. Talking animals were just part of the natural order in the world of Redwall. At first, it was unclear to me as to how you could have fantasy without magic, but Brian Jacques made it perfectly clear that fantasy does not always have to include magic.

My dad’s blog:


SusanHenderson February 28, 2009 at 6:33 pm

Alex, I’m so glad to hear from you! Isn’t that the best feeling, when you’re so absorbed in a book, so far into the other world, that you can’t stand to be interrupted? I don’t know Redwall, but I’m going to link it here and then check it out:

Hooray for the next generation of writers coming up! (Especially those born of utter math-brained geeks 😉


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