Once again, this is not this week’s topic but I am trying to avoid writing the same list over and over for different reasons. One can only sing the praises of Harry Potter and Feed so many times before everyone else gets terminally bored.
For those keeping track at home, I wrote 1,859 words today.
Boring Bert is all about the oatmeal while awesome Ernie keeps putting beautifully illustrated delicacies in the cart. This book is all about value, with food words printed on everything, and there’s even a cameo from Cookie Monster looking for the only aisle that really matters.
We had two of the orange-and-black hardcovers from this series, Paul Bunyan and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. I was always more of a Paul Bunyan fan, I especially loved the descriptions of the mess hall with ketchup trains and people skating across flapjack griddles with bacon strapped to their feet. I was also a big fan of all the stuff about the business of being a lumberjack, perhaps I was always destined to attend Humboldt. This book may have begun my love affair with typesetting, I remember loving the font.
3. Barn Dance
The ink and watercolor illustrations stick in my mind to this day, and I just really wanted to get my groove on with scarecrows and barn owls in the middle of the night. It was on Reading Rainbow, can there be any higher praise than that bestowed by LeVar Burton?
I had the astonishing misfortune to manage being both a middle kid and the oldest (all the responsibility with none of the perks!), so I always related to grumpy old Alexander. The pen-and-ink illustrations floating in big white pages underscored his grumpiness, in my mind at least.
During our once-monthly free time at GATE I always made beeline for this book. Great stories, great color lithograph illustration. Launched me on a lifelong love affair with Greek mythology, and mythology in general.
Pioneer stuff! Sugaring-off parties! Laura slaps that Little Miss Perfect, Mary! This book really has it all.
Grover was never my favorite but I read this one over and over just for that rumpled, torn page near the end with the band-aid.
It’s probably pretty obvious now that I love tall tales and Americana, and this story always pressed those buttons for me. The John Henry-esque ending is both sad and triumphant, with a trapped Mary Ann finding new life as a heater.
I got this one from a book fair, and it had one of those read-along tapes with the chimes for turning the page. Melissa’s Grandma is such a great cook that pirates abduct her and everything she owns! The crowning achievement of this book for me was the pantry raid, which the reader delivered in a fast-paced, staccato litany of the most delicious and bizarre edibles imaginable. Noodle pudding!
This was a book full of great characters, as I recall, and relationships drawn with a lot more thought and authenticity than one finds in children’s literature. The wacky friends have real parents and problems, the exasperating parents have their own exasperating parents, the love interest is more than just pretty, and the little sister isn’t just a pain in the neck. Plenty of fun too, with a schoolwide sleepover that’s both disastrous and hilarious.