Children's Books

So I decided to compile a list of five six (this list can go on forever!) eight essential books and/or authors that I believe are some (but definitely not all) of the best children books out there. The list is not in order of best to least, they're all awesome! I apologize for the extremley long post...

1) The author  Eva Ibbotson has written fantastic books about ghosts, witches, wizards, magic, and the sort because "they are just like people but more madder and more interesting" - including Which Witch?, Island of the Aunts, Not Just a Witch, Dial-a-Ghost, Journey to the River Sea, Secret of Platform 13, and on and on...

2)  The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster is a classic "children's adventure novel" and "modern fairy tale." The book has been made into a movie, The Phantom Tollbooth, and is a critically acclaimed novel "So many things are possible just as long as you don't know they're impossible."

3)  Shel Silverstein's poems - my favorite. My copy of Where the Sidewalk Ends has been read so often that it is falling apart! Pages 39 (Me and My Giant) to 146 (If the World Was Crazy) are no longer attached to the binding, however much I try. My favorite Silverstein poem is "Come In!" (see Welcome, my first blog post). Some of his other books include Falling Up, A Light in the Attic, The Giving Tree (which I think I've read in English, Spanish, and Hebrew at different points)

4) The Magic Tree House Series by Mary Pope Osborne. Magic Tree House Boxed Set, Books 1-4 is the place to start, and once you begin reading, as my little brother will attest to, you just want to keep going! The adventures of Jack and Annie are entertaining and interesting, and they throw some history lessons (albeit unnoticed by the children reading them) into the mix.

5) Andrew Clements' books; Frindle, The School Story, The Landry News, The Report Card, being my favorites.  They all revolve around school, so the age-range Clements is aiming for can really identify with the main characters.


Alice I Have Been

"Part love story, part literary mystery, Melanie Benajmin's spellbinding historical novel leads readers on an unforgettable journey down the rabbit hole, to tell the story of a woman whose own life became the stuff of legend." This captivating novel tells the story of Alice in Wonderland, as narrated by Alice herself. It never tells the story of the story we all know and love by Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland, but it tells the story behind it. I know I say this about a lot of books, but this story was so mesmerizing that I could not put it down! It's a bit of a slow start, but it builds up quickly. The story brings you full circle, beginning with Alice at 81 reminiscing on her childhood. I have to say, I think this is the most clever adaptation of the story of Alice that I have ever read or seen. Throughout the entire novel, there was a little voice in the back of my head asking, did this really happen? And apparently, I wasn't the only one thinking that. In the back of the novel, there is a section where Melanie Benjamin answers just that, and I was surprised and happy with the answer (yes! some of it is real!) but I won't go into specifics, not wanting to spoil you. There have been many additions to Alice's story - Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll (actually a pseudonym for a Charles Dodgson, an Oxford professor of mathematics), the movie that came out in 2010 (starring Johnny Depp and and Mia Waslkowska), Alice in Wonderland, that shows Alice returning to Wonderland (it's on Netflix Instant, for those of you who wish to watch it) , and of course, the disney version of the story - Alice in Wonderland. After reading the novel (which I hope you do), look at this picture (it is the one Mr. Dodgson refers to often - it is Alice as his "wild child"). This is also a great book club book - as the reviews on the back proclaim. I hope you enjoy this amazing story of Alice as much as I did. Rating: ★★★★★



Definitely one of the more disturbing books I've read, Room tells the story of Jack, a 5-year-old, living in an 11 foot by 11 foot Room, with his Ma. Room is Jack's home, and Ma's prison. It's where she has been trapped for seven years. Told from Jack's point of view, you cannot put down this book once you start. However disgusting it was at parts, it was impossible for me to tear my eyes off the page. The story of Jack and Ma is horrible - Ma was kidnapped off the streets at 19 and forced to live in Room (a shed in her captor's backyard) and be a sex slave for 7 years, giving birth to two children, but only one survived. Jack, though, has no idea anything is wrong. To him, anything outside the walls of Room, "Outer Space" as he calls it, isn't real. It simply doesn't exist. Ma has created this world for him, but it will only keep him for so long. I don't want to give anything else away, but I highly recommend reading this ONLY if you can read heavy material that is the topic of Room. At first, I was reluctant to read Room for fear of looking at something as horrible and obscene as kidnapping and rape through the eyes of a little kid. I didn't know what to expect, and I thought the child wouldn't be able to understand what was going on therefore I would be confused on what was happening. These thoughts were immediately dispelled when I began reading. While this is definitely not a novel I would read again and again, it is definitley one I'm glad I read, and I hope you will be too. Rating: ★★★★

Into The Wild

The story of Chris McCandless, a 24-year-old who hiked into the Alaskan Wilderness, hoping to go to a place where there's a "blank on the map." He wanted to leave society and be alone. Unfortunatley, he was ill-equipped for surviving in the Alaskan Wilderness, and he died after four months of living in the Wilderness. McCandless' remains were found after 4 months, and weighing only 67 pounds, it is assumed he died of starvation. Author Jon Krakauer (Where Men Win Glory, Under the Banner of Heaven, Into Thin Air, to name a few) was taken by McCandless' story, and decided to share it with the world. He doesn't just simply tell what happened to Chris McCandless from the moment he entered the Alaskan Wilderness into when his body was found - that would make for a very boring journey. Instead, he expertly weaves McCandless' journey to Alaska and the people he impacted on his way there. He also draws parallels between McCandless and a few others that have gone "into the wild" completely unprepared for what lay ahead, inspired by the romantic ideals of American philosopher Henry David Thoreau. Because of this book, McCandless' journey into Alaska has faced a lot of criticism. Alaskan Park Ranger said "I am exposed continually to what I will call the 'McCandless Phenomenon.' People, nearly always young men, come to Alaska to challenge themselves against an unforgiving wilderness landscape where convenience of access and possibility of rescue are practically nonexistent...When you consider McCandless from my perspective, you quickly see that what he did wasn’t even particularly daring, just stupid, tragic, and inconsiderate. First off, he spent very little time learning how to actually live in the wild. He arrived...without even a map of the area. If he [had] had a good map he could have walked out...Essentially, Chris McCandless committed suicide." So, read Into the Wild and see if you agree with this harsh interpretation of McCandless' journey, or was it simply the "death of an innocent" who lost his way in the woods (as Krakauer puts it)? Rating: ★★★★