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Current Favourites

From:   DesperateHousewife_L-W-G  (Original Message)
Sent: 9/18/2007 6:28 AM
Hopefully the title of this topic is self-explanatory. My current favourites are:

The Princess and the Pea by Lauren Child ( I reckon for approx. ages 5 - 9): This is a splendid retelling of the traditional tale in distinctive Lauren Child style (she wrote the Charlie and Lola books), but for slighty older children. The text is hilarious and works on two levels (both child and adult). The little asides in the narrative are my favourite thing and the pictures which have been photographed in a miniature theatre are absolutely delightful.

The Book About Moomin, Mymble and Little My by Tove Janson: I missed out on these books as a child and love this one now. The illustrations on each page communicate with the next via a series of holes which draw you in and rhyming text is usually a winner for me. A superbly satisfying book.

One Grain of Rice - A Mathematical Folk Tale by Demi: This book is sumptuously illustrated and quite amazing. It is literally a folk tale which cunningly investigates what you get if you keep doubling a grain of rice over 30 days. Set in India, the premise is about a clever little girl who outwits the wicked Raja, who has hoarded all the rice in the city, into giving it back to the people during a famine. All she asks for is that the people should be given one grain of rice, which is to be doubled every day for 30 days (the total sum of rice he has to give her is over one billion grains). On each page it gives you a visual image of what the amount of rice looks like in relation to containers and animals carrying it from the royal storehouses.

From:   Chibiabos83                                  Sent: 9/18/2007 6:32 AM
Michelle, I suppose I could check myself, but is the Tove Jansson book one of the recent translations by Sophie Hannah? I'm a big fan of her own books, but I've never read any of her translations, though I believe they're highly thought of.

From:   DesperateHousewife_L-W-G            Sent: 9/18/2007 6:36 AM
Indeed it is translated by Sophie Hannah (in 2001) - clever boy! The illustrations are original though (from 1952).

From:   DesperateHousewife_L-W-G            Sent: 9/18/2007 6:46 AM
Gareth, here is a little taster (btw Little My is lost).......

Among the boulders piled up high
There is no sign of Little My.
They search and search and find no trace.
The bitter wind whips Mymble's face.
Moomintroll feels extremely glum.
He wants his home, his bed, his Mum,
Where is the warm and sunny day?
Then guess what happened right away.

From:   DaiLowe                              Sent: 9/18/2007 7:49 AM
That's an easy one ~ Little Mr Poonlop's Seventh Holiday of course!  

From:   DaiLowe                              Sent: 9/18/2007 7:57 AM
The grain of rice story relates to the old legend about the guy who invented chess.  The king is so pleased with this wonderful new game that he offers the sage any reward he asks.  What he suggests is one grain of rice on the first square, two on the second and so on, doubling up on each square of the 64.  The less numerically-minded king thinks this oddly modest at first until he sees how much it will actually cost him ~ whereupon he sensibly has the smartarse mathematician beheaded.

From:   DesperateHousewife_L-W-G            Sent: 9/18/2007 8:00 AM
Yes, well if the girl had been beheaded it would have added an interesting twist.

From:   missy---6                              Sent: 9/18/2007 11:08 AM
My current favourites are Black Maria, Howl's moving castle, Castle in the Air, The ogre downstairs, witch week and Hexwood all by Diane Wynne Jones. The book of three by Lloyd Alexander, the Harry Potter books, The Hobbit and The Narnia stories.

From:   missy---6                              Sent: 9/18/2007 11:10 AM
oh and of course A little princess has been one of my favourites since I was little.

From:   maidens-blush                           Sent: 9/19/2007 5:45 AM
I loved the Little Princess too , when I was little, as well as The Secret Garden.  Recently I discovered another book by the same author called The Lost Prince, which was also excellent.

Minnow on the Saye by Phillippa Pearce is another favourite children's book of mine.  I prefer it even to Tom's Midnight Garden.  It's a nice outdoor book and has an intriguing mystery to be solved, but best of all is that P.P. is such a good writer.

From:   Ann_M5                              Sent: 9/19/2007 6:06 AM
Maiden blush, she also wrote Little Lord Fauntleroy which has been derided a bit because of the mother of the eponimous Lord keeping him in pretty velvet suits. However it is a good tale and was serialised on television a few years agao.

From:   maidens-blush                           Sent: 9/19/2007 8:23 AM
Yes, Ann, I have read Little Lord Fauntleroy.  But he was a bit too earnestly good for me!  

From:   Gino-C-Margrave                       Sent: 9/19/2007 11:02 AM
I recall seeing the 1936 film version and find IMB gives the author of the book as Frances Hodgson Burnett.

From:   HeHireDramaticJet                     Sent: 9/19/2007 12:22 PM          
I suppose that my favourite children's books are still the ones I enjoyed as a child, and which I look back upon nostalgically. But I don't think it' sall nostalgia, though: while I'm more than happy to lose myself in Treasure Island again, I am less than inclined to re-read Enid Blyton's Five on a Treasure Island which, back in my less discriminating days, I think I enjoyed just as much.

When I was about 10 or 11, I used to enjoy swashbucklers. I loved The Three Musketeers, of course (which is perhaps not a children's book: I never did work out at the time just what d'Artagnan and Milady were doing together in the dark!) , but another great favourite was The Prisoner of Zenda. Do children still read these books, I wonder? They're still in print, but I'd gyuess they're mainly read by middle-aged people like me looking back nostalgically on their own childhood.

From:   PercyBysshe3                                Sent: 9/19/2007 1:13 PM
I loved E Nesbit as a child but haven't managed to persuade my children to read any of her books.  My daughter devoured Noel Streatfield's Ballet Shoes over Christmas and has tried some more of hers but finds the language a bit old-fashioned.

From:   DesperateHousewife_L-W-G           Sent: 9/19/2007 2:37 PM
Himadri, it's a funny thing about Enid Blyton. She was undoubtledly the first author to make me imagine images in my head when I read her books as a child (i.e 'get' what reading was all about), but now, when I re-read her to my children, I am left cold.

From:   HeHireDramaticJet                        Sent: 9/19/2007 2:44 PM
Yes, it's strange, isn't it? - I too loved reading Enid Blyton as a child, but unlike many other books I enjoyed at the time, her books just don't make the trannsition into adulthood - not even as nostalgia! But I see that her books are still all in print, so presumably children nowadays still read them. And if she can get a readership across so many generations, she must have been doing something right! After all, she was writing for children - not adults.

From:   DesperateHousewife_L-W-G          Sent: 9/19/2007 2:48 PM
I agree and would defend her on the basis of appealing to children rather than adults, but then I wonder whether children are actually reading and identifying with her books now, because I don't know of any.

From:   MikeAlx                                      Sent: 9/19/2007 2:56 PM
There was a wonderful R4 programme some years back about how popular Enid Blyton was with Indian children. Apparently she shifted shedloads of books on the subcontinent. The only slight gaffe she made was when she decided to include an Indian temple in one of her mystery stories. Apparently she hadn't done her research, and put in a curious hodge-podge of Hindu, Sikh and Muslim paraphernalia, cheek-by-jowl within the same temple.
The Indian kids thought this was hilarious.

From:   saintmorrissey                            Sent: 9/21/2007 12:26 PM
My favourite children's book at the moment is 'That's Not My Monster' which has my 9month old enthralled...

From:   evil-herbivore                             Sent: 9/26/2007 8:37 AM
Echo votes for "The Little Princess" and "The Secret Garden" - fabulous childrens books. Also "The Hobbit", "The Very Hungry Caterpillar", and a more recent one: "Don't let the Pigeon Drive the Bus".
Terry Pratchett's "The Carpet People" is well worth reading as well.
I recently gave away my copy of "The Mennyms" (along with the four sequels) by Sylvia Waugh to a colleague's daughter - brilliant little series well worth looking

From:   PercyBysshe3                             Sent: 9/26/2007 9:24 AM
Anything about Hairy Maclary!

From:   DesperateHousewife_L-W-G         Sent: 9/26/2007 9:41 AM
Oohhh yes! Hairy Maclary and Schnitzel von Krum (with the very low tum) is one of my favourites (closely followed by Hairy Maclary and Zachary Quack).

From:   LatinaMagistra                            Sent: 9/26/2007 7:43 PM
The last children's book I bought (my children are 22 and nearly 20) was The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane about a china rabbit doll.  It came out last year.   Has anyone read it?  It was something akin to The Velveteen Rabbit.

From:   kitsumehime                             Sent: 11/9/2007 5:36 PM
I recently reread the first five books in Diane Duane's Young Wizard Series.  I was particularly moved by The Wizard's Dilemma.  Nita's mother may die and the only offer of help comes from The Lone Power (the personification of evil) and if she accepts it's help, she will lose her powers - a very personal description of the hard choices between good and evil that one must make in life.

From:   LatinaMagistra                            Sent: 4/29/2008 6:51 PM
I am just starting to read The Lightning Thief.  It comes highly recommended by a 13 year old boy, so I suspect I will like it.  It is based on semi-mythical themes - has anyone here read it?  The first in the series is subtitled Percy Jackson and the Olympians.

From:   Not_Smart_Just_Lucky               Sent: 5/6/2008 11:28 AM
I loved (and still do love) the Mr. Men books. First books I read.

From:   HeHireDramaticJet                      Sent: 5/6/2008 12:08 PM
I've been strongly anti- the Mr Men books ever since my daughter, then aged 5, started referring to me as Mr Grumpy....

From:   MikeAlx                                     Sent: 5/7/2008 2:13 AM
If it's any consolation, Himadri, my wife once gave me a copy of 'Mr Noisy' with every incidence of 'Mr Noisy' crossed out and replaced with 'Mike'. (I confess I do have a loud voice!)
Even painting all the trees in our street red didn't persuade her she'd picked the wrong book!  

From:   KiwiCaro1                                   Sent: 5/7/2008 2:52 AM
Early in this thread someone mentioned Hairy McLarey.  I presume everyone knows Lynley Dodd is a NZer. Do you also realise this month is the 25th anniversary of the first publication of HM?  

There is a series of books out called My Story which I like (though I haven't read many, if any; I like the idea of them and the look of them).  They are a fiction account of someone, a teenager, put into a real historical event; some of them are NZ based, but there are others from Britain and America at least, I think.  

There are also some wonderful NZ picture books by Jennifer Beck which start from a basis of something real or which could be real.  The Bantam and the Soldier is about a soldier who protects a bantam he finds.  A present from the past is about a child being given a bit of memorabilia from her grandmother and finding out its significance.  
From a bookcouncil website:  "Her book, Nobody's Dog (2005), illustrated by Lindy Fisher, was nominated in the Picture Book category of the New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults 2005 and won the Children's Choice Award, voted for by more than 30,000 children throughout New Zealand.
Working again with Lindy Fisher, Beck wrote A Present from the Past, which won an Honour Award in the Picture Book Categoryof the 2007 New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults.
Stefania's Dancing Slippers (Scholastic, 2007) is the third collaboration between Beck and Fisher. It is a story about the Polish orphans that reached New Zealand's shores in the spring of 1944."
They are beautifully produced books with heart and soul.

From:   KiwiCaro1                                  Sent: 5/8/2008 4:08 PM
And I hear today that Hairy McLarey is still printed in the Slovenian language.  Though the Swedish edition is no longer published.  

From:   Not_Smart_Just_Lucky                Sent: 5/8/2008 5:29 PM
Have you managed to tear only one page out yet, Himadri?
If you haven't read the Mr. Men, that reference will probably be lost. Oh well, it'll give you an excuse to read them...

I think illustrations are a big part of a children's book's success (apostrophes right?). A great story might be okay if a parent is reading it, but you can't beat pictures.

From:   HeHireDramaticJet                      
Sent: 5/9/2008 1:42 PM
I di actually read quite a few of those Mr Men books with my daughter, but that was many years ago, and I can't say they particularly stick in the memory. I'd guess that you're referring to a Mr Grumpy who tears out the last pages of library books, but it rings no bells, I'm sorry to say.

From:   Not_Smart_Just_Lucky                 Sent: 5/10/2008 6:23 AM
Yeah, it's a Mr. Grumpy reference alright. At the start of the story, one of his hobbies is to pick a book from his shelf and rip all of the pages out. By the end of the book however, he has meelowed so much that he only rips one page out of the books.

Personally I agree with Dan Finkelstein.

From:   LatinaMagistra                              Sent: 10/20/2008 5:55 PM
I am now in love with The Tale of Despereaux by kate DeMillo.  It is supposed to be out in film version on Dec. 19.  Cute mouse tale told in the style of the Lemony Snicket books.  Very good story.

From:   Loupgris2008                              Sent: 11/18/2008 5:58 AM
And what inspired some journalists when very young...

Personally I agree with Dan Finkelstein.

How long did it take you to colour in red all of the works mentioned?

How long did it take you to colour in red all of the works mentioned
Not long really. To copy and paste is the easy bit; it's when you edit the Reply out and move the Sent on.... to a new position that takes as much time as colouring in. Because this was a 36 message topic it took an hour for the edit and colour combined. It was a pleasure to do but thanks for asking.

From: Chibiabos83                                         Sent: 8/28/2008 12:12 PM
I wanted to like Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, I genuinely did, and the excerpt posted by the Baron in his recent literary challenge gave me reason to hope for the best, but I regret that I found it intensely irritating. The problem is mine - it just contains too much that is not to my taste. Some not-always-true generalisations follow here, but I don't like fantasy worlds (Wonderland seems a ghastly place populated by eminently dislikeable people and animals that I would never wish to visit in a million years), I don't like silliness for its own sake (Alice's growing and shrinking for no reason was just the tip of the iceberg), and I don't like whimsy or nonsense (always a bad starting point for reading this author).

Lewis Carroll was clearly blessed with a prodigious imagination, but there was far too much of it for me - from the very start of the book each idea comes fast on the heels of the previous one, as a result of which I felt like I was tripping over myself and unable to get into the book until several chapters in when things had got more settled. The episodes I enjoyed most tended to be the calmer ones, particularly the Mock Turtle and Gryphon's reminiscences of their schooldays. The tea party also amused me, though I found Carroll's wordplay, here and elsewhere, while clever and often bordering on funny, eventually came across as flippant through its sheer persistence. On top of this all, a stumbling block I found insurmountable was the character of Alice - annoying, opinionated and deeply boring. I wouldn't relish spending more than five minutes in her company in real life. Oh dear, I think I've located one of my blind spots, haven't I? In the book's defence, Tenniel's illustrations are charming, particularly those of Alice, who looks a bit gothy around the eyes at times (nice). I'm sure there are people who come to Alice as adults and love it and appreciate it for what it is, and I have asked myself whether it would mean something to me now if I had read it as a child, but there was something even at an early age that told me I wouldn't like it and that it wasn't my cup of tea, which instinct has been proved right.

I searched in vain on Amazon for an amateur review that might express some of these feelings, but it seems I am more or less alone in the world - others see the Alice books as "profoundly penetrating statements, or summaries, of the human condition" with a "unique ability to transport even the most cynical reader into an extraordinary realm of nonsense". I'm sorry, though not unbearably so, that none of this was conveyed to me. I simply find that, as with his poetry, a little Lewis Carroll goes a long way, and even a very little is too much for me. I won't be going through the looking-glass.

From: Evie_again                                             Sent: 8/28/2008 1:15 PM
I read it as an adult - about your age, probably - for the first time, and couldn't believe how wonderful it was. But then I love nonsense.
I think it's genius, but I can't believe you are alone in your response.

From: Jen M                                                     Sent: 8/28/2008 1:15 PM
Chibiabos - I re-read Alice's Adventures in Wonderland when my children were small, and thought it seemed like a nightmare, which hadn't occurred to me when I read it at age 9 or so.

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