Thursday, February 18, 2010

I've mentioned before how much I love lists. I also love countdowns. I was a huge MTV fan back in the day and rarely missed MTV's Top 20 Countdown (this was when MTV was mostly about music, boys and girls!) or Casey Kasem's Top 40 Countdown on the weekend (remember those awful long distance dedications?).
Betsy Bird is revealing her own special countdown of the children's novels kind; after email, it's the first thing I read in the morning. I sent a list to Betsy not long before she closed the poll; several of my favorites have shown up, but I'm still waiting on the others! I'm duplicating my list here (in order of preference), along with the comments I included:

1. Because of Winn Dixie

Kate DiCamillo has, of course, written many beautiful books since Because of Winn Dixie, but this remains my all-time favorite DiCamillo story. Having reread it several times since I first read it four years ago (and not being one to reread books, for the most part), it never fails to bring me to both laughter and tears, particularly during the search for Winn Dixie.

2. Ramona and Her Father

I knew I had to include a Ramona book, but which one? Perhaps this one is on my mind since it’s one of my favorite “Christmas books.” Not a Christmas book per se, but since it does begin with Ramona making her Christmas list and ends with the girls’ Nativity pageant, I always recommend it for those looking for Christmas chapter books. Although first published in 1977, the shock and upheaval of Mr. Quimby’s unemployment is still very relevant for today.

3. Babe, the Gallant Pig
I don’t know if this will even make the poll, but I must mention it! I’ve never read it aloud, but I think it would make for a great (short) read aloud. The humor is abundant, the pathos is real but not pushed, and the ending is perfection.

4. A Drowned Maiden’s Hair
I believe I learned about this book from your blog, Betsy. I now adore it, and recommend it whenever possible.

5. Our Only May Amelia
Whenever I get a historical fiction request, I recommend A Drowned Maiden’s Hair and Our Only May Amelia, in the hopes that the child will a) see that historical fiction reads need not be dull and b) seek out other books by these two fantastic authors.

(I've since found out, through exchanging tweets with Jennifer Holm, that she's writing a sequel! Woo hoo!)

6. Ginger Pye
I think this book has been forgotten, and I try to recommend it to fans of dog stories whenever possible. It’s a sweet and gentle story.

7. Shiloh
One of my Newbery favorites. It can be rough reading (emotionally) at times, but I think it’s remarkable. The sequels are fine, but this one is the best.

8. The Great Gilly Hopkins
Many say that Bridge to Terabithia is their favorite Katherine Paterson book, but this one is my #1 favorite. Although you wish that things would have turned out differently for Gilly, you appreciate Paterson’s honesty.

9. All-of-a-Kind Family
Charming without being cloying. One of my favorites.

10. Striped Ice Cream
I know this book has been forgotten, but I reread it every now and then. It’s a loving portrayal of a poverty-stricken family, written with realism, sensitivity, and humor.

So far, All-of-a-Kind Family, The Great Gilly Hopkins, and Ramona and Her Father have made the bottom 50 of the list. I'd like to see the others, but I really doubt we'll see Striped Ice Cream on the list, which is too bad. Betsy's doing an outstanding job commenting on the results; do yourself a favor and read the results!

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