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books & reading reviews

Children’s Classics: The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe

I wasn’t sure what I was going to blog about for this month’s Children’s Classics carnival @ 5 Minutes For Books. But as I finished reading The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe last night it occurred to me that it was both a children’s book and a classic – it was simply a slightly older read than the things I’m reading to my own son who is just two years old. Still it does qualify even if I haven’t been reading it with a child (just a child at heart). I do hope to read this to MM when he gets older and I hope he enjoys this story as much as I have.

First, to be honest, I didn’t love this book as much as I’d expected to – I read The Magician’s Nephew first and liked it more – but I think that is only because The Magician’s Nephew was a new read for me – The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe is a story I already knew well, and I’d seen the movie adaptations a couple times. I have a very hard time reading a book whose movie I’ve already seen, but I did read and enjoy this book. It is possible I liked the movie more though – but really, in a book this small, it was easier I think to give more details in the movie, something that rarely happens in a book-to-movie adaptation. The length of the movie and being able to see it all unfold in front of your eyes was magical and the recent movie especially was very well done. So while I did like the book, I think I handicapped my own enjoyment by seeing the movie first.

But I love C.S. Lewis’s writing style and the book is very well written and perfect for children. I think it will be a very fun book to read aloud to my own children someday and the story is truly a classic that anyone can enjoy. I recommend both the book and the movie.

For more reviews of children’s classics, head over to 5 Minutes For Books for a list of participants.

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books & reading reviews

Children's Classics: Caldecott Winners: Where The Wild Things Are

This month’s Children’s Classics carnival theme is Caldecott Medal Winners, which are awarded primarily based on the art within the book. I actually never knew that and I think it’s a really cool distinction, as opposed to most literary awards.

Are there any children’s books you favor for their pictures especially?

I took a glance through the list of past Caldecott winners and recognized a small handful of classics, but my favorite on this list would have to be the 1964 winner, Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak.

I looked up this book on Wikipedia and learned even more about this cute story than I bargained for. I can remember reading this book as a child, but my memory of it is a bit foggy, because I’d forgotten how terrific the book was. Here is Wikipedia’s description of this classic children’s book:

The book tells the story of Max, who one evening plays around his home, “making mischief” in a wolf costume (chasing the dog with a fork, etc.). As punishment, his mother sends him to bed without supper. In his room, a mysterious, wild forest grows out of his imagination, and Max journeys to the land of the Wild Things. They are fearsome-looking monsters, but Max conquers them with a scary look and he is made the King of all Wild Things. However, he soon finds himself lonely and homesick, and he returns home to his bedroom. He finds his supper waiting for him … “And it was still hot.”

Did you know that this book was originally going to feature horses instead of monsters? “Sendak said he switched when he discovered that he could not draw horses.” I loved this book as a child and I look forward to reading it to my son soon – it is actually very high on my list of preferred Christmas presents for him. Toys, he has a plenty, but classic children’s literature is one area I think he could benefit from having more of. But them, maybe that’s just the book addict in me speaking.

Do you have a favorite book from the list of Caldecott winners? For more Caldecott winner reviews, head over to 5 Minutes For Books.

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books & reading reviews

Children’s Classics: Newbery Medal Favorites

The big topic at 5 Minutes for Books this week is Newbery Medal winners. Have you read many of the books that have won a Newbery Medal? Do awards influence which books you will or won’t read? I think for the more official awards like the Newbery or Caldecott – or even the NYT bestsellers, having that recognition would definitely influence me to read a book if I’d maybe been the fence about whether or not to read it, whereas I’ve on occasion opted not to read a book if say, Oprah has it on her book list. Some hype is worthy, some not so much.

I’ve read a good handful of the Newbery award winners, some of which are high up there on my favorite books from when I was a kid. Here are some of my favorite Newbery Award winners:

If I were to make a list of my favorite books from that time period of my life, this would likely be it, so I’d definitely recommend any of them to a young reader or an older reader. I’d be extremely excited if my children chose to read these books someday and may read them again just to brush up on the classics.

Are any of your favorite children’s books a Newbery Medal winner?

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family fun

Children’s Classics: on the wasted potential of my youth

I think I may have mentioned I love to read, and have loved reading since I was a young child. I may have mentioned my grandmother taking me to the local library, lying to me about the book limit that there wasn’t, and consequently me taking out 17 books at a time for years for no reason…

Plowing through 17 books at a go, several times a week had the potential to open me up to a world of literature. So it surprised me when I decided to participate in this month’s Children’s Classics Carnival at 5 Minutes for Books devoted to the middle reader range (8-12 years old) that I was at a loss for what book I could write about – indeed a quick search of the classics for that age range yielded a lot of, “Oh yeah, I never did read that, did I?” What happened? I can assure you, I was reading. A lot. 17 books at a time, a lot.

So what’s my excuse for being very poorly read in the 8-12 middle reader range of classic children’s literature – well I was very busy reading what I consider to be the classic children’s book series for the tween readers of my generation and beyond – that’s right, The Baby Sitter’s Club. Oh you’ve heard of them? Oh you haven’t? Regardless, yeah I read them, yeah I still own them, yeah I think the newer books are garbage. Yeah I religiously skipped the first chapter of every book after say the 3rd installment of her hundreds long series, because yeah seriously, they are ALL the SAME. Way to utilize the copy and paste button that may or may not have been available to you then (…and ohhh if it wasn’t, do I ever pity you Ann).

And when I say I own them, I mean I have a box somewhere with quite possibly 100 of them, and I refuse to sell them – my daughters may need those books someday – heck, I may want to read them again someday. And I’m certain if that day comes I won’t easily find them all again – bookstores everywhere are stocked with the most pathetic selection ever and almost always have new ugly horrible covers.

And okay, there’s a chance I won’t really read them all again. I’ve found some of those old chapter books can be painful to read as a grown up – even Nancy Drew made me want to scouge my eyes out with a spork trying to read it recently. Which is strange when I read a lot of the current middle reader books, like the Septimus Heap series by Angie Sage, the Harry Potter, the Lemony Snicket, yeah I’m up on all of that. Did the old books I devoured just suck or is there something wrong with me? Although, okay, I’ll admit I don’t re-read many books ever anyway, so there’s that. Sometimes it just sucks to already know what happens I guess.

But I loved the Baby Sitters Club. I watched the movies, I bought the merchandise, I almost never baby sat ever until I was in college, but still considered myself an avid fan. I was disappointed when I too turned 13 and found, lo and behold, I was still very much a kid, the boys were not hunky gorgeous, and I was not cool – what happened? It wasn’t until years of watching Dawsons Creek and Buffy that I caught on to the fact that we don’t like looking up to our exact selves, but older more mature versions of what we’ll never be.

And now I have no idea what I’m talking about, but just wanted to say, Baby Sitters Club – I ❤ you, and I’ll never sell you even if my husband begs, even if we have all boy children – there is still hope for grandchildren, Ann M. Martin, I will find a use for all your works yet. I thank you for entertaining me through those years, for lying to me ever so sweetly about what being 13 would really be like, and for writing so so many books – you had your work cut out for you, I know, knowing that I’d be in the following week looking for 17 new books and it took you a long, long time to start running out of steam – and by then I was ready for Janet Evanvoich. And by then I realized my grandmother had lied to me. It’s okay grandma, I forgive you.

So thank you Ann M. Martin. And goodbye (and by goodbye, I mean, I’m going to try and publish this already so I can write my NEXT brilliant post).