Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Bananas for Curious George

Don't get me wrong, I am a fan of TV and movies and my kids definitely love them too.

As a librarian, though, I feel like I should plan events that tie in with books and authors.

Since September 16th was the birthday of H.A. Rey what would be a better way to celebrate than having a Curious George Party!!




I love reading about authors and the stories behind their books.

The story of Curious George travels from Hamburg, to Rio de Janeiro, to Paris, to Lisbon, and to New York City. It involves the famed Hagenbeck Zoo in Hamburg, a wedding, bicycles, a train, Nazis, and a giraffe named Raffy.

Hans Augusta Rey spent his childhood in Hamburg, Germany near the Hagenbeck Zoo which is where he fell in love with animals and practiced drawing them.  While working in Brazil he was reunited with fellow Hamburg native, Margeret Waldstein. The two fell in love, married, and decided to settle in Paris. Hans had published several cartoons featuring a giraffe in a French newspaper and a publisher asked him to expand his ideas into a picture book.  Raffy and the Nine Monkeys (or Cecily and the Nine Monkeys in the U.S. and Great Britain) featured a small monkey named George that Hans and Margaret decided to make the main character in another book. Unfortunately, it was 1940 and springtime in Paris and the Nazis were about to invade France. Since the Reys were Jewish they decided to make their escape on two bicycles that Hans built from spare parts. The Reys rode the bicycles for four days to the Spanish border with only the clothes they were wearing, some food, and five new manuscripts one of which was Curious George. When they reached the border the Reys sold the bicycles to buy train tickets to Lisbon and from there sailed to Brazil and eventually made it to New York City, where they became celebrated children's authors.  Hans and Margaret are such an inspiring couple not only for their courage and bravery, but also for their deep and long-lasting love and creative partnership.

I know that I kind of went off on a tangent, there, but the story behind Curious George was so uplifting and fascinating I just had to share some of it.

Now on to the Curious George Party that the library held for toddlers and preschoolers.

First I handed out snacks (banana chips and chocolate animal crackers) on a big yellow hat plate which I made by hot gluing a yellow cup to a yellow plate. While the kids ate their snack I read them Curious George Vistis the Library (of course!).  After that we sang Five Little Monkeys Swinging in a Tree during which I gave each child the chance to wear my big alligator puppet and chomp a monkey.

Each child got to make a Curious George puppet to take home, which were really simple. I had all of the pieces cut out ahead of time and the kids just glued George together, gave him googly eyes, and drew on the mouth and nose. I had printed Curious George bookmarks to color and take home too.

By the time the kids finished their craft they were ready to move around so I got out balloons, hula hoops, and the brand new bubble machine that the library just purchased. The kids were so enamored with bubbles that we didn't even get to some of the games that I had planned.  We did manage to play freeze dance to the Go Bananas song by the Fresh Beat Band.

Another game that I had was toss the banana.  I had taken the tiles out of two bananagrams games and put just regular bean bags in the bananas (letting toddlers throw hard scrabble tiles would probably be a bad idea). I put hula hoops on the floor  and the kids had to try and toss the banana in the hoops.

Mostly, though, the kids just danced which was a blast for them and so much fun for the adults to watch!





Thursday, September 11, 2014

Top 100: 71-80

You know this would be a lot easier to do if I didn't keep shifting books on my list. I have not had any hateful comments yet, so maybe my top 100 chapter books isn't too out there. At least not yet, but I still have a long way to go.

80. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain

Personally, I have always preferred Tom to Huck. Since this is a list of children's chapter books, Tom Sawyer is a bit more kid appropriate than Huckleberry Finn. Tom Sawyer has humor, a hunt for buried treasure, and Injun Joe is a terrifying villain.
  
Now that I am a mom I think that Tom Sawyer appeals to me, because the character of Tom reminds me so much of my youngest son. Like Tom, my Zane is a silver-tongued little con artist who is incapable of avoiding mischief. If there was a fence to be white-washed I can imagine Zane convincing all of his friends that it would be more fun than riding a roller coaster.

For girls, Tom Sawyer may be more appealing because you have Becky Thatcher as a lead female character. True, she is a bit undeveloped in the beginning as she is just the pretty, jealous blond that is infatuated with Tom. However, Becky does prove to be pretty spunky and courageous when her and Tom are trapped in the cave.  The Actual & Truthful Adventures of Becky Thatcher by Jessica Lawson came out just a month or two ago and I thought that it was a fun spin on the Twain classic. I enjoyed how Lawson fleshed out the character of Becky Thatcher and gave her a unique voice.
There have been quite a number of movies about Tom Sawyer. Who can forget the 1973 version with Johnny Whitaker (I think he was born to play Tom Sawyer) and Jodie Foster as Becky Thatcher. I thought that Tom and Huck starring Jonathan Taylor Thomas was cute too.


79. Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret. by Judy Blume

Boys  may want to skip this review due to content that could make them uncomfortable.
The many covers of Margaret
I remember every girl in the fourth grade waiting for their turn to check this out of the school library. It was so scandalous because it talked about boobs, kissing, and periods (oh my gosh!!!). I know that I am giving away my age, but when I read this book in the 80's it was still the original 1970 version. Afterwards, I practically ran screaming to my mother to find out if I would actually have to wear a "BELT"!!! Luckily, for girls born during the current century Are You there God? It's Me, Margaret.  was updated in 2006. Instead of the dreaded "menstruation belt" Margaret gets to use the more convenient and less terrifying sanitary napkins.

All joking aside, Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret. is much deeper than a group of girls chanting "I must, I must, I must increase my bust" (sorry I had to include that line somewhere). Blume's famed coming of age tale is achingly authentic and tender. Margaret is not only navigating the ups and downs of puberty and junior high, she also feels torn between the opposing religions of her parents. Any young girl can relate to Margaret as she struggles to figure out who she is and the woman that she wants to become.

Interesting side note: Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret. is one of  the most frequently banned and/or challenged book in school libraries.  I find it sad and strange that people feel the need to protect young girls from reading about things that are actually happening to their own bodies.

78. The Cricket in Times Square by George Selden
A person would have to have a phobic fear of crickets to not think that Chester was pretty cute. Especially when he is drawn by Garth Williams, the illustrator of Charlotte's Web, Stuart Little, and all of the Little House books. This relatively short book about a little country cricket with a huge musical gift is a sweet tale of friendship with memorable characters.

If you enjoyed this book as a kid you may also remember the Chuck Jones animated version. I grew up loving the cartoons based on books that Chuck Jones made after he left Warner Brothers. My favorite was always Rikki Tikki Tavi, but The Cricket in Time Square is also magical.

77. The Twits by Roald Dahl
If you know me you are probably shocked that this is the first Roald Dahl book on this list. Well, it was hard to resist but I figured that I should try to include some other authors and books in my top 100. Not saying that you will not see some more books by Roald Dahl higher on the list.
 
How can you not love a book called The Twits in which the opening line is "What a lot of hairy-faced men there are nowadays!"  Supposedly Dahl was inspired to write The Twits because he hated beards and I would not be surprised if that were true considering his lengthy and quite repulsive description of Mr. Twit's beard. I have read this passage to my young writers club to illustrate descriptive writing. On the Roald Dahl website there is even a link to download a beard to decorate with your own bits of debris.  What else can I say? The Twits is outrageously funny in an absurd and demented kind of way which is probably why I love it so much.

One of the most wonderful thing about all of Dahl's books is that in the middle of all the zaniness he can inject profound and heartfelt emotion.  In a world where there is so much obsession with appearance The Twits contains a quote that should be on every body-conscious girl's mirror.
“if you have good thoughts, they will shine out of your face like sunbeams, and you will always look lovely” 

76. My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George
When I was growing up I loved all of The Wilderness Family movies. Am I the only one that remembers those? I remember asking my dad if we could move to the mountains like the Robinsons so I could have pet bear cubs and a raccoon. My Side of the Mountain is The Wilderness Family meets Walden junior. What exactly does that mean? Well, Sam Gribley despises living in the hustle and bustle of New York City so he absconds to the Catskill Mountains with only forty dollars, some rope, a flint and steel, and a pen knife. Sam learns how to be self-sufficient and be one with nature (that is where the Walden similarities come in, but luckily there isn't any of Thoreau's wordy philosophy).

The book is slightly implausible. How many parents would allow their child to become a backwoods survivalist all by themselves? Young readers will enjoy learning how Sam hollows out a tree to live in, makes his own clothes, and hunts for food. Also, even though he doesn't get a pet bear cub, the bond between Sam and the falcon he raises is wonderful storytelling.

Check this out.
You can watch the entire first Wilderness Family movie on you tube!!!!

75. Black Beauty by Anna Sewell
Of all the famous horse books I think that Black Beauty is my favorite because it is narrated by the horse.  Now lots of children's books feature animals as main characters, but first person narration by an animal can be tricky. It can easily read hokey, contrived, and/or too babyish for older children.  What makes Black Beauty so exceptional is that as the reader, you never doubt the authenticity of Darkie/Black Beauty/Black Auster/Jack/Blackie/Old Crony.

Maybe this isn't the best endorsement, but I bawled so many times while reading Black Beauty.  The cruelty inflicted on Black Beauty is heartrending, and the suffering of work horses in Victorian London is difficult to read about.  There were definitely tears of joy, though, when Black Beauty is reunited with Joe and gets to spend the rest of his life in comfort and safety.

74. Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink
Caddie Woodlawn is an 11 year old tomboy growing up in Wisconsin during the 1860s. Brink actually based the book on her grandmother, named Caddie Woodhouse whose family moved from Boston to a rural Wisconsin farm. The real Caddie also had two brothers named Tom and Warren. Fans of Caddie Woodlawn can visit the original home of the Woodhouse family which was moved to the Caddie Woodhouse historical park in 1970.

Yes, Caddie Woodlawn is a frontier story with a lively young heroine but don't confuse it with the Little House books; it is a unique and captivating story in its own right.  There is danger, excitement, and also lots of humor as Caddie and her brothers repeatedly find themselves in trouble.

73. The Magician's Nephew by C.S. Lewis

Most people believe that the Chronicles of Narnia begins with The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Well, if you go by the date published, The Magician's Nephew was published in 1955 which was five years after The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.  I really love that C.S. Lewis went back and wrote a prequel explaining how Aslan created Narnia, why the animals talk, where the White Witch came from, why the wardrobe leads to Narnia, and how a lamp post came to be in the center of a forest.

The lead character, Digory Kirke, is the same Professor Kirke that provides refuge to the Pevensie children during the London airstrikes of WWII. There was always that hint in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe that he knew what was going on when Lucy first claimed to have gone to a strange land. You will find yourself saying "Aaaahhh, so that is where it came from" multiple times while reading The Magician's Nephew.




72. The Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
All of the Harry Potter books are spectacular, but I particularly love The Goblet of Fire, in which Rowling expands her world of magic beyond the walls of Hogwarts . The action starts with a bang at the The Quidditch World Cup and it only gets more thrilling when the Tri-Wizard Tournament begins.  Rowling packs so many chills, thrills, plot twists, and interesting new characters that I couldn't put The Goblet of Fire down.

The resurrection of Voldemort at the end of The Goblet of Fire is also a major transition in the Harry Potter series. The first four books in the series are definitely intended for juvenile readers; they include lots of action but are also light and funny.  The death of Cedric, the grisly rebirth of Voldemort, the unmasking of Barty Crouch Jr. lead into the darker, more mature 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th novels.

71.  Ben and Me: An Astonishing Life of Benjamin Franklin by His Good Mouse Amos by Robert Lawson

I still remember my fifth grade teacher reading this book aloud to the class and then watching the cartoon version.  The book is actually a really fun way to teach kids about the life of Ben Franklin and the Revolutionary  War.  Who knew that Ben Franklin got all of his inspiration for his famous inventions from a mouse. Amos even helped write the Declaration of Independence!

Lawson also wrote Mr. Revere and I: Being an Account of Certain Episodes in the Career of Paul Revere, Esq. as Revealed by his Horse. Early American history is much more interesting when you throw talking animals into the mix.



Ok so there are 10 more books. I am going to try to get my next 10 out sooner, but I am in the midst of planning several programs so please be patient with me. I might have to start writing less on each book.





Monday, September 8, 2014

Gilmore Challenge and Freaky Friday


Whoot! It has not been quite two weeks and I finished Freaky Friday.  Actually it didn't even take me two days when I finally picked it up.(Okay actually if you only count reading time it was a few hours)  So I think it qualifies as a quick read.  Well I would like to start off by saying this is a good book I had a few moments where I was like, who is the person talking but it only took a second to figure it out.  If you are wondering if the book is anything like the movies I would say the movies are very loosely based.(though it has been awhile since I have seen the first one)  The book is mostly focused on the daughters experiences being the mom, though at the end you do get to find out what the mom has been doing as the daughter for the day.  I would say that the end is really my favorite part because the daughter (Annabel Andrews) actually answers a few of the questions you might still have, come the end of the book.  To sum it up this is a fun light hearted book, maybe targeted a little towards teenage girls but I think it is a good read for everyone.  It gets you to take a minute and think what it would be like to be someone else before you decide how easy life is for them, since we all have our problems.

Here is where it is mentioned in Gilmore Girls: Season 1, Episode 6, Rory's Birthday Parties
Rory yells at Emily for inviting all the Chilton students to her birthday party and storms off to Lorelai’s old room.


Rory: Sorry I snapped at Grandma.
Lorelai: Yeah, huh. That was a pretty Freaky Friday moment we had back there.




I think I am in the mood for romance next so I think I am going to give Love Story by Erich Segal a try  :)
Just keep reading!
Just keep reading!
Just keep reading!


Here is the link for the challenge:




Sunday, August 31, 2014

Top 100: 81-90

Wow, I feel like such a failure as a blogger. I truly intended on posting the next 10 books on my top 100 last week, but I have been busy wrapping up my Young Writers Club for the summer. I compile everyone's poems, stories, etc. into a book and print a copy for each kid that participated. Of course, everyone gave me their writing samples late so I have been madly typing and collating the past few days.

Now that I am not in a harried state of panic I can get back to blogging.

90. Socks by Beverly Cleary

Please do not tar and feather for saying this, but I have never been a huge fan of the Ramona books by Beverly Cleary. I don't know why, but I only read one Ramona book and I never had much desire to read another. Despite my lack of enthusiasm for Ramona, I adore Socks by Beverly Cleary. This sweet and funny story of a spoiled kitty who is replaced as the center of attention when his owners bring home a human baby is a great read-aloud for kids with siblings on the way. If fact, I read Socks aloud to my first two children when I was expecting my third and they loved it.


89. The Whipping Boy by Sid Fleischman

This 1987 Newbery Medal winner tells the story of Prince Horace, or as he is commonly known throughout the kingdom, Prince Brat (what could be a better name for a spoiled royal?). Jemmy is the lowly servant who, by proxy, must endure all of the prince's punishments since it is illegal to lay a hand on the heir to the thrown. As his name suggests, Prince Brat is rude, selfish, mean, lazy, and ignorant, so when he runs away he is ill equipped to navigate the world outside of the castle. Luckily, Prince Brat drags Jemmy along to rescue him when things go awry. You can probably guess that buy the conclusion of the book, Prince Brat, turns over a new leaf and makes amends to Jemmy. The ending may be pat, but Fleischman's humorous writing is not. The Whipping Boy is a riotous adventure  that is a great read for reluctant readers due to its relatively short length.


88. The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket

Let me start off by saying that Daniel Handler has the best author pseudonym ever! Also, if you have ever watched an interview you know that Handler is ridiculously, sarcastically funny (and he even plays the accordion)! The Bad Beginning is the first book in the hugely popular Series of Unfortunate Events which are the calamitous chronicles of the three Beauregard children.
 I know that it sounds rather depressing, but The Bad Beginning is so witty and Count Olaf is a wonderfully sinister villain.

 If you do not have time to read The Series of Unfortunate Events you can listen to the audiobooks. I know that I have mentioned this in a previous post, but Tim Curry does a SPECTACULAR job reading these books so even if you have read them check out the audiobooks (we have them all at the library). Here is a brief snippet of the brilliant collaboration of Curry and Handler.




87. Deadweather and Sunrise: The Chronicles of Egg Book 1 by Geoff Rodkey

Pirates, ancient treasure maps, revenge, and even a touch of romance!!! Not to mention that the main character's name is Egg and his best friend is a one handed cabin boy named Guts. For some reason this just makes the book even better for me. Geoff Rodkey may not be a household name, but he is actually the writer behind Daddy Daycare, RV, Shaggy Dog (the Tim Allen remake), and for all of those tween Disney fans, Good Luck, Charlie. It's Christmas...  Deadweather and Sunrise is the first book in The Chronicles of Egg trilogy and all three are amazing swashbuckling adventures with a good dose of humor tossed in.

86. The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau

I know what you are thinking: "Ugh, another dystopian novel following The Hunger Games craze.  Well, you would be wrong because this dystopian novel was published five years before The Hunger Games. Also, I am sure that parents will be happy to know that there are no children fighting to the death in The City of Ember. Rather the lead characters, Lina and Doon, live in a city surrounded by darkness and the lights are slowly dying. Where is the city of Ember, what lies beyond in the darkness, what will they do when there is no more food and the lights go out for good? This book is the first in a series, but The City of Ember stands on its own as a thrilling mystery.

My husband actually told me that this was a movie. It was released in 2006 and has Bill Murray and Tim Robbins in it. Who knew? I might have to see if I can interloan it.

85. The Black Stallion by Walter Farley

Another classic horse book, that I wanted to live as a kid. Honestly, I had  fantasies in which I was stranded on a desert island with Shetan. Who wouldn't, want to canter bareback down a deserted beach on a wild Arabian stallion? The Black Stallion is just a thrilling, gorgeous story.





84. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis

This is the 5th book in the Chronicles of Narnia in which Edmund, Lucy, and their cousin Eustace.  The opening line of this book has always stuck with me and I cannot help giggling a bit whenever I hear it. "There was  boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it."  Honestly, who would name their child Eustace Clarence Scrubb? Do you want them to be stuffed in a locker one day? Kidding aside, I love the introduction of Eustace, who as his name suggests, is a pompous little sniveler. Similar to Prince Brat in The Whipping Boy there is a certain satisfaction in reading how Eustace receives his comeuppance.

Also, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader brings back one of my all-time favorite Narnians, Reepicheep, the always ready to duel warrior mouse.

There are so many wonderful, exciting moments to enjoy in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, don't stop traveling to Narnia after reading The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, because you will be missing out on some sensational adventures.

83. Twerp by Mark Goldblatt

There are so many books about bullying, but Twerp by Mark Goldblatt is exceptional. Julian Twerski has been asked by his English teacher to write about the incident that earned him a week long suspension. This turns out to be easier said than done as Julian begins to write about everything but the incident. Through Julian's journal you learn that he he is not a bad kid nor is he a bully. Julian is just a kid like so many others who goes along with his friends even when he knows in his heart that it is wrong. At times humorous and others heartbreaking, Julian's story is an incredibly powerful statement about compassion, making amends, and standing up as an individual.

82. Half Magic by Edward Eager

The four siblings in Half Magic love to read fantasy stories and after one trip to the library bemoan "Why don't things like that ever happen to us?" How will react then when they discover a magic coin that grants wishes, but only by half? This book is just pure, uncomplicated fun. I especially love when they wish that the cat could talk, but since the coin only grants half wishes every other word that it says is "Meow".  There have been many covers of this book over the years, but I am a huge, huge Quentin Blake (he illustrated most of Roald Dahl;s books) fan so I prefer this one featuring his artwork.



81. Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lingdren

I once dressed up as Pippi Longstocking when we were supposed to come to school as our favorite book character. What is not to love about Pippi. She doesn't go to school, does and wears whatever she wants, has a suitcase full of gold coins, and lives with a monkey and a horse. Despite having no education, manners, or parents around Pippi is able to take care of herself, her pets, and her home all while having oodles of fun. Definitely a role model for kids that are fed up with going to school and following rules-haha!


Ok, another ten down. Hopefully it will not take me quite as long to get 71-80 posted.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Gilmore Challenge proving more challenging than I thought.


Hi everyone, First thing I want to start off with is, I'm sorry it has been a month since I posted.  Between vacations and summer in general I haven't had a lot of reading time.  I now own a copy of Carrie so I started to read it and then thought, hey that would be great to read for Halloween. :) So I think for now I am going with (what I hope) is a quick read, Freaky Friday by Mary Rodgers.  I have seen these movies too (seems to be a trend) and they were very light hearted so I think it will read very quickly so that next time I post I might actually be able to talk about a book.:)  Hope your reading is going better than mine.




Just keep reading!
Just keep reading!
Just keep reading!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Top 100 Chapter Books: 91-100


WOO HOO!! This is the Stack Report's 100th Post!

Hopefully, readers are finding this blog interesting, informative, amusing, or, at the very least, not boring.

What could be more apropos for the 100th post than a Top 100 list. I am a list person: I make lists, read lists, keep lists, check things off on lists. School Library Journal polled educators, librarians, and parents to create a list of the Top 100 Chapter Books of all time (they also did this for picture books).

I agreed with some of the selections and placements on the SLJ top 100 but, of course, every reader is unique so I disagreed with much of the list too.  Over the next few posts I will countdown my top 100 children's chapter books. Maybe you will think some of my choices are nuts (and please feel free to tell me so). My hope, though, is that you may discover some wonderful books that you have not read before.

Here are the first 10 books on my list (and when I say first I mean starting at the bottom with #100):

100.  Horton Halfpott or The Fiendish Mystery of Smugwick Manor or The Loosening of M'Lady Luggertuck's Corset by Tom Angleberger
You may recognize Angleberger as the author of the popular Origami Yoda series, and as good as those are, I think that Horton Halfpott is infinitely better.  Imagine that Roald Dahl (my hero) and Agatha Christie collaborated on a children's book. Horton Halfpott would be the result. Whimsical, funny, and devilishly clever with a delightful and eccentric array of characters. I actually met Tom Angleberger (and he was incredibly nice and a total geek like me) and asked him if he was planning on writing a sequel. He told me that he wants to, but right now there is more demand for the Origami Yoda books. Hopefully, more people will read Horton Halfpott and clamor for further adventures of this hapless hero.

99. How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell

Your kids are probably familiar with the 2006 movie, How to Eat Fried Worms, but the book was actually published in 1973.  And if you are a child of the 80s (like me) you may remember the book being made into an episode of CBS Story Break. Does anyone else remember this show? I used to absolutely love it. Anyways back to the book, which despite being published in 1973 does not read as stale or dated. All you need to do is read the title to know that this is a book that kids, especially boys who love to dare each other to do stupid and gross things, will relish. And by relish I mean  ingest all of its squirmy hilarity with delight.

98. The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams

I wasn't sure if The Velveteen Rabbit counts as a picture book or a chapter book, but I put it on the list anyways. Why? Because I still cry every time I read this page. The Velveteen Rabbit is the orginal Toy Story and every parent should read it with their child.
97. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
I am a huge fan of Neil Gaiman, who is a master of writing scary books that are not ridiculous and patronizing to younger readers. The Graveyard Book is a perfect example of this. Don't let the fact that the majority of the book is set in a graveyard and half of the characters are ghosts fool you. This book has plenty of chills, but it is also poignant with several tender, heartrending moments.




96. Bunnicula by Deborah and James Howe
Ah, another book that harkens back to my 80s childhood. The first of Howe's books narrated by Harold, the Monroe family's dog, is actually still incredibly popular. Unlike The Graveyard Book which I just mentioned, Bunnicula is more spine-tickling than-spine chilling (Yes I know how incredibly corny that sounded). After all, the supposed monster is a vampire bunny that sucks the juice out of vegetables. Harold and Chester, the family's cat, are the hilarious children's book version of The Odd Couple. Younger chapter book readers will happily devour Bunnicula and Howe's other books featuring these likable, furry heroes.


 

95. Misty of Chincoteague by Marguerite Henry
If you are a horse-obsessed tween girl Marguerite Henry is just required reading. What sets Misty of Chincoteague apart from so many other horse books, though, is the spectacular coastal setting. You can imagine being one of the Beebe children watching the wild ponies swim through the ocean waves from the island of Assateague to Chincoteague on the mainland.

94. Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
From Misty the wild pony to Shiloh the abused dog, I am really tugging at some heartstrings. I considered not including this one on my list, because mistreatment of animals is something that is hard to read about. Hello, I couldn't even finish Water for Elephants. Shiloh, though, is a beautiful story and (spoiler alert) the dog doesn't die like in every other famous dog book. This Newbery Medal winner is actually the first book in a trilogy and kids will be excited to read more about Shiloh and his boy, Marty.

93. The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier
Maybe it is a little premature to include this book on the list since it was only published in May 2014. Oh well, I absolutely loved this Victorian ghost story!  Two Irish orphans flee famine in their homeland and seek employment in England. Desperation sends them to a dreary mansion that could give the House of Usher a run for its money.  The Night Gardener is perfect for kids who love to huddle under the covers with a flashlight and a spooky book.




92. The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson
The holidays would not be complete without the Herdmans wreaking havoc at the annual Christmas pageant. The Herdmans may be wild, cigar smoking arsonists, but they can teach us all about the meaning of Christmas. I have to read this aloud with my kids every December. My kids also love the movie version, even though, the first time they watched it my son said: "This must be really old. Their phone has a cord." Nothing like having your kids make you feel like you belong in a museum.

91Chomp by Carl Hiaasen
Hoot by Hiaasen may have won a Newbery Honor, but I thought that the more recently published Chomp was better. Like most of Hiaasen's books, Chomp takes place in Florida, has an ecological/conservation angle, and teems with sarcasm and acerbic humor. Wahoo Cray (yep that is his name) works alongside his father who is an animal wrangler for television shows. When Wahoo's dad gets a job with a show called Expedition Survival, the unreality of reality television is swiftly exposed.Maybe this book appealed to me because my boys are avid watchers of Bear Grylls, but I thought that it was hilarious. I will warn you that I have had some parents be offended that Wahoo's dad says the word "bleep" (and I actually mean the word "bleep") throughout the book. I grew up in a blue collar home so I heard plenty of F-bombs and I actually found it admirable that Mitch Cray makes the effort not to swear in front of his son.


I have moved and rearranged the books on this list multiple times, but these are the first ten books on my Top 100 list. Feel free to agree, disagree, comment, whatever.  With the next ten I will try to be a bit more succinct so the post is not quite so long. It is hard for me to stop talking about books that I like.