Archive for the ‘Sondy’s Selections’ Category

Top 100 Chapter Books Poll – Again!

Friday, April 13th, 2012

As I said last night, Betsy Bird, who writes School Library Journal’s Fuse #8 blog, is doing another Top 100 Chapter Books Poll. You have two more days to get in your votes! Anyone who loves books, do this soon! You’ll be so glad you did!

I had a terrible time limiting my list of Chapter Books to only ten. In fact, the only way I could do it at all was to take out some of my absolute favorites because part of what I love about them is the romance. Come to think of it, ALL of these choices, I read at one time or another to one or both of my boys (or my husband did). So I can safely say that all of these books are definitely children’s books. Though I can also firmly say that there are adults who will love them, too. And I’m afraid I only read half of them as a child myself.

I definitely still keep wavering with the final choices. In fact, let’s see if I make any last-minute changes as I post this list!

The Books I Believe are the Top Ten Chapter Books of All Time:

1. Anne of Green Gables, by L. M. Montgomery

I mentioned last night that I would have loved to include Emily of New Moon. But this is right. Anne is classic. Anne is the heroine who started it all. I first read this book in 10th grade, and I found it a breath of fresh air after all the adult books I’d been reading. Then, as I was in high school and college, they slowly came out with more and more of L. M. Montgomery’s books. I also own all the volumes of her journals and everything I could get my hands on of hers. My absolute favorite is The Blue Castle, but it’s actually a book for adults. Anyway, Anne Shirley is a character who comes alive.

2. Momo, by Michael Ende

I know this one won’t make the list, but I can’t let it go unrecognized. This was the first book I ordered from Book-of-the-Month Club, and it was so good, I blame it for all the other books I ended up ordering. When I moved to Germany, my first purchase was a copy of this book in the original language (German). Momo is a little girl with a gift for listening. So when gray men come and steal people’s time by convincing them to save it, Momo is the only one who can see them, because she really listens to them. This book is mythic in scope.

3. Winnie-the-Pooh, by A. A. Milne

I tell the whole story of how much I love this book in my review. Let’s just say that I remember my mother reading it to me. Then I remember reading it to my little brothers and sisters. Then, in college, I learned that one of the most fun things to do was read with a group of friends, where different people read the different voices. And finally, I got to read it to my sons, or together with my sons. Oh, and I’ve read it in German!

One of the funny things is that it reads on different levels. I remember as a child just taking the things said as perfectly reasonable and matter-of-fact that now I think are hilarious. This book is a work of genius.

I also have to mention that I brainwashed both my sons into loving these characters so that the very first characters they pretended to be were ones from Winnie-the-Pooh. In fact, my son learned early to write his own name — “P-O-O-H.” (When he called me in the night with the call, “Pi–iglet!”, I thought he’d gone too far.)

Now, to be honest, The House at Pooh Corner is a little better, since it includes Tigger. However, last time I voted for The World of Pooh in order to include both and my vote was totally wasted. I’m sure everyone who reads the list will be thinking of ALL the Pooh stories.

4. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, by C. S. Lewis

I remember at my vast old age in 7th grade sadly concluding that I was too old for the Narnia books now. (I had already read them many times.) Then I took them up again in college and found new riches. I know I will never “outgrow” them again. Of course, it does help that I’m a Christian, and love the insights about God found in Lewis’s writings. But the magic of the stories works fully, even without that. (And I appreciate that part much more as an adult than I did as a kid.)

As I said in my review, no kid who reads this book will ever look at a closet door the same way again.

5. The Hobbit, by J. R. R. Tolkien

I remember reading this book on the way to school and having to stop right when Bilbo was in the tunnel leading to the dragon’s lair. That was excruciating!

6. The Thief, by Megan Whalen Turner

When we were reading to both our kids together, my older son said we had to read this book next. I was skeptical, but by the time I finished, I was a complete fan. And it grows on me with each rereading — because I notice more clever things each time. The second book, The Queen of Attolia would be near the top of my YA list.

7. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, by J. K. Rowling

Oh, our family got hours and hours and hours of enjoyment out of these books. We read all of the first five out loud as a family, with no reading ahead. (Or as little reading ahead as we could stand.) We read books #3 and #4 on family vacations, and ended up putting off a visit to Neuschwanstein Castle because we just had to finish Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

8. A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L’Engle

This book isn’t perfect, but how it endures. I didn’t read this until I was in college. When I did, I was so grateful to the person who told me about it.

9. Pippi Longstocking, by Astrid Lindgren

This book has such childlike exuberance. Pippi is someone we’d talk about as if we knew her. (“And she sleeps with her feet on the pillow!”) This is a child-sized tall tale.

10. Half Magic, by Edward Eager

My favorite of his is Seven Day Magic, but Half Magic is more well-known, the first one I read, and a classic concept.

Oh, so do I really have to leave out so many? I wanted to include Little Britches, by Ralph Moody, Dealing with Dragons, by Patricia C. Wrede, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, by L. Frank Baum, and Black Beauty, by Anna Sewall. I hope other people include them! And the ones I decided were YA, but that I love, love, love are The Blue Sword, by Robin McKinley, The Goose Girl, by Shannon Hale, and The Witch of Blackbird Pond, by Elizabeth George Speare.

I am helping Betsy compile the results, but I am sure if I changed some answers, I’d get found out, and she would withdraw the privilege. So I will be good. Sigh.

The results will be better the more people send in their lists! So get moving on that! And I do really enjoy your comments. What would be on your list?

Top 100 Picture Books – Again!

Thursday, April 12th, 2012

I first started following Betsy Bird’s Fuse #8 blog back a few years ago, when she did the Top 100 Picture Books Poll. I didn’t start in time to contribute my votes, but I was captivated by her entertaining run down of the choices. She added web links, interesting facts, and other goodies on top of just the interesting facts of which books made the list.

I did participate in her Chapter Books poll. That time, I made the mistake of things like voting for the third Harry Potter book, since it was my favorite, and voting for The World of Pooh, because it includes both Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner. No one else thought of that, so my vote went nowhere.

Now, with her much wider audience (I think), Betsy’s doing it again! But hurry — there are only a few days left! Trust me, if you don’t send in your votes, you will wish you had.

She’s running both polls again. Once again, list your top 10 favorite Picture Books, and top 10 favorite Chapter Books. They will be given 10 points for first place, 9 points for second, and so on. Yes, this is very difficult to choose. She does suggest using the first book in a series. And I’m still having a problem with the definition of “chapter book.” Some of my favorites are rather in between. But I decided that when romance is one of my favorite things about the book, like The Blue Sword, by Robin McKinley, The Goose Girl, by Shannon Hale, and The Witch of Blackbird Pond, by Elizabeth George Speare, I’d leave those books out. I also decided to go with only one book by each author, so even though I like Emily of New Moon a little better (heresy, heresy) than Anne, I went with the more well-known, partly because I do think Anne is slightly more enduring, ground-breaking, and appealing to everyone.

However, I’m going to indulge myself by listing my favorites here on my blog. I will also post these lists at my Sondy’s Selections page.

Partly, I’m posting these to force myself to commit and choose my top ten!

The Books I Consider the Top Ten Picture Books of All Time:

1. Make Way for Ducklings, by Robert McCloskey

Okay, I’m going to go with nostalgia to decide which book to put on top. I actually remember, when I was a very little girl, hearing Captain Kangaroo read this book on television. I remember the way the camera panned over the ducks almost getting hit by the cars. I was fascinated with the book, and later we checked it out from the library. Later, I bought the book and read it many times to my sons. Best of all, when we visited the Boston Public Garden when my firstborn son was two years old, we visited the statues of Mrs. Mallard, followed by Jack, Kack, Lack, Mack, Nack, Ouack, Pack, and Quack. I took a picture of my son on Mrs. Mallard’s back, then taped that sweet picture into the front of our book.

2. Bark, George, by Jules Feiffer

This was the first book my second son could read all by himself. And since then, I’ve used it in many library story times, and it always goes over well. Always. It’s got predictability, repetition, animal sounds, expressive drawings, and lovely surprising humor.

3. Doctor DeSoto, by William Steig

Sylvester and the Magic Pebble is brilliant, but in this one, William Steig uses just the right amount of words and tells a wonderfully clever tale.

4. Millions of Cats, by Wanda Gag

More nostalgia. This one, I remember reading to myself when I was very small when we would go to my great-grandmother’s house. She had some old books in her bookcase, and I know I read this one more than once. Since then, I read it to my own sons, and I still love using it in storytime. That refrain is unforgettable, and I love getting kids to chant along with me, “Hundreds of cats, thousands of cats, millions and billions and trillions of cats!”

5. The Sneetches and Other Stories, by Dr. Seuss

This book has a perfect sample of Seuss stories. The title story has social commentary. The next story, “The Zax” is a pithy tale against stubbornness. Then for perfect Seussian word play, we’ve got “Too Many Daves.” Finally, I remember that incredible shiver of fear when I read about the pale green pants with nobody inside ‘em. Funny how I didn’t find that story completely hilarious until I was an adult.

6. The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig, by Eugene Trivizias, illustrated by Helen Oxenbury

I laughed and laughed when this book came in the mail from Children’s Book-of-the-Month Club. It’s a fairy tale parody perfectly carried out.

7. Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!, by Mo Willems

I still get a big kick out of reading the temper tantrum page.

8. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, by Bill Martin, Jr. and John Archambault, illustrated by Lois Ehlert

The best alphabet book ever. Another one that is totally fun to read aloud.

9. Are You My Mother?, by P. D. Eastman

This has everything. Different animals. A car, a plane. And all the drama and emotion of the baby bird trying to find his mother. But best of all — the Snort! I think this was one of the first books I could read. I do remember that my own mother was delighted to buy me a new book; I remember how wonderfully new and shiny it was; I remember being able to READ it; and I remember how I treasured it. [Wow. I had forgotten all this until I started writing about the book. Now that I think about it, it probably wasn't often I got a new book of my own. That may have been why the shiny new cover made such an impression. I think it was in honor of my being able to read, or else to motivate me to be able to read it. I don't think it was a birthday gift, but it was definitely a new book that my mother gave to me.]

Though I remember much more clearly my husband reading it to my oldest son. Josh was in his lap, so he couldn’t see his face. As the Snort lifted the baby bird and the baby bird realized something was happening, I saw Josh’s face begin to crumple. When my husband cried out, “You are not my mother! You are a Snort!” my son burst into tears. Later, when I read that to him, I tried to keep all emotion out of my voice at that part, to try to reduce the trauma.

10. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, by Judith Viorst

I had to include this one. It’s such a classic, all you have to say is “even in Australia” to evoke all the emotion. Truly, some days are like that. Still.

Okay, it’s getting late. So I’m going to put off my Top 10 Chapter Books until tomorrow.

Top Ten Tuesday: Books for Beginning Readers

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010

Happy Top Ten Tuesday! Today I’m going to list ten books I recommend for children just learning to read on their own. I had to stretch a little with this list, since I didn’t want to include two books by the same author, and the truth is that with my sons, I went heavy on books by the same authors. Lots of books by the authors mentioned here, not just one. So I’d love to hear from you in the comments. Which books have I forgotten?

The titles I’ve reviewed will link to the review, and the others will link to Amazon. Next week, I doubt I will get a list posted, because my divorce case is scheduled to go to court Monday and Tuesday. But the week after that, I’ll post my top ten list of beginning chapter books. Be thinking of your favorites!

Sondy’s Selections, Books for Beginning Readers

Are You Ready to Play Outside? by Mo Willems
Gerald the elephant and his friend Piggie are all ready to play outside when it begins to pour down rain. How can anyone be happy playing when it’s raining?

George and Martha, by James Marshall
There never were such good friends as the hippos George and Martha. The stories in this book are short and easy to read, but all pack a punch.

Little Bear, by Elsa Homelund Minarik, illustrated by Maurice Sendak
Little Bear’s adventures with Mother, Father, his friends, and his grandparents all reflect a child’s life.

Bink and Gollie, by Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee, illustrated by Tony Fucile
This delightful new book tells about a pair of friends who are very different, but know how to compromise.

Bread and Jam for Frances, by Russell Hoban, illustrated by Lillian Hoban
Frances doesn’t want to eat a squishy soft-boiled egg. She wants only bread and jam. When Mother decides to indulge Frances’ whims, she begins to see the appeal of variety.

Days with Frog and Toad, by Arnold Lobel
This classic set of stories about two good friends shows Frog and Toad flying a kite, telling ghost stories, cleaning house, and even being alone. These simple stories will bring a smile.

Danny and the Dinosaur, by Syd Hoff
This book takes an imaginative look at what might happen if a dinosaur came to play. (He wouldn’t be very good at hide-and-seek.)

The Cat in the Hat, by Dr. Seuss
When the Cat in the Hat comes to play, nothing is ever boring, not even reading a book with a limited, easy-to-read vocabulary.

Are You My Mother?, by P. D. Eastman
The classic tale of a baby bird looking for his mother, but finding a Snort.

Nate the Great, by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat, illustrated by Marc Simont
This is the first of a series of easy-to-read mysteries featuring Nate, the pancake-loving boy detective.

Top Ten Tuesday: Books for Ages 3-4

Monday, October 25th, 2010

It’s Top Ten Tuesday! The day when I give a list of ten recommended books in a certain category. Today’s category is books for ages 3-4. It’s more fun if others join in! Please, join in the comments with your favorite books for this age group, or better yet a link to your blog post where you list your favorites. Even if you don’t have a list of ten, I’d love to hear from you! The more the merrier!

The titles I’ve reviewed will link to the review, and the others will link to Amazon. Next week’s list will be for ages 4-5. Be thinking of your favorites!

Sondy’s Selections, Ages 3-4

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, by Bill Martin, Jr, and John Archambault, illustrated by Lois Ehlert
Rollicking sounds and rhymes have the naughty little letters of the alphabet climbing up and falling down from the coconut tree. Irresistible rhythm!

Katie Loves the Kittens, by John Himmelman
Katie is a dog who loves the new little kittens but doesn’t know how to contain her enthusiasm for them. A great twist on welcoming new members of the family.

The Lion and the Mouse, by Jerry Pinkney
This 2010 Caldecott Medal-winning picture book wordlessly tells the famous fable with lush pictures full of details your child will want to examine over and over again.

Make Way for Ducklings, by Robert McCloskey
This much-loved classic has ducklings Jack, Kack, Lack, Mack, Nack, Ouack, Pack, and Quack following their mother through Boston to get to the Public Garden, with help from kind policemen stopping traffic.

Book! Book! Book! by Deborah Bruss, illustrated by Tiphanie Beeke
The animals of the farm want something to do and go to the public library. But only the hen can get the librarian to understand what she wants.

The Three Pigs, by David Wiesner
This Caldecott Medal-winning book plays with the rules of illustration to show the three pigs escaping the wolf by fleeing from their book, and then visiting other books to find resources to build a happy ending.

Millions of Cats, by Wanda Gag
This timeless classic tells of a very old woman and a very old man who want one little cat and find millions and billions and trillions of cats.

A Porcupine Named Fluffy, by Helen Lester, illustrated by Lynn Munsinger
Poorly named Fluffy is angry when others laugh at his name – until he meets a rhino whose name is even less appropriate.

Serious Farm, by Tim Egan
Farmer Fred is too serious. The animals on his farm try to make him laugh, and don’t succeed until something happens that’s very serious to them. This book will succeed right away at making the reader laugh, child or adult.

Muncha! Muncha! Muncha! by Candace Fleming, illustrated by G. Brian Karas
A farmer goes to greater and greater lengths to keep bunnies out of his garden. Each time the bunnies get in, there’s a refrain ending with Muncha! Muncha! Muncha!

Top Ten Tuesday: Books for Toddlers

Tuesday, October 19th, 2010

It’s Top Ten Tuesday! Each week, I’m sharing my ten favorite recommendations in a given category. Last week, I listed books for babies, ages 0 to 2. This week, my list will be books for ages 2-3. I made the categories overlap so I could include more!

Again, I’ll provide links to my reviews if I’ve written one, and links to Amazon if not.

Top Ten Tuesday is more fun if others participate! Please leave a comment with your own favorite books for ages 2-3 or a link to your own blog post about it.

Next week, I’ll cover ages 3-4.

Sondy’s Selections, Ages 2-3

Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! by Mo Willems
Reading this book, the child gets to make the rules. The pigeon begs and pleads and throws a temper tantrum, but please don’t let him drive the bus!

Bark, George! by Jules Feiffer
When George tries to bark, the wrong animal sounds come out! George’s mother takes him to the vet, who finds animals inside George. Simple text gives excited anticipation as the animals get bigger and bigger.

Go, Dog. Go! by P. D. Eastman
This classic book explores colors and shapes, in and out, over and under, using dogs and cars and a big dog party at the end.
(Don’t get the board book – This is a book that should not be shortened!)

Pete’s a Pizza, by William Steig
This book is a fun excuse to play along as Pete’s father turns him into a pizza – with lots of tickling as he goes.

Go Away, Big Green Monster! by Ed Emberley
In this book, a big green monster gradually appears, using cleverly shaped cuts in the pages. Then, the reader says, “Go away!” to each scary part until the end, “And don’t come back! Until I say so!”

Toot Toot Zoom! by Phyllis Root, illustrated by Matthew Cordell
Fun sound effects abound throughout this story, as a red fox drives up a sky-high mountain and finds some friends.

Good Night, Gorilla, by Peggy Rathmann
The pictures tell the story in this book where the gorilla follows the night watchman around the zoo, unlocking the cages.

Oh, Daddy! by Bob Shea
The little hippo’s silly Daddy keeps getting everything wrong, so he has to show Daddy how to do simple tasks.

Little Quack, by Laurel Thompson, illustrated by Derek Anderson
Five little ducks, named Widdle, Waddle, Piddle, Puddle, and Little Quack are trying to get the courage to jump into the water behind their mother. Splish! Splash! Sploosh!

Llama Llama Red Pajama, by Anna Dewdney
A simple story with strong rhymes portraying night time worries calmed after Mama Llama doesn’t come back as fast as little Llama wishes.

PS: For even more fun, today, as if in honor of Top Ten Tuesday, the American Library Association announced the Teens’ Top Ten! Teens around the nation have voted on their favorite books written in 2009. Two of the books were also favorites of mine: Catching Fire, by Suzanne Collins was the Number 1 choice, and Fire, by Kristin Cashore, was Number 9. Congratulations to all the winners!

So go pick up some great books for toddlers AND for teens!

Top Ten Tuesday – Books for Babies

Tuesday, October 12th, 2010

It’s Top Ten Tuesday!

For a long time, the idea has been simmering that I should post my favorite books in different categories. I think it started when Betsy Bird of the Fuse #8 blog had her readers vote on their 10 favorite picture books, and later our 10 favorite books for middle readers.

The idea was still simmering until a couple weeks ago, when I met with a team of child care specialists as part of my new job working for the Fairfax County Office for Children, Provider Services. I wanted to be able to contribute to the team some of my experience as a children’s librarian, so they suggested that I put together lists of books for different age ranges of children, so they could give these lists to new child care providers.

Needless to say, it was a fun assignment! I made lists of my ten top choices for recommendations for children at several different age levels, with plenty of overlap. (The best books for children will be good for a wide variety of ages, so these are not hard and fast.)

So now I had several top ten lists, and I thought I’d better share them. I’ve got a new page on my main website, called Sondy’s Selections. I thought it would be even more fun if I could get other people to contribute their own top ten lists for the various categories. Since the choices are very personal, it would be nice to hear about other great books that you have enjoyed.

I’ll provide a link to Amazon for the books I haven’t reviewed yet, so you can get more information. (And if you order the book through my link, I get a small percentage.) If I’ve reviewed the book, the title link will take you to my review (which also has an Amazon link).

So, this week I’m starting with books for babies — ages 0 to 2. (Next week will be ages 2-3.) Please post in the comments your own top ten list! Or any good books for this age group that I’ve missed. Or better yet, a link to your own Top Ten Tuesday blog entry.

Here’s my first list of Sondy’s Selections:

Ages 0-2

Blue Hat, Green Hat, by Sandra Boynton
The ultimate toddler book, this board book presents colors and items of clothing – and a turkey who always gets it wrong. Oops!

Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes, by Mem Fox, illustrated by Helen Oxenbury
This sweet-as-can-be picture book celebrates the love of all babies everywhere – especially your very own baby.

Where’s Spot? by Eric Hill
A classic lift-the-flap book has Spot’s mother looking for him, but finding many other animals.

Dear Zoo, by Rod Campbell
Another lift-the-flap book has the zoo sending a child bigger and bigger pets until they finally send just the right one.

Freight Train, by Donald Crews
Simple irresistible text shows different colored train cars traveling by.

Good Night Moon, by Margaret Wise Brown, illustrated by Clement Hurd
The classic bedtime book to soothe toddlers to sleep.

More, More, More, Said the Baby, by Vera B. Williams
The opposite of soothing, this book has a built in tickle game.

Is Your Mama a Llama? by Deborah Guarino, illustrated by Steven Kellogg
This book uses rhymes to help a child guess which mama animal is coming next.

Peek-a Who? by Nina Laden
A simple rhyming board book with holes to peek through and guess who’s hiding on the next page – ending up with a mirror to see Baby.

Cat the Cat Who Is That? by Mo Willems
Cat the Cat meets an assortment of new friends until she meets one that defies naming.

Enjoy!

Top Ten Tuesday

Saturday, October 9th, 2010

I decided I want to start a Kidlitosphere meme. Even if I don’t get anyone else to do it, this will be a fun thing to do for myself.

At my new job in the Office for Children, Provider Services, I was asked to use my Children’s Librarian experience and put together some suggested book lists for my team of Child Care Specialists — they work with Home Day Care Providers to give them tips and ideas about caring for children.

Well, needless to say, I loved that assignment. I made several “Sondy’s Selections” lists of ten books that I would choose for several different age groups. I’m proud of the lists — they have a nice mix of old classic titles and brand new books.

I decided I should definitely share the lists on my website. Then I got to thinking that it would be fun to find out what books other people will choose.

So, here’s my plan: Beginning next Tuesday, I’m going to post a blog entry where I list my top ten choices of books in a certain category. For anyone who wants to participate, you can post a link to your blog in the comments for that entry. I’m going to warn you of what category will happen next, so you can think about it ahead of time. At first, the categories will be based on age levels, but after I finish these lists for younger children that I’ve already written, I think I can come up with some fun, more off-the-wall categories. (And suggestions are welcome!)

So, next Tuesday, on October 12, 2010, I will post an entry of Sondy’s Selections for children from birth to two years old. This will be a list of the Top Ten books I would pick if I were starting a child care business with babies from zero to two years old. This will be a personal list, with my own preferences — that’s why I’d enjoy seeing lists from other people.

See you on Top Ten Tuesday for Baby Books!