It happened: today an email from a major book retailer arrived announcing its “Holiday Gift Guide” to the best children’s books of 2013. Little did they know I’d already asked department members with children to submit some of the most popular book titles in their households. Please feel free to add your choices in the comments—it’s always great to have more recommendations.
Veronica Austen, Assistant Professor
I am an avid book buyer and reader for my niece and nephew (particularly my niece because she’s the huge book lover). Her first absolutely favourite book was Monkey and Me! Could not get enough of that one! Also, Vicki Churchill’s Sometimes I Like to Curl up in a Ball and any of the Gossie and Gertie books. Unfortunately two of my niece’s other favourites are long out of print: an old illustrated and g-rated Grimm’s fairy tale book, “Beauty and the Beast” being her favourite, and some board book called “Little Friends,” illustrated with photos of various dolls, the text featuring rhymes like: “Your duck’s white and mine is pink. Both are jolly don’t you think!” It’s an example of Great Literature for sure! But since it was one of my favourites and now it’s one of Isla’s, there’s got to be something ‘great’ about it! (-: )
Jennifer Harris, Associate Professor
My five-year-old is currently on a run of chapter books (notably Enid Blyton’s Five Find Outers mystery series), and is also a huge fan of the Usborne Beginners history books for children. For some reason he particularly loves the Romans, and so we’ve also been reading Caroline Lawrence’s Roman Scroll mystery series for younger readers (though I have to edit out a bit here and there). Beyond that, his top silly picture books are:
Virginia Lee Burton, Calico the Wonder Horse or the Saga of Stewy Stinker
William Bee, Beware of the Frog
John Yeoman, The Wild Washerwomen
John Vernon Lord, The Giant Jam Sandwich
Mij Kelly, One More Sheep
Aimée Morrison, Associate Professor
Well, Pinkalicious is kind of a big deal around here …. and Fancy Nancy, but in French it’s Mademoiselle Nancy. Aline really likes the oeuvre of Melanie Watt — bonus! A Canadian! We read them in French. So, perennial faves include all the books about Frisson L’Ecureuil, a flying squirrel who is scared of everything. He’s always making elaborate plans to avoid imperilling himself and he always winds up “CECI NE FAISAIT PAS PARTI DU PLAN!” and the “ET PANIQUE” and then “ET FAIT LE MORT.” Hilarious. And she likes the Chester series, particularly, Chester: le Retour. These books are about an overweight overconfident calico cat trying to wrest control of the authorship process from “Melanie,” who is trying to write books about him while he refuses to cooperate. Aline loves the chaos and anarchy. Chester writes in red marker all over the manuscript and makes terrible jokes.
Sarah Tolmie, Associate Professor
Will (age seven): Ursula Le Guin’s Catwings series; Neil Gaiman’s Wolves in the Walls; The Borrowers; bedtime out-loud reading is Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban; plus anything with frogs or astronomy.
Lucy (age eight): all Harry Potter books, all Madeleine L’Engle books, anything to do with fairies or dragons, all Laura Ingalls Wilder books, anything to do with pioneers, Watership Down, the Narnia books, the Tolkien books … all fantastic or historical lit, really; current bedtime out-loud reading is The Three Musketeers.