Friday, October 08, 2010

Amanda, on books for the Slightly Bigger

Today we have the last of Amanda's posts on books for littles. Of course, the littles have grown since Monday, they're not so little any more....

For the Slightly Bigger

For sneaking flashlights ‘neath warm sheets.

The Bears’ Famous Invasion of Sicily, Dino Buzzati/Frances Lobb (translator)

KING LEANDER. He is the King of the Bears, the son of a King who in turn had a King as a father. He is therefore a bear of most ancient lineage. He is tall, strong, valiant, virtuous, and intelligent too, though not as intelligent as all that. We hope you will like him.

The Phantom Tollbooth, Norman Juster/Jules Feiffer

Attached to one side was a bright-blue envelope which said simply: “FOR MILO, WHO HAS PLENTY OF TIME.”

Half Magic, Edward Eager/N.M. Bodeker

A book about four sensible children who enjoy both libraries and the books of one E. Nesbit. Also covers such subjects as borrowing money from another’s pocketbook and accidental arson.

Boy, Roald Dahl/Quentin Blake

Dead mice in candy jars and goat poo in pipes.

The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More, Roald Dahl/Quentin Blake

A boy who talks to animals and magic of every other sort.

Matilda, Roald Dahl/Quentin Blake

Our heroine reads many great books, outwits several cruel adults, and composes at least one limerick. Also, a small and charming cottage.

The Witches, Roald Dahl/Quentin Blake

For children who hope to survive into adulthood, the most important book of them all.

The Magician’s Elephant, Kate DiCamillo/Yoko Tanaka

Leo Matienne had the soul of a poet, and because of this, he liked very much to consider questions that had no answers.

The Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup, and a Spool of Thread, Kate DiCamillo/Timothy Basil Ering

He drank the soup in big, noisy gulps. And when he stepped out of the saucer, his paws were damp and his whiskers were dripping and his stomach was full.

Harriet the Spy, Louise Fitzhugh

A book with a surfeit of tomato sandwiches.

The Graveyard Book, Neil Gaiman/Dave McKean

There was a hand in the darkness, and it held a knife.

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, E.L. Konigsburg

Claudia knew that she could never pull off the old-fashioned kind of running away … She didn’t like discomfort; even picnics were untidy and inconvenient: all those insects and the sun melting the icing on the cupcakes.

A Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine L’Engle

It was a dark and stormy night.

The Willoughbys, Lois Lowry

Their father, an impatient and irascible man, went to work at a bank each day, carrying a briefcase and an umbrella even if it was not raining. Their mother, who was indolent and ill-tempered, did not go to work. Wearing a pearl necklace, she grudgingly prepared the meals. Once she read a book but found it distasteful because it contained adjectives.

His Dark Materials series, Phillip Pullman

All of the best things of any worlds exist in these three books.

The Westing Game, Ellen Raskin

The Halloween moon was full. Except for her receding chin Turtle Wexler looked every inch the witch, her dark unbraided hair streaming wild in the wind from under her peaked hat, a putty wart pasted on her small beaked nose.

A Series of Unfortunate Events, Lemony Snicket/Brett Helquist

In this book, not only is there no happy ending, there is no happy beginning and very few happy things in the middle. This is because not very many happy things happened in the lives of the three Baudelaire youngsters … I am sorry to tell you this, but that is how the story goes.

The Wonderful O, James Thurber/Marc Simont

Pirates ban the letter O. Hrrible, wnderful things ensue.

The 13 Clocks, James Thurber/Marc Simont

His hands were as cold as his smile and almost as cold as his heart. He wore gloves when he was asleep, and he wore gloves when he was awake, which made it difficult for him to pick up pins or coins or the kernals of nuts, or to tear the wings from nightingales.

* images one by Littlebirds
* image two by Jaime M
* image three by Buttonhearts


  1. YES. I believe most of these books are on my bookshelf as great reads. I re-read Matilda a million times as a child, to the extend that my mum threw it away, and it was a moment of great emancipation for me to save up my pocket money and re-buy it! Also, the Graveyard Book was probably the best book I read last year, I love Gaiman's storytelling style and I feel like this one has such a beautiful episodic quality to it, whilst still maintaining the suspense of the overall story. Amazing collection of books here, well done. Think I might have to spend the weekend in a bookshop...

  2. Glad to see so many Roald Dahl books, and also His Dark Materials. Have really enjoyed this series of posts, thanks Amanda for sharing and Peonies for coming up with the idea!

  3. this whole series has been utterly fantastic. is it too late to read the ones i missed as a child? nah... i'm heading to the library today!

  4. How could you forget Laura ingalls wilder? I spent many a night staying up after bedtime to read those. And wrinkle in time, hell yes.

  5. !!! I haven't thought about The Westing Game since I was like 10 years old, but I used to love that book so much! Fantastic list.

  6. @apocolypse Well done with Matilda! Such a great emancipator, that one.

    @Julia I could as soon forget Laura as my own right hand, I assure you. The food stuff in Farmer Boy just *kills* me.

    Many thanks for your kind words, all.

  7. @julia, don't worry, the entire Laura Ingalls Wilder collection has taken up a significant part of my bookcase for about 15 years.

  8. I have literally read and LOVE all but 3 of those books. Such great choices! And now I must immediately find the ones I haven't read yet.

  9. Fantastic list. What about the Arthur Ransome books?

    Are you doing a list for slightly older children as well as there are so many I could list but with slightly more adult themes.

    A Little Love Song by Michelle Magorian and In Spite of All Terror by Hester Burton are two which were seminal for me. (and formed part of my dissertation). they both address love and war so maybe ones for the younger teens. Although Laura Ingalls Wilder addresses some of those issues too.

    Of all the things I am jealous of with your babies P, it is perhaps the books that gets me most!


  10. Several books on that list are far more real to me than any physical life I may have led. The Phantom Tollbooth I swear I dreamed every night. I can still see Milo, and the car, and the map. I love these lists.

  11. How old is a Slightly Bigger, do you imagine?

  12. @Johnnyburn - Slightly Bigger: 'childrens who have just learnt to read and will hide under the bed for days on end reading the books if they are not dragged out by their ears for dinner.'

    @Peacock Feathers - I'm afraid that this is where it ends. I need a few years before I start thinking about them being any bigger than Slightly Bigger.

  13. The Phantom Tollbooth! Oh, we did lots of fun projects for that book when we read it in 5th grade. I still distinctly remember making a Dodecahedron.

    I finished re-reading the Little House series last week. And the food from Farmer Boy makes me want to find some sort of 100+-year-old cookbook to try the recipes.

    Anne of Green Gables and Little Women were definitely hiding-under-the-covers-with-a-flashlight for me. Still are, minus the hiding. :)

    Amanda, I don't know how you were able to narrow down the lists at all. There are so many good books!

  14. I am the proud owner of a Little House on the Prairie Cookbook (or I was...i think my mom has it now. I need to get that back).
    I loved Half Magic but no one else I have ever talked to has ever HEARD of it! I'm glad to hear that those books actually existed and I didn't imagine them. I re-read The Westing Game last year for fun (still so good).
    These aren't on the list (and I'm not Christian)...but I cannot WAIT to read The Narnia books to my kids.

  15. @AvidRead: If they're among the three, I think you will be awfully fond of Thurbers.

    @peacockfeathers: Can I read your dissertation? Srsly?

    @Johnnyburn: It *really* depends on the child, but, more specifically, most of these are appropriate for those in the 9-to-12-year-old range. Some have more adult themes than others, though, particularly His Dark Materials.

  16. The Phantom Tollbooth is definitely one of my favorite books ever.

  17. I first read The golden compass when I was eleven, and Since then I've read the His Dark Materials series on average once a year to this day. My absolute favourite.

  18. Oh, A Wrinkle in Time. Changed my Slightly Bigger little world, no doubts. Inspired lists Amanda, inspired.

  19. oh matilda!! love that book as well as all the dahl books.

  20. @Amanda - I could try and dig it out for you if you are serious. Not sure if it stands up to it's hype though :)

    It was about representations of the second world war through children's literature. Perhaps better in theory than in the reality of reading it...

  21. Roald Dahl! I remember loving his books when I was younger! What a great list :)

    And on a random note, I'm hosting a Mustachioed Coffee Cup Set Giveaway on my blog just in case you wanted to enter!


  22. Awwwww, truly loved so many of these books! My faves growing up were Harriet, The Mixed Up Files, and just about anything written by Roald Dahl. Did anyone every read the series "The Littles"? Oh man, I wanted to be a Little SO BAD.

  23. You can't go wrong with anything by Roald Dahl. I can't wait to introduce my children to his books!

  24. It's funny, almost all of these books are such favorites that I feel ownership over them. I had a "hey- those are my books!" moment. I guess we all feel that way about childhood/life shaping reads. I don't have kids yet, but I can't wait to help them love reading.


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