Sunday, March 14, 2010

Reflections on Elizabeth Bird's List

Several weeks ago I submitted my recommendations for Elizabeth Bird's, a NYPL librarian, top ten list of middle grade novels. I could easily have chosen ten books that were beloved but not known by anyone other than me (and my family) but I tried to pick a mixture of books that were popular favorites and not just hidden gems. It was impossible to rank them properly and in some instances it was very difficult to pick one title by an author I love (such as Edward Eager or Maud Hart Lovelace). The minute I sent my list to Betsy, I thought of several I had inexplicably forgotten (The Mixed Up Files, The Sherwood Ring, an E. Nesbit). There are some books I have reread dozens of times like The Wizard of Oz or The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, or Swallows and Amazons that never occurred to me to include (perhaps because hidden from view on my overcrowded book shelves).
To the surprise and delight of many book lovers, Betsy has been counting down from 100 to 1 all the books that were voted on and her installments are eagerly anticipated. She has done an amazing job of including background on books and I also love the assortment of cover treatments she has included. Inevitably, her list has caused me to make my own lists: books I forgot to include, books I need to reread, books I never read, one book I never even heard of! Although her countdown is not done, I assembled a list of the books I have not read thus far. It was more extensive than I expected. Some are books that were published relatively recently. My nieces have read several I have not and helpfully lent me a couple they owned. I hope to have all 100 read before Betsy has the energy to ask for our top ten YA favorites (that list, I think will be more heavily skued toward recent pubs).

Here is my unread list (partial) of the Top 100:

97. Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane/DiCamillo #
96. The Witches/Dahl #
91. Sideways Stories from the Wayside School / Sachar #
80. Graveyard Book / Gaiman
77. City of Ember / DuPrau (I never even heard of this book!)
76. Out of the Dust / Hesse
68. Walk Two Moons/Creech #
67. Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher/Coville
64. A Long Way from Chicago / Peck
61. Stargirl / Spinelli
55. The Great Gilly Hopkins / Paterson #
54. The BFG /Dahl #
53. The Wind in the Willows /Grahame
52. The Invention of Hugo Cabret /Selznick *
50. Island of the Blue Dolphins / O’Dell #
49. Frindle/Andrew Clements #
47. Bud Not Buddy / Curtis
46. Where the Red Fern Grows/ Rawls
37. Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry #
34. The Watsons Go to Birmingham #
26. Hatchet /Paulsen (other than Arthur Ransome, I don't really like books with too much nature in them)

I really have no interest in The Wind of the Willows and did not like Harriet the Spy (which I sense will rank pretty high), so it may be a challenge to read all 100 but I am motivated. . .

# Indicates a book read by one or more nieces: nice for them to provide reading guidance to me for a change.
* My younger sister has read this so there is some partial family credit.

5 comments:

Darsa and boys said...

Hmm. My Not Read list is somewhat similar to yours... though I have read:

46. Where the Red Fern Grows/ Rawls
37. Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry #
64. A Long Way from Chicago / Peck
61. Stargirl / Spinelli
55. The Great Gilly Hopkins / Paterson #
54. The BFG /Dahl #
53. The Wind in the Willows /Grahame
96. The Witches/Dahl #
26. Hatchet /Paulsen

Of those, I would really only recommend for you the first three. And maybe #55. Incidentally, I have to admit that DiCamillo and Spinelli, in general, leave me cold.

kinderny said...

There are way too many on Betsy's list that I have not read and some I have no interest in reading. I have been making a list of the ones I think I might enjoy and plodding my way through- just read Frindle which was great fun. I actually liked the Wind in the Willows, but it moves slowly. I think it works better as a read aloud for an older child.
Of the ones you have not read- I enjoyed Frindle, A Long Way from Chicago, The Watsons Go to Birmingham, and The Graveyard Book. Some I will never read- Walk Two Moons, Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry, The Great Gilly Hopkins.

So if you voted for Diamond in the Window, and I did too, any chance it might still appear? Probably not. sigh.
Chris

Darsa and boys said...

FYI: ROLL OF THUNDER, HEAR MY CRY is an excellent book. I didn't read it until it was required in a graduate school kit lit class. Seriously, you shouldn't miss it.

Kristi in the Western Reserve said...

No interest in The Wind in the Willows? It's a lovely book......Ok, I don't car for the toad and his motor car that much but here's a link to my favorite part, Dolce Domum:
http://www.classicreader.com/book/132/5/


why have you no interest in this, Constance?

Karenlibrarian said...

I thought I'd read nearly all of them but I'm missing 18! There were a couple I'd never even heard of: Children of Green Knowe, Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher, and The Little White Horse. Already on my library hold queue. I'm trying to work my way through the Newbery list and several of these are included. Thanks so much for sharing blog, I'll be reading it every day with bated breath.