Friday, April 16, 2010

Top 100 Children's Books of All Time - My Score

It's a rule of the internet - you give us a list, we'll give you a meme. Another rule is that if it exists, there is a fetish community for it, but this post has nothing to do with that.

This one's based on Betsy Bird's top 100 children's books of all time and has been bouncing happily around the kidlitosphere since Betsy announced the number one book on Monday morning. It's very simple, bold the ones you've read. I'm going to go one further and star the ones that I read as a kid. Of course, it being me, I have to provide color commentary.

100. The Egypt Game - Snyder (1967) *
99. The Indian in the Cupboard - Banks (1980) *
98. Children of Green Knowe - Boston (1954)
97. The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane - DiCamillo (2006)
96. The Witches - Dahl (1983) *
95. Pippi Longstocking - Lindgren (1950) *
94. Swallows and Amazons - Ransome (1930)
93. Caddie Woodlawn - Brink (1935) *
92. Ella Enchanted - Levine (1997)
91. Sideways Stories from Wayside School - Sachar (1978) *
I still remember, vividly, the kid who got the potato tattoo. Potato! Tattoo!!
90. Sarah, Plain and Tall - MacLachlan (1985) *
89. Ramona and Her Father - Cleary (1977)*
88. The High King - Alexander (1968)
I don't actually remember if I did or not. Ugh. Isn't that awful?
87. The View from Saturday - Konigsburg (1996)
86. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets - Rowling (1999)
85. On the Banks of Plum Creek - Wilder (1937) *
84. The Little White Horse - Goudge (1946)
83. The Thief - Turner (1997)
I remember reading this for the first time and going, "Hey, MWT can't do that in first person! But she DID. And it was AWESOME."
82. The Book of Three - Alexander (1964)
81. Where the Mountain Meets the Moon - Lin (2009)
Loved it. Reviewed it. Smirked at my own perspicacity. Then had to spell-check perspicacity.
80. The Graveyard Book - Gaiman (2008)
79. All-of-a-Kind-Family - Taylor (1951)*
78. Johnny Tremain - Forbes (1943)*
77. The City of Ember - DuPrau (2003)
76. Out of the Dust - Hesse (1997)
75. Love That Dog - Creech (2001)
74. The Borrowers - Norton (1953)*
73. My Side of the Mountain - George (1959)
72. My Father's Dragon - Gannett (1948)*
71. The Bad Beginning - Snicket (1999)
70. Betsy-Tacy - Lovelace (1940)
69. The Mysterious Benedict Society - Stewart ( 2007)
68. Walk Two Moons - Creech (1994)
67. Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher - Coville (1991)*
66. Henry Huggins - Cleary (1950)*
65. Ballet Shoes - Streatfeild (1936)*
64. A Long Way from Chicago - Peck (1998)
63. Gone-Away Lake - Enright (1957)
62. The Secret of the Old Clock - Keene (1959)*
61. Stargirl - Spinelli (2000)
60. The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle - Avi (1990)
59. Inkheart - Funke (2003)
58. The Wolves of Willoughby Chase - Aiken (1962)*
I still remember figuring out the secret of a secondary character and going, "Oh! OH!" I love that feeling.
57. Ramona Quimby, Age 8 - Cleary (1981)*
56. Number the Stars - Lowry (1989)*
55. The Great Gilly Hopkins - Paterson (1978)
54. The BFG - Dahl (1982)*
53. Wind in the Willows - Grahame (1908)
I tried! Honestly, I did!
52. The Invention of Hugo Cabret (2007)
51. The Saturdays - Enright (1941)
50. Island of the Blue Dolphins - O'Dell (1960)*
49. Frindle - Clements (1996)
48. The Penderwicks - Birdsall (2005)
47. Bud, Not Buddy - Curtis (1999)
46. Where the Red Fern Grows - Rawls (1961)
45. The Golden Compass - Pullman (1995)
44. Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing - Blume (1972)*
I was traumatized by Fudge eating the turtle. That poor turtle! Swimming around in Fudge's stomach!
43. Ramona the Pest - Cleary (1968)*
42. Little House on the Prairie - Wilder (1935)*
41. The Witch of Blackbird Pond - Speare (1958)*
One of my first swoony romantic books. Oh, Nat! With your huge, manly . . . ship.
40. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz - Baum (1900)
39. When You Reach Me - Stead (2009)
38. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - Rowling (2003)
37. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry - Taylor (1976)
36. Are You there, God? It's Me, Margaret - Blume (1970)*
Like practically every American girl since 1970, I owe my understanding of menstruation to Judy Blume. I was also kind of blown away by Margaret's Jewish/Catholic family.
35. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - Rowling (2000)
34. The Watsons Go to Birmingham - Curtis (1995)
33. James and the Giant Peach - Dahl (1961)*
32. Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH - O'Brian (1971)*
31. Half Magic - Eager (1954)*
30. Winnie-the-Pooh - Milne (1926)
Parts of it. Do parts count? Do I get, like, .5 point?
29. The Dark Is Rising - Cooper (1973)*
Probably kickstarted my Anglophilia.
28. A Little Princess - Burnett (1905)*
27. Alice I and II - Carroll (1865/72)*
26. Hatchet - Paulsen (1989)*
Weirdly enough, the old cover looked exactly like my brother. No. Exactly. It was freaky, I tell you.
25. Little Women - Alcott (1868/9)*
24. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Rowling (2007)
23. Little House in the Big Woods - Wilder (1932)*
22. The Tale of Despereaux - DiCamillo (2003)
21. The Lightning Thief - Riordan (2005)
20. Tuck Everlasting - Babbitt (1975)
I know. I know!
19. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Dahl (1964)
18. Matilda - Dahl (1988)*
Did anyone else jump up in the middle of class and shriek, "I KNEW IT!" when Miss Honey revealed who the Trunchbull was? No? Just me then.
17. Maniac Magee - Spinelli (1990)*
16. Harriet the Spy - Fitzhugh (1964)*
15. Because of Winn-Dixie - DiCamillo (2000)
14. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - Rowling (1999)
My favorite Harry Potter. I knew from the beginning what Harry would do for his parents' murderer. I got the identity wrong, of course, but I knew what he'd do.
13. Bridge to Terabithia - Paterson (1977)*
I . . . I . . . I'm getting a little verklempt. Talk amongst yourselves.
12. The Hobbit - Tolkien (1938)
Never got the love for this book, or LOTR in general. Only reason I finished it was because I was reading it for a class. I am now erecting a tomato barrier.
11. The Westing Game - Raskin (1978)
Actually, I may have. Or maybe it was her other one. Y'all, I just don't know anymore.
10. The Phantom Tollbooth - Juster (1961)
9. Anne of Green Gables - Montgomery (1908)
True story, I once declared my intention of naming any future children Anne and Gilbert. Luckily for them, they haven't materialized yet.
8. The Secret Garden - Burnett (1911) *
First child I ever encountered in a book who was a brat and not ashamed of it one bit. Too awesome.
7. The Giver -Lowry (1993)*
I never knew there was a controversy about the end until years after I read it. Amazement. Wasn't it obvious that he lived?
6. Holes - Sachar (1998)
I once used this book to explain the concept of magical realism to a family member. Still not sure they got it.
5. From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler - Koningsburg (1967)*
I was so envious of these kids. They got to swim in a fountain.
4. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe - Lewis (1950)*
I felt soooo smart for spotting the resurrection allusion when I was ten. Of course, I had no notion it was intentional. I thought it was a neat coincidence. Oh, small me. So clever and yet so dumb.
3. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone - Rowling (1997)
Ensnared from the first line. ". . . perfectly normal, thank you very much!"
2. A Wrinkle in Time - L'Engle (1962)*
Speaking of book crushes, raise your hand if you still have a secret soft spot for gangly, smart redheads who talk about "dreamboat eyes.". . . The rest of you are lying.
1. Charlotte's Web - White (1952) *
After sobbing my way through Charlotte's exceedingly gentle death, the ending soothed my bruised heart.

What's my score? 77/100, a little lower than I thought but not utterly shame-making, especially since it counts books I'm not sure if I've read and books I tried to read and couldn't.

Something occurred to me as I was going through this list, and it's that so many of the books I read as a child, I don't actually remember what happens, but I remember the feel of the book. I remember what it made me think of and ponder and obsess over. Also, I remember where I was. I can picture almost perfectly the classroom and the time of day where I first found out who the Trunchbull was to Miss Honey. I remember sitting on my toy chest in my room and reading about Laura in the Big Woods. I remember getting The Secret Garden for my ninth birthday and ignoring my new Barbie doll to read it. I couldn't give you a synopsis of most of these books if my life depended on it, but they're still there, sitting in some corner of my brain like a jewel in a dragon's cave, occasionally sparkling up into my thoughts when the light turns the right way.

And that's why children's literature is important.


Unknown said...

I didn't think there was any controversy in The Giver either. He so clearly died ... :-)

I spent years wanting to find my own Calvin O'Keefe. He totally set the standard for my dating life from there on out.

Mrs4444 said...

This is a great post, and your commentary (especially at the end) is perfect. I have many of the same thoughts, having read most of these as well. I just picked up From the Mixed Up Files--Thought it would be fun to read again to see it through adult eyes and remember why I loved it so much.