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Bruno and Boots

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 20, 2002

Speaking of books, one of my favorite series of books when I was a youngster was the Bruno and Boots/MacDonald Hall series (including This Can’t Be Happening at MacDonald Hall, Something Fishy at MacDonald Hall, and Go Jump in the Pool!). Bruno and Boots are students at a Canadian boarding school who get into lots of adventures and misadventures. My favorite story revolved around them harnessing a nerd’s brain power to help them play the stock market to raise money for a new swimming pool. Classic. What were your favorite books as a kid?

Reader comments

jessamynMar 20, 2002 at 12:33PM

Daniel Pinkwater was a young adult fave. Alan Mendelson, the Boy From Mars about a frumpy kid who is terrorized at his new suburban school until an even weirder kid shows up from nowhere and they start skipping school and going into the city where they meet up with weird people, weirder bookstores and have all sorts of grand kid adventures.

heatherMar 20, 2002 at 12:46PM

Paddle to the Sea (“A small canoe carved by an Indian boy
makes a journey from Lake Superior
to the Atlantic Ocean.
”), Charlie and the Chocolate factory and anything by Lucy Maud Montgomery (esp. Blue Castle - poor ugly duckling who thinks that she’s dying runs away to marry scraggly stranger who turns out to be a veritable (rich) prince charming.)

mikeMar 20, 2002 at 12:59PM

I know this will be posted a ton, but you really can’t beat Where The Wild Things Are.
Another favorite of mine: The Frog collection by Mercer Mayer (ie. A Boy, A Dog and A Frog; A Boy, A Dog, A Frog, and a Friend; Four Frogs in a Box)

mmmMar 20, 2002 at 1:04PM

I loved From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E Frankweiler . Kids running away from home to live in a museum, what more could you want.

evanMar 20, 2002 at 1:11PM

the great brain books were my favorite. the were about a young and devious genius whose exploits always backfired, told from the vantage point of his younger brother. the great thing about this series is that they took place in turn of the century utah and the historical detail is almost as interesting as the stories themselves, which i read over and over again.

here is the first in the series (of about 8 or 10)

SteveMar 20, 2002 at 1:14PM

Without a doubt, the Phantom Tollbooth, by Norton Juster. The absolute weirdness of this book coupled with its wit and creativity made it a book I read over and over. In fact, it wasn’t but a few weeks ago that I paged through it in a bookstore.

Dave ParkerMar 20, 2002 at 1:26PM

Encyclopedia Brown series

Alfred Hitchcock series: These were about a group of inventive boys who had the coolest clubhouse ever, hidden under a large pile of junk in the middle of a junkyard. I remember one story had a house that revolved on its foundation, turning completely upside-down.

LizMar 20, 2002 at 1:31PM

Phantom Tollbooth, yes yes.
Pinkwater: a recent love. (Slaves of Spiegel!)
All of the original 14 Oz (as in The Wizard of) books by L. Frank Baum.
Frog and Toad.

recent favorites:
The Scrambled States of America, by Laurie Keller.
something about Grand Central Station by Maira Kalman.
Captain Underpants series, by Dav Pilkey.
poetry by Calef Brown.

BrianMar 20, 2002 at 1:31PM

Just So Stories was a staple of my childhood, although I took a look at them again recently, and they seemed so… culturally suspect. So I’m not sure that I feel good about enjoying them so much.I was also a huge fan of Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile and Frederick when I was very very young.

Mike DMar 20, 2002 at 1:35PM

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint ExupŽry. I vaguely recall seeing an animated series based on the book.

MorganMar 20, 2002 at 1:52PM

Phantom Tollbooth, the Snarkout boys, the Frog books… man I hate being reminded how “normal” I am by Internet community standards.

How about The Castle in the Attic or The Three Investigators? I was always a huge fan of The Dark is Rising series… but I’m sure everyone else out there was too.

bunnyMar 20, 2002 at 1:54PM

I remember when Gordon Korman came to my school when I was 8 and I asked him what that whole ‘pet jelly’ thing was about. I remember him saying that he was from Canada and had to learn the English measuring system ‘cause a worm cannot “centemetre across a window sill.”

MerylMar 20, 2002 at 1:55PM

Encyclopedia Brown.

bunnyMar 20, 2002 at 1:56PM

Oh, and I meant to say the Ramona Quimby books, by Beverly Cleary.

crankydoodleMar 20, 2002 at 2:01PM

Encyclopedia Brown was a big favorite of mine, as was the Endless Quest series of books. Also, my parents had a hardcover set of science books (how rockets work, reflection/refraction experiments, etc), a set of encyclopedias, and a really nice collection of childrens stories; all of which I loved reading.

RustyiamMar 20, 2002 at 2:01PM

Phantom Tollbooth was a favorite; helped to develop the sense of irony that helped me survive Catholic school. Thanks for the reminders of Encyclopedia Brown; loved those as well.

Joshua KaufmanMar 20, 2002 at 2:03PM

Shel Silverstein’s A Light in the Attic and Where the Sidewalk Ends.

iAnMar 20, 2002 at 2:16PM

Aside from the Gordon Korman books (my fave being ‘Who is Bugs Potter?’), the Daniel Pinkwater stuff (‘Snarkout Boys and the Avacado of Doom’”), I totally dug Madeleine L’engle’s ‘Wrinkle in Time’ series and the stuff by Monica Hughes.

Yep, at age 10 I was already a scifi geek.

Then again, I recall reading a lot of ‘Swallows and Amazons’ and Bobbsey Twins, so maybe not.

JamesMar 20, 2002 at 2:21PM

The Great Brain was SUCH a great series. It really made me look around and be curious as to how things worked.

merlinMar 20, 2002 at 2:23PM

I was an unapologetic reference book fan. “The Book of Lists” and any almanac I could get my hands on. Also anything with Henry Huggins and Peanuts.

DanMar 20, 2002 at 2:23PM

Definately Where the Wild Things are. Fudge. Sideways Stories from Wayside School (i think that was the title).

Lets not forget Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, as well.

Pure literary gold.

meganMar 20, 2002 at 2:25PM

the little house on the prairie books. i read them all many time and spent a lot of time turning my canopy bed into a covered wagon when i was a child.

SimoneMar 20, 2002 at 2:36PM

The first Alanna series by Tamora Pierce. These were about a girl who disguised herself as a boy and trained to become a warrior in order to avoid being married off or stuck in a convent. Other favorites: Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson and Where the Redfern Grows by Wilson Rawls.

boogahMar 20, 2002 at 2:40PM

choose your own adventure… best bookseries ever. i started reading at a young age [three] and i poured over
“cat in the hat”, “where the wild things are” and the like, but for some reason the “choose your own adventure” series appealed to me. trying to make it thru the book without dying or getting caught by the monster. if they weren’t the best written books, they were at least some of the most fun to waste an afternoon on.

RachelleMar 20, 2002 at 2:44PM

I was in love with Shel Silverstein. Where the Sidewalk Ends, especially. Also, Roald Dahl… James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. yum!

LillyMar 20, 2002 at 2:56PM

I have so many favorites! One I read over and over was The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken. Rich girl, poor cousin who comes to live with her, a smart orphan boy who raises geese, and a sinister governess who sends the girls off to an orphanage and steals the family fortune when the parents head off on a voyage and are lost at sea. Classic stuff! Oh, and there are the wolves too.

Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House series is a well-known favorite. Also Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery.

On the sci-fi side, the Mushroom Planet books by Eleanor Cameron were a lot of fun.

The best thing about childrens’ books is that new ones keep getting written after you grow up (and not just Harry Potter). It’s fun to browse what is new, not just the old and cherished. And sometimes I find old ones that I missed out on, such as Edward Eager’s Half Magic and the others he wrote. I just bought the entire series!

KeithMar 20, 2002 at 2:58PM

The “Freddy the Pig” books were my favorites, because they were so otherworldly. They had a subversive sense of humor that most parents wouldn’t suspect. Add “The New Adventures of the Mad Scientist’s Club” and “World of Stairs” to that pile.

But then I also read the “Bobbsey Twins” and “Happy Hollisters” books, which was as non-subversive as you could get.

I was a conflicted child.

rebeccaMar 20, 2002 at 3:24PM

The ones I still have because I loved them so much are “The Owl and the Pussycat” (beautiful illustrations by Owen Wood), “The Love Bug” and “Grimms Fairy Tales”.

I also really liked Pippi Longstocking because she was so independent and strong and she rode a horse to school, the one time she went. I think I read it 12 times.

Aside from that, I read most or all of the books by Judy Bloom and Beverly Cleary at least twice. (Well, not the *gasp* adult books by Judy Bloom). I remember reading “Are You There God…” when I was about 7 (my older sister had it) and I didn’t know what “bra” was because I pronounced it wrong in my head. I thought it was short for bracelet.

Other books that I enjoyed: Encyclopedia Brown (except the one where you were supposed to know the girl didn’t just get out of the bath because she was filing her finger nails — that pissed me off), Freckle Juice, The Last of the Really Great Wangdoodles, Sink the Sub…

There are more, I’m sure, but I’ve already taken up enough space.

BethMar 20, 2002 at 3:28PM

I read all the time when I was a kid…I’d go to the library and load up..but I can’t remember specific books, other than Trixie Belden and Bobbsey Twins series. When my son was little, though, I became acquainted with all the classics - Raold Dahl (Fantastic Mr. Fox, the BFG, the Witches) William Steig (Sylvester and the Magic Pebble, Farmer Palmer’s Wild Ride, Abel’s island, Amos and Boris), Dr. Doolittle, Jungle Book, Jean Craighead George (My Side of the Mountain), Bill Peet’s books, Pippi Longstocking… so many wonderful stories.

sethMar 20, 2002 at 3:37PM

My sister and I read Astrid Lindgren’s Bill Bergstrom, Master Detective series (I think there were 3 or 4 books) and just went nuts playing out the games and the riddles and spy stuff. I also really liked Ms. Lindgren’s Emil books… Almost all the books everyone else has mentioned have special places in my bookshelves even today-

jkottkeMar 20, 2002 at 3:49PM

I was also a big fan of Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs because of the story and the wonderful illustrations. And anything by Roald Dahl (my favorite of his was Tales of the Unexpected, even as a kid), the Little House books, Where the Red Fern Grows, The Mad Scientist’s Club, the Bobbsey Twins, Encyclopedia Brown, C.S. Lewis, Wayside School, etc.

And when I got done reading those, I would tear into my sisters books. Caddie Woodlawn, Judy Blume, Beverly Cleary, Anne of Green Gables (I read the entire series), Nancy Drew, etc.

Oh, and 1984. At that age, Orwell and the Bobbsey Twins: The Blue Poodle Mystery seemed to be on the same level somehow.

crankydoodleMar 20, 2002 at 4:05PM

Update: OK, I never read them as a child, but the “Anne of Green Gables” series is a great set of books. I was, um, *forced* to watch the first two series (“Anne fo Green Gables” and “Anne of Avonlea”) with my wife when she was sick one day, and I loved the movies so much I read the books. True, they are traditionally “girls” books (eg- I doubt many 4th grade boys would want to read them), but they are a great set of books and I highly recommend them to anyone.

I was also really into Mark Twain in my Jr. High days. I couldn’t get enough of “Huckleberry Finn” or “Tom Sawyer”. I also first read “The Hobbit” in 7th grade (or somewhere thereabouts) and that’s about the time I went nutso for fantasy books. “The Chocolate War” by Robert Cormier was another book I really enjoyed.

And who didn’t love those “Garfield”, “Bloom County”, and “Calvin and Hobbes” books? :)

chairMar 20, 2002 at 4:20PM

Bunnicula by Deborah and James Howe. I didn’t care for The Celery Stalks at Midnight as much.
The Secret of Nimh by Robert C. O’ Brien
Watership Down by Richard Adams is still my all-time favorite book.
And I’m an entomologist, not a rodentologist!

James McNallyMar 20, 2002 at 4:33PM

I loved Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time and its followups, A Wind in the Door, and A Swiftly Tilting Planet. I also read a lot of the Henry Huggins books by Beverley Cleary (Henry Huggins, Henry and Ribsy). Oh, and the Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators series. And also Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh.

NicklasMar 20, 2002 at 5:10PM

I began to read late in life (but to my defence I must say that from when I turned 15 I’ve made up for it.)

I remember that I read Frank Herbert’s Dune (first book only) several times the summer when I turned 13. I think I read the Alfred Hitchcock series as well, a year a two earlier.

kgjbnmeMar 20, 2002 at 5:17PM

WOW! Mind-meld w/Kottke, here. I love Gordon Korman, and have recently been buying all his books (again) at secondhand stores — I’m reading “No Coins, Please” *right now*. Well, not while I’m on this site, of course, but you know. Cracks my shit up now as much as it did the first time around, like a dozen years ago. He never condescended to kids, either.

Bill AltreuterMar 20, 2002 at 5:28PM

Glad to see Freddy the Pig on this list— they were among my favorites when I was a kid, and now that they are back in print my kids love ‘em too. They are really, really funny in the way that they puncture pomposity without being cynical or snide. Other trans-generational hits in my household include the works of Edward Eager, particularly Half Magic, and Elizabeth Enright’s The Saturdays

boochMar 20, 2002 at 5:52PM

I’m a huge Robert McCloskey fan (Make Way for Ducklings, One Morning in Maine, Blueberries for Sal). I grew up near Boston, so the stories always felt very real to me when I was little. I’m looking forward to sharing them with my son.

deniseMar 20, 2002 at 6:00PM

the entire “little house” series, the entire “anne of green gables” series & the entire “trixie belden” mysteries…one other set of books that i loved were the “the dark is rising” sequence by susan cooper. time warps, king arthur, light against dark, myths and the metaphysical all rolled into an excellent series of books. i was also an avid reader of encyclopedias, medical text books and home improvement manuals. whatever my parents had in the house.

ste3veMar 20, 2002 at 6:56PM

“The Monster at the End of This Book” starring lovable, furry old Grover - I remember thinking how odd it was that Grover knew he was in a book. Kind of like the first Disney Winnie-the-Pooh specials where the characters would jump across the middle of the book to get to the next page…

“Eloise at Christmastime” by Kay Thompson, illustrated by Hilary Knight - a sometimes sad tale in verse of six-year-old Eloise who lives at NYC’s Plaza Hotel.

As I got a little older, I read and reread Jonathan Swift, George Orwell, The Hobbit and The Lord of The Rings, fiction and non-fiction by Isaac Asimov, and tons of other science-fiction and fantasy from Poul Anderson, Robert A. Heinlein, Anne McCaffrey, and Piers Anthony among many others.

nickMar 20, 2002 at 7:20PM

Beyond the array of Tolkien, Blyton et al: The Talking Parcel, by Gerald Durrell, which I believe is now out of print. And more’s the pity. And The Iron Man, by Ted Hughes, which is ‘The Iron Giant’ in the US. (‘The Iron Man’, just as a phrase, works so much better, though. And most Americans miss the symbolism, even after watching the film.)

Enigmatic MermaidMar 20, 2002 at 9:10PM

Monteiro Lobato and his Sitio do PicaPau Amarelo sagas beat Harry Potter by a longshot. He was one of my childhood favorites and “had written in English, there’s no doubt that today he would be one of the great universal fabulists”.

But to be honest, I’ve always been a sucker for slightly twisted fairy tales such as The Snow Queen and Red Shoes, both by H.C. Andersen.

carsonMar 20, 2002 at 9:16PM

it seems like i used to read everything as a kid. if there wasn’t a book or a magazing i could drop in the tub during a bath, i read and re-read the labels of the shampoo/conditioner.

favorite books as a child included the westing game by ellen raskin, any and all of the hardy boys series, the foundation series, the chronicles of narnia, sideways stories from wayside school (and its followup—the title escapes me), trucks, which was one of those early readers—my first book and the one that captivated me until it was ravaged by a pet or two and sold for pennies in one of the heartless, greed-driven, demon-inspired garage sales that my mother used in place of nagging me to death for never cleaning the floor of my ro—

*cough* err, sorry. i read a lot more, and loved most of it, but can’t remember much more now.

SteveMar 20, 2002 at 9:41PM

Nitpicking away here. The nerd didn’t play the stock market in Go Jump in the Pool! That’s Elmer Drimsdale. The stock market whiz was a stuck up rich kid.

Gotta love it when a Canadian author makes such an impression.

jeanineMar 20, 2002 at 9:49PM

i looooooooved Starring Sally J. Freedman as Herself, by Judy Blume, if i recall… i also looooved A Wrinkle in Time and the other assorted Madeline L’Engle books, and The Giver. and we can’t forget Wayside School! ooh, i’m nostalgic now.

KayMar 20, 2002 at 10:42PM

Being the big reading geek that I am, it is hard to narrow the field. As a youngster I loved Harold and the Purple Crayon (what’s not to love a magic crayon that draws things that come to life). The Once and Future King is still a favorite and I second the Rats of NIMH, (as a cognitive psychologist I still chuckle about the reference). I loved the twisted poetry of Shel Silverstein. Oh and Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry was a great book. And…I should stop

SueMar 20, 2002 at 11:06PM

Anything Can Happen It was my mom’s school book back in the early 1940’s. I treasure that book, and still read it when I feel nostalgic.

Matt KMar 20, 2002 at 11:46PM

In addition to so many of the great ones already listed here (wow, I can’t believe someone else remembers the Mushroom Planet series!), one of my favorite children/young adult authors continues to be John Bellairs (i.e. The House with a Clock in Its Walls, The Treasure of Alpheus Winterborn, etc) — I pulled them out a while back and also read the new books that had come out since my childhood.There was also a great series about a boy (who had to move out to the country and live with his aunt and uncle) who got into various entrepreneurial exploits with the barn on their farm — can’t remember the titles for the life of me.

jkottkeMar 21, 2002 at 12:00AM

Nitpicking away here. The nerd didn’t play the stock market in Go Jump in the Pool! That’s Elmer Drimsdale. The stock market whiz was a stuck up rich kid.

Alright, you’ve got me there. He was a financial nerd, then.

JosiMar 21, 2002 at 12:12AM

i still have my battered copy of ‘the ghost of the isherwoods’ by carol beach york. girls swooning over boys and ghosts, you can’t beat that.

josh tenseMar 21, 2002 at 1:28AM

Trouble With Trumpets was my favorite. I’ve had no luck finding a copy since.

None the less, if you ever happen upon a copy take a peek inside, you’ll never forget it.

themanbehindthemanbehindthemanMar 21, 2002 at 2:06AM

As a kid? Playboy, of course.

eggMar 21, 2002 at 3:05AM

I must have read the entire Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, and Bobsey Twins series. When I went to the province for the summer, I would read and re-read all the Reader’s Digest copies my grandmother had. I pretty much outgrew them soon after. I started reading detective/spy novels by age 10.

Does anybody remember the Choose Your Own Adventure series?

JesseMar 21, 2002 at 3:17AM

oh man, my all time fav book when I was a kid has got to be ZED AND THE MONSTERS, I still have it, in fact I am looking at it right now… Its about Zed who is lazy and is sent to get a job and he encounters these monsters who want to eat him (of course), but he outsmarts them with noodles and grapes… great stuff…

LucyMar 21, 2002 at 5:03AM

Watership Down by Richard Adams, and a variety of mostly Australian childrens’ authors - books that I would still treasure, if I owned them - The Plum-Rain Scroll, by Ruth Manley, Storm Boy by Colin Thiele and Eagle of the Ninth by Rosemary Sutcliff (think she is English, great historical novels about the Romans), and most of the US series mentioned above, as well as Enid Blyton (the Magic Faraway Tree - particularly her descriptions of the magic food…)

kofiMar 21, 2002 at 7:11AM

Why, Stig of the Dump. One child, one caveman and lots of fun in a rubbish dump.

patrickMar 21, 2002 at 8:03AM

Besides Encyclopedia Brown (which seems to rank high on a lot of lists), I loved James Howe’s Bunnicula series — Bunnicula, The Celery Stalks at Midnight, Howliday Inn, and Return to Howliday Inn.

Kristian WalkerMar 21, 2002 at 8:15AM

Some of my favorites are have already been mentioned (Encyclodeia Brown, Madeline L’Engle, Choose Your Own Adventure). The Chroncles of Narnia were great. I just bought my 9 year old daught the boxed set commorative edition. I also remember a series where the main character was a man with cancer or similar disease (he was missing a finger or two) named Tom or Thomas and he travelled into this other world where he was a Messiah like warrior bringin down an evil oppressor. Racking my brian I can’t remember the name of the books anymore though (getting too old). There was also a series about mideval dragons.

LizMar 21, 2002 at 8:57AM

There’s a Liz up there who named the Oz series. I swear that wasn’t me. Weird. But that would be on my list. Also: the Emily series (Emily of New Moon, etc, by LM Montgomery of Anne of Green Gables fame), Harriet the Spy (the sequel wasn’t nearly as good)… I know I’m forgetting plenty, but I read each of those 10+ times.

CarolineMar 21, 2002 at 9:10AM

‘Krabat’ by Otfried Preussler, ‘Kruistocht in Spijkerbroek’ (Crusade in Jeans) by Thea Beckman, and ‘De Gebroeders Leeuwenhart’ by Astrid Lindgren (The Brothers Lionheart). From there it was on to Tolkien.

CarolineMar 21, 2002 at 9:16AM

Apparently, ‘Krabat’ is called ‘The Satanic Mill’ in English. I’m sure that made it sell a bundle in the States.

PeteMar 21, 2002 at 9:27AM

I would have to say it’s frog and toad. Though for a long time I forgot the series entirely. I also remember a grover book that i loved, but its title if long forgotten

ahwMar 21, 2002 at 9:37AM

The monochrome Choo-Choois burnt into my brane. not bad for a book written in 1937 and read in 1981! In later years at grade school, the Choose-Your-Own-Adventures (the Somethingawful Forums are currently reminiscing about UFO 54-40), Steve Jackson’s and Ian Livingston’s Fighting Fantasy Gamebooks. Especially the ‘Sorcery!’ four-part. Magic times. Any and all of the ‘Moomintroll’ novels by the late Tove Jansson, who died last year. Remembered and missed. Just realised I haven’t mentioned any Australian children’s books. ‘Bottersnikes and Gumbles’ and ‘Possum Magic’. There. (@_@) Oh and Barbapappa too *g* Richard Scarry! Lowly Worm and Glowbug! Waldo? Pscch. Raymond Briggs. Michael Foreman’s ‘War and Peas’. *sigh* … Alberto Breccia. Excuse me while I break in to my old school library.

Karen BrownMar 21, 2002 at 10:01AM

I love many as well: “Help! I’m a Prisoner in the Library”, “Pilot Down, Presumed Dead” (any book dealing with being stranded, “Robinson Crusoe”, etc.), Daniel Manus Pinkwater’s “Lizard Music” is the best!

Also, every girl loves the king-gets-murdered-daughter-runs-away-to-hide-from-evil tales so…”A murder for her majesty”. “nicobobinus” by terry jones. my favorite all-time book: “i am the cheese” by robert cormier. and yes, i remember and loved “choose your own adventure”.

marrijeMar 21, 2002 at 10:44AM

Pippi! And anything else by Astrid Lindgren. How I used to long for a pirate ship and a big attick…

emilyMar 21, 2002 at 10:44AM

i liked things with historical detail that made the story more escapist, like the Great Brain, the All-Of-A-Kind Family series (immigrants on the Lower East Side of NYC), Laura Ingalls Wilder, My Side of the Mountain/Where the Red Fern Grows (which i’ve heard is going to be a movie w/ Dave Matthews - ?!), etc. i also loved all those ‘girls can kick ass’ books of the 70’s: Harriet the Spy, Ramona, …Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, Blubber, etc. too bad today’s girls have Cosmo Girl and Teen People to deal with…

rebeccaMar 21, 2002 at 10:44AM

can i post again? is that a faux pas? i was thinking of this last night, and realized that i completely forgot about “alexander and the horrible, terrible, very bad, no good day,” and nobody else has mentioned it. the other one that i forgot to mention is “the gorilla did it.” excellent book. all about this kid who gets in trouble and blames everything on this huge gorilla his mom can’t see.

oh! and the clifford the big red dog books were big faves. and, of course, the dick and jane series in kindergarten, which were fine until they introduced george in book 13 or 14 (the green ones, if i remember correctly) and i couldn’t pronounce his name. phonics and george just don’t mix.

but, curiously, curious george was also a favorite. :)

emilyMar 21, 2002 at 10:54AM

i too shall post again —- this time with a wee rant, now that i’ve read all the posts. isn’t it intersting that people refer to “girls’ books” or their “sisters’ books,” but not really “boys’ books”? it proves the theory that girls will read books about boys, but not vice versa. that’s what the publishing (not to mention children’s software) industry thinks, anyway, and thus they don’t bother introducing characters that bust down old gender stereotypes. Male characters are still the adventurers, with girls looking on: even freakin’ Hermione in ‘Harry Potter’ cries, pouts, and has to get rescued. not that i didn’t read Sweet Valley High too, but GRRRRRRRRRRRR.

oh and ps —- best Roald Dahl has to be ‘The Twits.’

TomMar 21, 2002 at 11:09AM

I can’t believe no one has mentioned the Hardy Boys or Tom Swift. Roadsters and rocket ships, that’s what I liked best :)

BrittneyMar 21, 2002 at 11:29AM

I’m seconding A Wrinkle in Time. A terrific introduction to sci-fi reading for any kid.

Wax PancakeMar 21, 2002 at 11:44AM

Julie Andrews’ The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles is an underrated and imaginative children’s fantasy. Highly recommended whimsy.

TJMar 21, 2002 at 12:30PM

The “Choose Your Own Adventure” Series…

LMar 21, 2002 at 12:42PM

Someone already beat me to it but The Great Brain series was incredible.

KevinMar 21, 2002 at 2:45PM

As a kid, from 8 till 14 or so, I had a heavy Sci Fi/Fantasy bent (like most young geeks). Favorites (that I still read) are:

The Black Caldron
LOTR & The Hobbit
Owls In The Family (go figure…)

cloudboyMar 21, 2002 at 3:15PM

i remember i really really loved the “Maniac Magee” books. I think there were a couple of them. The main character was the ultimate reality escape for a kid (me) who wanted to run away and see the world.

Jerry KindallMar 21, 2002 at 4:05PM

The “Alvin Fernald” books by Clifford B. Hicks. They were about the adventures of a young boy inventor and showed me it could be cool to be a nerd.

RobhousenMar 21, 2002 at 5:25PM

Definitely John Bellairs… Too bad the new versions of his books aren’t using the original Edward Gorey illustrations.

dMar 21, 2002 at 8:29PM

- lynne reid banks and “the indian in the cupboard” series
- roald dahl just about anything, especially “james and the giant peach”
- for some reason when i was really young i remember loving the entire berenstain bear series…
- skinnybones!
- i am currently a huge fan of “the stinky cheeseman and other fairly stupid tales”
- i still love “ill love you forever”
- “the velevetten rabbit”
- mad libs, when you could fill in the word “underwear” for almost any blank and it was just hilarious…ah grade school potty humour! but do those really count as books?
- bridge to terebithia
- sarah plain and tall
- of course dr seuss. my person fav was “one fish, two fish”

maybe you read some of them, i dunno. but this list here previous to mine brought back some fanTAStic memories. im sure that next time i go home ill read some of them again…

Peter BeardsleyMar 21, 2002 at 8:34PM

I remember loving this book The 18th Emergency as wee lad. Unfortunately it’s OOP, but if you see it used, grab it.

Pinkwater and the Great Brain series were also known to rock the 5th grade house.

Liza MuellerMar 21, 2002 at 9:09PM

! the macdonald hall books! i think i still have them in my parent’s basement!
*the BFG - roald dahl
*the angelina books…i can’t find them, but they were wonderful children’s books about a mouse….beautiful illustrations
*anything by lawrence yep (spelling?) i think one was dragonwings
oh and so much more…i always had my head in a book as a kid…to have that kind of time now would be heaven.

shaunaMar 21, 2002 at 11:21PM

GORDON KORMAN! You bloody legend, Jason. I loved the McDonald Hall books, read them endlessly. Noone over here in Australia I talk to seems to have read ‘em except for my sister and I.

Did you ever read GK’s Who Is Bugs Potter? It was a true laugh-out-loud classic. Anyway. This was a nice nostalgia trip. Do you ever wonder if you read them again now would they still be as brilliant? Surely they would be. Cheers!

gweebleMar 22, 2002 at 9:32AM

C.S. Lewis stuff, *nods emphatically*

child othe 70sMar 22, 2002 at 11:03AM

Does anybody remember a book called “SUPERWEASEL”? It’s about a trio of kids who pull off anti-pollution stunts around their town, like little EarthFirst-ers. The alter ego was a superhero called, for reasons I cannot recall, Superweasel. anything??

anjaMar 23, 2002 at 2:30PM

the westing game. wow. the westing game was the best book pretty much ever.

trumped by the *bagthorpes*. classic ‘eccentric family’ setup with the hottie aupair, bitter writer dad, vague mom and genius siblings except for the 11year old antihero and his dog zero. hilarious funny. kinda nick hornsby for the judy bloom crowd.

caution tape: the first 4 books in the series only. at 5 welsh ghosts come in and the whole thing goes to hell.

fine print: out of print in the us. but well worth going to amazon.co.uk and eating the shipping fee.

anjaMar 23, 2002 at 2:41PM

oh wait
hornsby with an s was a bruce and with the range. damn. i meant the nick no s author-slash-music critic one. blushing.

the books remain brilliant.

edward millerMar 23, 2002 at 10:09PM

“The Hot Zone” by Richard Preston.
Most of the Crichton books.
Oh and “Silence of the Lambs”, Clarice.

williamMar 24, 2002 at 12:25AM

Hatchet by Paulsen.

demitria monde thraamMar 24, 2002 at 9:53AM

Robert C. O’Brien wrote, as far as I know, only two books: Mrs Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, and The Silver Crown.

I absolutely loved both books as a child and never found anything like them by any other author.

Mrs Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, later made into the movie The Secret of NIMH which had altogether not enough to do with the book’s original story, might remind one of E. B White’s Charlotte’s Web a little, with the talking animals acting like humans thing, but it really got a lot weirder as the story went on.

And despite its fairy tail-ish title, The Silver Crown, is a gripping little story that gets weirder and scarier as it goes on - almost too scary for a kid, with its malignant mind control machines and all - it most certainly was a base inspiration in my strange art later on as an adult. Too bad it was not very well-known: it’s the best adventure story I ever read as a child, bar none.

vanessaMar 24, 2002 at 6:41PM

a little late in the game, i suppose, but i still want to contribute.

it’s quite obvious i’m a kid of canadian literature:

- the ‘Booky’ series by Bernice Thurman Hunter: about a girl in Toronto during the great depression. wonderful fodder.
- The Sky Is Falling by Kit Pearson, and the sequels: about british kids that get sent to canada during WWII
- Number The Stars by Lois Lowry (and all her other books too)
- From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler: god this was fantastic!
- All Roald Dahl

i also read trashier books like
- The Plants that Ate Dirty Socks by Nancy McArthur (does anyone remember this??)
- The Babysitters Club (dear god)
- Christopher Pike and R.L. Stine horrors
- Wayside School is Falling Down (i think i read this about 10 times)

i went to amazon.com to look up some of these books and it’s sad to see how many are OOP… how many people are never going to hear of these books. i now have a hankering to go through boxes in my parents house and find these stories!

dr strongbadMar 25, 2002 at 4:46PM

it’s “Mike Fink”, of course. http://www.sru.edu/depts/library/imc/FolkTales/fink.htm.

am i the only geezer round these parts?

nobodyMar 25, 2002 at 6:57PM

Henry Huggins! Wow! I feel so nostaligic, now.

“Ellen Grae” and everything else by Vera and Bill Cleaver except for “Where the Lilies Bloom” which I, being a cunning and foul middle-schooler, suspected was pap. Didn’t even see the Hallmark Hall of Fame made for TV movie.

When I was tiny, I loved “Mister Penny’s Circus.” It was with this book that I first understood that each book is unique, and dependable. Also, it had animals and that goes a long way with me, still.

willMar 26, 2002 at 11:58PM

My favourite authors as a kid were the previously mentioned Gordon Korman, Roald Dahl and C.S. Lewis.

I just realised what a lucky kid I was.

This thread is closed to new comments. Thanks to everyone who responded.