Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Favorite Children's book of all time...

Michelle over at My Semblance of Sanity just hit her 300th blog post!  Wow!  I haven't yet hit that 100 mark so that is quite an accomplishment on her part.  Anyway, Michelle is a children's book writer and she has asked the readers of her blog to post about their favorite children's books (of course, there is a contest involved in which even you can win an original piece of artwork done by Michelle---I own one and I love it and they would make wonderful gifts for the upcoming holidays!--just go to her site and read for details.)  So on with my entry!!!

I am having a problem coming up with just one favorite children's book because...well, because I love to read and books are my passion, so I will have to tell you about my top two (Sorry, Michelle, I just couldn't narrow it down any further!).  So here they are...

sidewalk ends book

This has to be my all-time favorite in poetry books.  I am sure that it doesn't hold a candle to the classic poets but it's right up my alley.  The reason it's my favorite?  It's all about the memories people, all about the memories...

When I was in sixth grade, I attended a normal elementary school in a very different way than most of the kids.  I was in an experimental "country school classroom" which meant that I was in a regular size classroom in the regular school but with a twist.  There were first through sixth graders all in the same classroom with only three of us in the sixth grade that attended the class.  We were taught the normal sixth grade lessons but also got the hands on experience of helping the younger kids with their learning, meaning that we were teachers as well as students.  We left the comfort of our room to attend D.A.R.E and other special programs with our "regular sixth grade classmates" so as not to miss out on anything special. 

Our principal was a round, gray-haired man and he liked to pay special attention to our classroom because it was such a change of pace.  Every Friday, he would come in to the room and read us poems from "Where the Sidewalk Ends" by Shel Silverstein using animated gestures and interesting voices.  We always sat in rapt attention; riveted by the man and drawn into the stories within the poems.  I can still to this day, hear his voice in my head reciting "Boa Constrictor".  His willingness to put himself out there in front of us every week fostered a love of reading in my moldable little being. 

mulberry street book

Next up, "And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street" by Dr. Seuss.  To be fair, you must know that I love just about anything by Dr. Suess (at least the stuff written for children, as I have yet to read all of his more political based adult writing) but this book reminds me of me when I was young.  The tales that the boy comes up with, his imagination running wild, speaks to my inner child like no other book.  I am prone to exaggerations (still to this day) as was the boy in the book and I have this inner voice that always tells me that no one will believe the story I tell about my life because although true, it is beyond some people's grasp of reality can be.  Much to my delight (and sometimes horror), my beloved son has my imagination through and through.  His exaggerations are a bit bigger but the premise is the same and his imagination is great.

Those are my top two favorite children's books.  Both of them take me back to my childhood and you can bet they are both on my bookshelf at home for my own kids to love and enjoy. 

What are your favorites?  Really?  Well, hop on over to My Semblance of Sanity and read the rules and then write up an entry about your faves so that you, too can win some original artwork for the child in you!


Kim Wheedleton said...

I agree - Shel Silverstein just has no equal. What are your favorites from Where the Sidewalk Ends? I would have to say "Warning" is my top pick. "For Sale" is another one - have you heard him recite this one? Too funny! And "The One Who Stayed" - now there's a great argument for not letting life pass you by.

Tanya said...

I love children's books. Dr. Seuss and Shel Silverstein rock. So does Roald Dahl. I have a wonderful friend who I've known since college who was born in England and grew up reading some of the darkly funny poems by British writers. When we were in college, she used to amuse me by reciting this poem about the things that can happen to naughty children:

Jim, Who Ran Away From His Nurse And Was Eaten By A Lion

By Hilaire Belloc

There was a Boy whose name was Jim;
His Friends were very good to him.
They gave him Tea, and Cakes, and Jam,
And slices of delicious Ham,
And Chocolate with pink inside
And little Tricycles to ride,
And read him Stories through and through,
And even took him to the Zoo.
But there it was the dreadful Fate
Befell him, which I now relate.

You know - or at least you ought to know,
For I have often told you so -
That Children never are allowed
To leave their Nurses in a Crowd;
Now this was Jim’s especial Foible,
He ran away when he was able,
And on this inauspicious day
He slipped his hand and ran away!

He hadn’t gone a yard when - Bang!
With open Jaws, a lion sprang,
And hungrily began to eat
The Boy: beginning at his feet.
Now, just imagine how it feels
When first your toes and then your heels,
And then by gradual degrees,
Your shins and ankles, calves and knees,
Are slowly eaten, bit by bit.
No wonder Jim detested it!
No wonder that he shouted “Hi!”

The Honest Keeper heard his cry,
Though very fat he almost ran
To help the little gentleman.
“Ponto!” he ordered as he came
(For Ponto was the Lion’s name),
“Ponto!” he cried, with angry Frown,
“Let go, Sir! Down, Sir! Put it down!”
The Lion made a sudden stop,
He let the Dainty Morsel drop,
And slunk reluctant to his Cage,
Snarling with Disappointed Rage.
But when he bent him over Jim,
The Honest Keeper’s Eyes were dim.
The Lion having reached his Head,
The Miserable Boy was dead!

When Nurse informed his Parents, they were more Concerned than I can say:
His Mother, as She dried her eyes,
Said, “Well - it gives me no surprise,
He would not do as he was told!”
His Father, who was self-controlled,
Bade all the children round attend
To James’s miserable end,
And always keep a-hold of Nurse
For fear of finding something worse.