Isabel, Lolo and Elena's Lists: A selection of fiction and non-fiction books for children and young adult readers certain to make great holiday presents
by Jill Norgren
Here is an opportunity for grandparents and special friends looking for children and young adult books to hear straight from the mouths of young readers. Granddaughters, nine, twelve, and sixteen answered my simple question, “which four or five books did you most enjoy reading this past year?”
Nine year old Isabel headed her list with Mark Twain’s Tom Sawyer. She likes “the way he thinks … that he has a different mind.” She next recommended Walter Dean Meyers’s Bad Boy: A Memoir. She told me that it was set in Harlem and was “an autobiography that sounded like a story.”
Crying Rocks by Janet Taylor Lisle also made Isabel's list of good books. It is the story of an adopted child who is told different stories about where she was found. Isabel thought this book was “unique … one-of-a-kind,” and that it was interesting to find out the ending: a bit of a mystery story. Gloria Whelan’s Homeless Bird won a 2000 National Book award. Isabel liked reading about a girl, Koly who, married at the age of thirteen, faced extraordinary challenges making a life in India.
Isabel decided that younger siblings should not be forgotten. She brightened when mentioning Ezra Jack Keats' classic pre-school book, Whistle For Willie. Nancy Carlson’s How to Lose All Your Friends is a silly and useful book about manners. It makes Isabel giggle.
For kids eight and nine years old, Rafe Martin’s The Rough-Face Girl, which Isabel described as a Native American Cinderella story is a “first choice,” along Louis Sachar’s Wayside School series. Pearl Buck’s The Big Wave makes the cut along with — how could a book with this title not appeal — Thomas Rockwell’s How to Eat Friend Worms.
Isabel’s twelve year old cousin, Lolo, put Scott Westerfeld’s futuristic Uglies series first on her list of recommended books. The series has sold more than three million copies — who said children today do not read?
Painting: Girl Reading by a Window, Edmund C. Tarbell, 1909
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