Saturday, May 19, 2012

Playing favorites

"Who would just pick up a grass snake and put it in their pocket?!?"

That's what Maddie said with surprise while reading Charlotte's Web at breakfast. We see small lizards all the time but not snakes - which is good because they'd probably be rattlesnakes around here. But that's what I love about books and why we've always encouraged our kids to read: it exposes them to worlds they otherwise would never know. So I explained how a grass snake is very small and harmless while she peppered me with questions. Would it squirm? Would it hiss? Would it wrap around you? Would it bite? In the end she decided she'd like one as a pet.
Kate has always been "the girl with her nose in a book" at our house but this school year Maddie has joined her.  She's read several from the Guardians series about owls, and I think maybe books about animals are key with her.  She recently finished Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH - one I enjoyed as a kid.  Someone on the Amazon Vine discussion forum recently asked about those favorites from your childhood that you've re-read, and how they held up. And I've read quite a few with the kids. Some were still great and others left me scratching my head as to what I ever saw in them.

Some hits:
  • The Great Brain series never seems to get old. I loved them as a kid and Braiden loved them when we read them about 10 years ago.
  • Same thing with The Three Investigators series - Braiden, Taylor, and Maddie have all enjoyed them. Granted, they're a bit dated, but still fun.
  • Taylor really liked It Started With Old Man Bean. I thought it was pretty good, too, but I was surprised at how smoking was presented in the story. Times have really changed!
  • Kate enjoyed The View From the Cherry Tree and The Push Cart War, although they weren't as good for a grownup. 
Some misses:
  • I must have read The Ash Staff, The Hawks of Fellheath, and The Princess and the Thorn by Paul Fisher three or four times, but Taylor and I gave up half-way through the second book.
  • We couldn't even finish The House With a Clock In Its Walls, although I remember it being another of my favorites.
  • Danny Dunn is another series that fell totally flat with Maddie. The science is seriously outdated now, but I loved it when I was her age.

So, what about you? For those who grew up before Harry Potter, have you re-read any books that were favorites when you were a kid? How do they stand up now?

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