Fun Friday: Kid Lit

One of my current book projects is a middle-grade book, so I’ve been thinking lately about my favorite books when I was around 9 to 12. Even more so, I’m trying to pin down what it was that I really liked about them. Here’s a smattering:

A Wrinkle in Time / A Swiftly Tilting Planet
Of course I love that there is space travel and time travel, but I remember most of all loving that there was a tween romance that wasn’t sappy, a super-smart weird little brother, and these amorphous bizarre beings with the whimsical names of Mrs. Who, Mrs. Which, and Mrs. Whatsit. As an adult, I particularly love Mrs. Murphy as a woman who balances a science career and four kids (famously cooking meals on her Bunsen burner!).

The Saturdays / Spiderweb: A Melendy Maze for Two
I wanted to be a kid in this “old-fashioned” family, indepently roaming city streets to go to an opera or an art gallery, hearing stories about abductions by gypsies, and summering on the beach! The best part was that these kids resourcefully made their own adventures.

Time at the Top
This book’s quirky illustrations, narrator, bizarre narrative structure, and never-explained-magical-interference charmed me even more than the time-travel plot itself. It was also one of the first books I read with an obviously flawed heroine that was still likeable.

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
This book had me from the title alone–but the concept of two kids running away and living independently for a month in a museum became my dream life. I still can’t enter a public bathroom without trying to figure out how I’d hide in it like Jamie and the ever-practical Claudia.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory / Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator
My childhood having occurred before the age of Lemony Snicket, I have Roald Dahl to thank for my first interest in gothic fiction. These were the least-so of his books, but the most-beloved to me for the hilarious grandparent characters and the no-holds-barred imaginative worlds Dahl created. I’m still impressed by the adult-level humor he included.

What were your favorite childhood books, and why?


8 thoughts on “Fun Friday: Kid Lit

  1. Lisa Gail Green says:

    OMG you are the first person I’ve come across that knows Time at the Top!! I loved that book. My mother (librarian) introduced it to me. I also loved The Phantom Tollbooth!

  2. Claire says:

    I second A Wrinkle in Time (and also A Wind in the Door). The main thing I remember from Way Back When is how much I adored swoonworthy-without-being-obvious-about-it Calvin, the lovely relationship between Meg and Charles Wallace, and how much IT scared the ever-living poo out of me.

    Also, Into the Land of the Unicorns by Bruce Coville. Why? Um. It’s about unicorns. Snarky ones. And an awesome dragon. And a seriously scary villain, Beloved. And a fierce, brave, but still very real heroine, Cara.

    The Painted Devil/A Darker Magic by Michael Bedard. THESE BOOKS SCARED ME OH SO MUCH. And I loved it.

    Anything Roald Dahl. I remember devouring and adoring Matilda, James and the Giant Peach, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. They’re just so…WEIRD. And scary/disturbing with that sense of humor. And not just any sense of humor; a dry, BRITISH sense of humor. ❤

    Basically, the weird, dark, and scary (and beautifully written!) has always been a huge draw for me.

    Yay, fun post! 😀

    • Claire says:

      Oh YES YES YES, Lisa! The Phantom Tollbooth, DEFINITELY. God, how could I forget that?? THE PUNS. THE DELIGHTFUL PUNS. And Tock the dog. ❤ I love how that book was so smart and took the intelligence of its younger readers so seriously.

  3. Adventures in Children's Publishing says:

    You’ve hit some of my absolute favorites. I also loved The Eagle of the Ninth and The Mark of the Horse Lord by Rosemary Sutcliffe, and Traveler in Time by Alison Uttley. Plus The Earthsea Trilogy, Tolkein, Court of the Stone Children and A Spell is Cast by Eleanor Cameron, Shakespeare’s As You Like It and The Tempest, T.H. White’s Sword in the Stone, anything by Lucy Boston, Lloyd Alexander, Marguerite Henry, and so many more. How do I even choose?

    I loved what I still love: books that transport me into the story and weave a magical spell strong enough to bury themselves deep into my heart.

    Fun post! And thanks for the trip down memory lane 😀


    • Starr Hoffman says:

      oooo, more titles to add to my to-read list! thanks!!

      wow, i’m wondering how i left The Hobbit and Lloyd Alexander’s Prydain series off this list… perhaps because i was a little older the first time i read them, around 8th grade.

  4. Jenne Turner says:

    I enjoyed the Wrinkle in Time book (wasn’t there more than one though?) and I loved anything by Louisa May Alcott. I liked reading about other girls and women in other time periods or different cultures. However, I recently reread Little Women as an adult for one of my book clubs and I did not like it! This was one that as soon as I finished it, I would start it all over again when I was a tween. I wonder how many other books that I liked during that time period would stand up to an adult rereading? I liked Pearl Buck back then and I still like reading her stuff today so maybe some will still hold up.

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