Find this Children's Book
December 31, 2004 3:48 AM   Subscribe

My daughter is 7 and getting to the point where she is reading for enjoyment - I also enjoy reading more advanced books to her. I'm trying to remember the title of a children's book I read myself, back in the early 80s. [MI]

It was about a young boy and girl who became best friends, and adopted a dog together which may have been named "Prince" I think they spent a great deal of time on an island near their house, on their own in a tree-house or something. The boy might have been very poor. Possibly someone died at the end of the book - it was traumatic enough to make a 12 year old boy (me) cry at the end. I seem to remember a shiny gold seal on the front, so maybe it won a Newberry or Caldecott or something. Sorry, I know this isn't much ...
posted by Dag Maggot to Media & Arts (31 answers total)
I recall "Homer Price and the Doughnut Machine" and Sendak's "Where Wild Things Are" as favorites. "Mr Popper's Penguins" sticks in my mind. There's always the "Little House on the Prairie", etc.
posted by RavinDave at 4:05 AM on December 31, 2004

Sounds like it's "Bridge to Terabithia" by Katherine Paterson, I think. Their "island kingdom" is Terabithia, and I think the girl dies at the end. Man, I cried like a baby when my teacher read it to us.
posted by goatdog at 4:45 AM on December 31, 2004

Ooops ... my bad. Thought you were asking for suggestions.
posted by RavinDave at 4:46 AM on December 31, 2004

Thanks Goatdog - that's the one. That was fast!

I too bawled at the shock surprise ending. Funny I looked through the Newberry winners, but skimmed over the 70s, I thought it would have been an '80s book.

Thanks for the suggestions also RavinDave, we are looking for new books. Also going to get A Wrinkle in Time, which first turned me on to SF as a kid. Oh - and Happy New Year...
posted by Dag Maggot at 4:58 AM on December 31, 2004

If you're just trying to make your child cry, Reading Charlottes Web used to do it for me. Every time.
posted by seanyboy at 5:03 AM on December 31, 2004

Assuming you can find it, there was a tv/movie adaptation of Bridge to Terebithia that struck my nine-year-old mind as decent.

It was the first time I had seen a film treatment of a book I'd read, and that was a good experience. And that is indeed a good kids book.
posted by Mayor Curley at 5:09 AM on December 31, 2004

For the production of tears, nothing beats Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls. I tear up just thinking about it. Can I use your hankie?

On preview: The 1985 film of "Bridge" is on DVD now, and it looks like there's another film version in the works.
posted by goatdog at 5:14 AM on December 31, 2004

Well the goal isn't specifically to induce tears - but maybe subconsciously that is what I'm doing. Sometimes I'm worried that my kids think life is a Disney movie - not that they watch them often, but so many books, movies etc. seem to candy coat for children.

Charlottes Web was a good one too. God - when she died, and then all the little baby spiders came out of her carcass after eating her organs.... not a dry eye in the house.

Other emotional response creating book suggestions welcomed.
posted by Dag Maggot at 5:16 AM on December 31, 2004

I can't recommend the "Rinko" series by Yoshiko Uchida enough. The are absolutely wonderful stories about a Japanese girl growing up in California during the great depression and how she learns to deal with racism and her own heritage. The first book is entitled "A Jar of Dreams", the second is "The Best Bad Thing" and the third is "The Happiest Ending."
posted by pookzilla at 5:38 AM on December 31, 2004

Number The Stars by Lois Lowry. It's set during the holocaust about a little girl trying to help protect her Jewish girlfriend. It's got sad parts f'sure, but it's about courage and loyalty and a young girl is the heroine.
posted by raedyn at 6:10 AM on December 31, 2004

Rinko and Number the Stars look great - and I think would be especially appealing to my daughter because of the female protagonists.

I'm wondering how much reality is too much though ... I might get them and read them first ... and then decide on the appropriate introduction age. I very much enjoy reading good children's books myself.
posted by Dag Maggot at 6:22 AM on December 31, 2004

Seven Little Australians by Ethel Turner makes me bawl my eyes out every time I read it (every few years or so). It's the story of an Australian family and all the little things they get themselves into - think Anne of Green Gables or Little Women, but a little more sporty and less girly, and it has a really bittersweet ending. And the Australian setting makes it a nice introduction to other cultures etc (assuming you're not from Australia!). Man, just thinking about it tugs at the heartstrings...
posted by widdershins at 6:23 AM on December 31, 2004

Thanks Widdershins - I'll have to check that out, because funnily enough I am from Australia - sitting on the Gold Coast this very moment. (half past midnight, Happy New Years again)
posted by Dag Maggot at 6:28 AM on December 31, 2004

The Neverending Story by Michael Ende
posted by kamylyon at 6:33 AM on December 31, 2004

Daniel Manus Pinkwater's children's books are not sad, but they are a great Disney antidote.
posted by kmel at 8:08 AM on December 31, 2004

My Side of The Mountain was one my childhood favorites.
posted by Danelope at 8:35 AM on December 31, 2004

Some more recommendations: The Big Joke Game by Scott Corbett; Edward Eager's "magic" books; Eleanor Cameron's "Mushroom Planet" books; Stranger from the Depths; The Mouse and the Motorcycle; the "Great Brain" books; The Phantom Tollbooth; and the "Big Red" and "Black Stallion" series.
posted by rushmc at 8:36 AM on December 31, 2004

Oh, and Journey From Peppermint Street by DeJong.
posted by rushmc at 8:37 AM on December 31, 2004

The Phantom Tollbooth was so wonderful. I remember liking the Great Brain, and Encylopedia Brown, but I honestly don't remember that much about them. I have vivid recollections of all of Roald Dahl and CS Lewis, though... Oh, and The Little Prince...
posted by mdn at 8:51 AM on December 31, 2004

Many of these suggestions are quite thematically advanced for a seven-year-old. They are terrific books, don't get me wrong, but I would venture the idea that Island of the Blue Dolphines, A Wrinkle in Time, and Number the Stars will go over much better around age 9, 10, or 11. These are all pre-teen weepers, very serious and quite sophisticated in content and much of the content may go right over her head and bore/confuse her.. unless she's seriously advanced. I understand that you want to stretch her imagination, but a lot of magic can be lost when a child and a book aren't the right age for each other.

The recommendations here that look like winners for a newish chapter-book reader include: Homer Price, the Great Brain, the Phantom Tollbooth (although that's also more typically a 4th-grade type of thing), Edward Eager, E. B. White (Stuart Little and Charlotte's Web, especially), and the Little House series. For reading on her own, I found all the Beverly Cleary books addictive at that age, and there are, oh-I-dunno, more than 20 of ' that could keep her busy for a while.

You might want to ask a good children's librarian for suggestions or a reading list. Maybe there's a school librarian she likes, but if not, try your local libraries. Those people are experts at this stuff!
posted by Miko at 8:59 AM on December 31, 2004

I second The Neverending Story (the movie only goes about half way into the book, and the remainder of the book is excellent), and The Phantom Tollbooth.

For a seven year old some humour would probably be good... The Giggler Treatment fits the sense of humour of a seven Year old beautifully. Also anything by Rould Dahl.

I used to love reading the Booky books (That Scatterbrain Booky, With Love Booky, and As Ever Booky) because they were set in Toronto and though Booky was born 50 years before I was, she often went to the same places I did and did many of the same things. If you can find books set in your city at a different time, I'm sure your daughter would be interested.
posted by duck at 9:01 AM on December 31, 2004

don't underestimate the Captain Underpants books--kids that age LOVE them. There are also great history/biography books for that age, and the American Girl series might be good too.
posted by amberglow at 10:23 AM on December 31, 2004

Bridge to Teribithia was a favorite book of mine as a kid-- another great series was the Encyclopedia Brown series of mini mysteries, The Gift, Narnia, and of course Judy Blume stuff.
In response to some of the comments about books being too old for your parents never assigned me books, they just sort of aimed me at the shelf and I read whatever I wanted. I think I was reading Micheal Creighton and Asimov stuff when I was about nine. I'd say let her read what she wants (within limits), and be there to clarify, answer questions, and screen a little bit. IANAP though, so this is just my opinion being pulled out of my arse.
posted by stray at 10:37 AM on December 31, 2004

The Neverending Story is wonderful, but I think Momo is Michael Ende's best book, and still one of my favorites. The book I must most recommend is King Matt the First by Janusz Korczak, truly a classic and one that has unfortunately remained unknown in North America. The amazon page I linked to has some background information (Korczak was a very remarkable person) and this page has a bit more.
posted by ori at 10:43 AM on December 31, 2004

I read The Hobbit at age 7, and then worked my way through the Lord of the Rings.

Yeah, I didn't catch everything (for example, I totally missed the love triangle in LOTR), but I loved the books all the same.

So I say give her a bunch of options - stuff targeted for her age, stuff that might be more challenging... let her figure out what she wants to read.

I spent a lot of time in the non-fiction shelves at that age, too, checking out stuff on the Titanic, WWII, and biographies. I loved biographies.

(ooh, and The Boxcar Children. But if you go with those, stick with the original ones by Gertrude Chandler Warner - I think there's only 10 or 11 - and not the later ones written by ghostwriters. The later ones suck ass.)
posted by emmling at 10:59 AM on December 31, 2004

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, Harriet the Spy, Ramona and Beezus, and Misty of Chincoteague were favorites of mine at that age.

And The Wind in the Willows.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:14 AM on December 31, 2004

Start Susan Cooper's The Dark is Rising series as something to read to her now, and she can finish up the set on her own in a year or two. I think I read them first in third grade, and every few years thereafter, and they got better each time. 5 books total, very magical with Arthurian overtones that I didn't get until much later.
posted by donnagirl at 12:01 PM on December 31, 2004

L. Frank Baum's Oz series is a lot of fun.

[Sorry, the big A was the only place I found all 14 books]
posted by kamylyon at 12:46 PM on December 31, 2004

At seven I was reading a lot of Bobbsey Twins and Trixie Belden - a mystery reader from way back, and my grandmother found them cheap at used book sales.

I also loved Cynthia Voigt's Homecoming which would probably suit a nine-year-old or older, especially since it has some complex ideas for a young child. And I second Widdershin's recommendation of Seven Little Australians. It never failed to make me cry, although the language and style might be a struggle for a 7-year-old. It was written in the 1870s-80s, I think. It'd be a great way for her to learn what it was like to live back then.
posted by tracicle at 1:27 PM on December 31, 2004

Emotional books (both for 9-12 year-olds, according to Amazon): A Taste of Blackberries (child's friend dies)

Tuck Everlasting (young girl falls in love, must choose between eternal life with this man or growing old & living life normally)

I also loved Bridge to Terebithia & Susan Cooper's Dark is Rising series. I still read the latter every year or two.
posted by belladonna at 2:08 PM on December 31, 2004

I read Nancy Drew along with the Trixie Belden series. Jim Kegerald (sp?) had a number of books with dogs as the main characters. The Chronicles of Narnia is also a good read. I'd second the "Wrinkle In Time" series as well.
posted by aedra at 10:01 PM on December 31, 2004

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