Ellen Potter | The Children’s Book Review | August 16, 2016
I was never one of those girls who fantasized about their wedding day. Instead, I daydreamed about the bookshelves of my yet-to-be-born children. While still in my early twenties, I began stocking up on children’s books in anticipation of my future family. I chose the books I had loved as a child, confident that my Imaginary Family would share my passion for these classics.
As it turned out, my Real Family has vastly different literary tastes than my Imaginary Family.
Little House on the Prairie series
Written by Laura Ingalls Wilder
One of the first things I bought for my Imaginary Family was a boxed set of the Little House in the Prairie series. I was making minimum wage at the time, and the boxed set cost me a relative bundle. It was worth it though. Those books would no doubt become a favorite of my future little darlings, who would clamor around me in their unsoiled footie pajamas and with their squeaky clean ear canals, begging to hear more about the grasshopper plague on Plum Creek or the pig bladder ball.
My Real Family, however, thought that there was too much talk about pie.
Ages 8-12 | Publisher: Harper Trophy | ISBN-13: 978-0394800912
Written by Taro Gomi
Illustrated by Amanda Mayer Stinchecum
On the other hand, this was a great favorite of my Real Family. A classic in its own right, I don’t think further explanation is necessary.
Ages 2+ | Publisher: Kane/Miller Book Pub | ISBN-13: 978-1929132140
Written by Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Who could resist falling in love with the Buddha-esque Little Prince? Certainly not my Imaginary Family. My clever little munchkins instantly knew the drawing was of a boa constrictor digesting an elephant and they worried about the rose on Asteroid B-612—even if she was a diva. They sobbed at the end of the book. I had to console them with homemade bran muffins.
At the end of the book, my Real Family said, “What a bunch of weirdo’s. Who wrote this thing anyway?”
Ages 10+ | Publisher: Mariner Books | ISBN-13: 978-0156012195
Written by E. Nesbit
Isn’t it nice to know that kids in the19th century were just as naughty as kids are now? The Bastable children are some of my favorite hellions with hearts of gold. My Imaginary Family was charmed by this book. Plus, they figured out the identity of the unnamed narrator by the second page.
My Real Family thought the writer should just get to the part about the treasure already.
Ages 9-12 | Publisher: Hesperus Press | ISBN-13: 978-1843914747
Written by E.L. Koningsburg
Every so often my Imaginary Family and my Real Family are in agreement. This book is a favorite of both. My Imaginary Family was captivated by the mystery of whether the marble angel statue was indeed a Michelangelo and then discussed which museum gallery they would have slept in.
My Real Family found the book to be a useful primer on how to make some extra cash by collecting coins tossed in fountains.
Ages 8-12 | Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Reader | ISBN-13: 978-1416949756
About Ellen Potter
Ellen Potter is the author of many award-winning children’s books. Her most recent series is Piper Green & The Fairy Tree (Knopf), which was named one of New York Public Library’s 100 Books for Reading and Sharing, and was one of the ALSC 2016 Notable Children’s Books. She is also the author of the Olivia Kidney series, SLOB, The Kneebone Boy and many others middle-grade novels. Her non-fiction book, Spilling Ink: a Young Writer’s Handbook, was awarded a New York Public Library Top 100 Children’s Book for 2010 and a Children’s Literature Assembly 2011 Notable Book.
Born and raised in New York City, Ellen and her Real and Imaginary Family now live in Maine.
Written by Ellen Potter
Publisher’s Synopsis: Move over Junie B. Jones! Get to know Piper Green as she discovers the ordinary magic right outside her front door.
Piper Green is in for another adventure when she finds an unusual whistle hidden inside the Fairy Tree in her front yard. But Piper doesn’t want a whistle… she wants a pony! On a trip with her dad to check the family’s lobster traps, the whistle attracts the attention of an unexpected friend. Could the fairy whistle working its magic after all?
Ages 7-9 | Publisher: Yearling | 2016 | ISBN-13: 978-0553499346
Ellen Potter, author of the PIPER GREEN AND THE FAIRY TREE series, selected these five family favorites. Discover more articles on The Children’s Book Review tagged with Family Favorites, Erica S. Perl, Henry Cole, and Best Kids Stories.