Lauren Wolk | The Children’s Book Review | May 15, 2016
Just five? Good grief. That’s like saying, “Which organ do you need to live?” Let’s assume that books like Goodnight Moon and Charlotte’s Web and the Pooh books are a given. Actually, there are 100s of “givens.” But here are five that strike the bell most loudly when I think of my own childhood and the joy of reading to my sons.
Written by Munro Leaf
Illustrated by Robert Lawson
This is a story about a bull who refuses to be bullied into being bullish. What a great character. I read this to my sons over and over and over again. Now in their twenties, they are both Buddhists. Hmmm.
Ages 3-5 | Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap | ISBN-13: 978-0448456942
Written by Frank Asch
Illustration by Vladimir Vagan
This book was published after I had already grown up, but I had the vast pleasure of reading it a squillion times to my kids. Beautifully written and illustrated, it conveys a great message about living together in peace … but that’s not why I read it to my kids or why they loved it. That was just the icing. All of it is delicious.
Ages 3-8 | Publisher: McSweeney’s McMullens | ISBN-13: 978-1936365418
Written and Illustrated by Wanda Gag
For as long as I live, a part of me will be a little girl snuggled up next to her mother at bedtime, listening to this book. And another part of me will be a young mother, reading it to my sons as they snuggle up with me. So simple. So dear. Like all the best things in life.
Ages 2-5 | Publisher: Puffin Books | ISBN-13: 978-0142407080
Bread and Jam for Frances or any of that series
Written Russell Hoban
Illustrated by Lillian Hoban
Picture me in a posh restaurant, all dressed up, and quite aware, as I finish my splendid meal, that I’ve made it “come out even” just like Frances and Albert, the world’s most darling badgers. (But they are also fully-formed, complex characters!) Old fashioned and quietly funny, those books are as sweet as the jam that Frances loves.
Ages 4-8 | Publisher: HarperCollins | 978-0060838003
The Adventures of Jimmy Skunk or any of the Thornton Burgess books
Written by Thornton Burgess
The adventures of Jimmy Skunk and Reddy Fox and Peter Cottontail and all their many friends are magical. Of course, my mother reading them to me was the wand that made the magic even more potent, but even on their own, these stories are doors to a world children really ought to visit, as often as possible, to fire their imaginations and make them fall in love with books for life.
Ages 8-14 | Publisher: Dover Publications | 978-0486280233
About Lauren Wolk
Lauren Wolk is an award-winning poet, artist, and author of the adult novel Those Who Favor Fire. She was born in Baltimore and has since lived in California, Rhode Island, Minnesota, Canada, and Ohio. She now lives with her family on Cape Cod. Wolf Hollow is her first novel for young people.
Written by Lauren Wolk
Publisher’s Synopsis: Growing up in the shadows cast by two world wars, Annabelle has lived a mostly quiet, steady life in her small Pennsylvania town. Until the day new student Betty Glengarry walks into her class. Betty quickly reveals herself to be cruel and manipulative, and while her bullying seems isolated at first, things quickly escalate, and reclusive World War I veteran Toby becomes a target of her attacks. While others have always seen Toby’s strangeness, Annabelle knows only kindness. She will soon need to find the courage to stand as a lone voice of justice as tensions mount.
Brilliantly crafted, Wolf Hollow is a haunting tale of America at a crossroads and a time when one girl’s resilience and strength help to illuminate the darkest corners of our history.
“The honesty of Wolf Hollow will just about shred your heart, but Annabelle’s courage and compassion will restore it to you, fuller than before. This book matters.” —Sara Pennypacker, New York Times bestselling author of Pax
“An evocative setting, memorable characters, a searing story: Wolf Hollow has stayed with me long after I closed the book. It has the feel of an instant classic.” —Linda Sue Park, Newbery Medalist and New York Times bestselling author
Ages 10-13 | Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers | 2016 | ISBN-13: 978-1101994825