Five Family Favorites with Emily Franklin
Hip-hip-hooray Emily Franklin is in The Children’s Book Review house today! She is the author of over a dozen novels for teens and young adults including The Half-Life of Planets (nominated for Best Young Adult of the Year) and Tessa Masterson Will Go to Prom (selected for the Rainbow List 2013). Before becoming a writer, she was a chef and thus, after giving birth to four kids, wrote the cookbook-memoir Too Many Cooks: Kitchen Adventures with 1 Mom, 4 Kids, and 102 New Recipes. Her books for adults include the novels Liner Notes and The Girls’ Almanac. She lives outside of Boston with her husband, their four kids, and a giant beast of a dog who models himself on Nana from Peter Pan, only with more drool. Thanks to Emily for her marvelous list of books we’ll soon be looking up.
I was the kind of kid who found no greater pleasure than finding myself wrapped up in a book. Now I’m the kind of grown-up with a stack of books by the bed, another in the car in case I have to wait in a pick-up line at school, and maybe another in my office for when I need a break from my own writing. I live in a house with floor-to-ceiling shelves unable to contain the paperbacks and hardcovers. And I always pictured reading to my children, hoping that they would find similar delight in the pages. My kids are varied readers – one is never without a book, one is picky about books the way he is about which vegetables to eat (yes to carrots, no to peas, yes to Judy Blume, no to Droon). I can’t predict which books will earn a place on their list of favorites, but I read with them still, or listen to them read, or at least talk about books with them. There is no feeling quite like the snuggling of warm children around me, both of us together but transported by words to a place we can only visit on the page or in our imaginations.
By Evelyn Scott
I can still hear my grandfather’s deep voice as he read this to me. I knew then that I would read this to my kids and sure enough, all four of them have studied the various honey flavors and hollowed out trees decorated for each of the fourteen bears in this timeless tale of a large family in two seasons. No technology, no fancy locales, just the woods in sun and snow and enjoying time together.
Ages 2-5 | Publisher: Random House Children’s Books| April 26, 2005
By Maira Kalman
Maira Kalman is pure fun, with a dog poet who leaves New York for Paris, finding inspiration and love along the way. Hilarious language, quotable scenes, and Kalman’s whimsical paintings make this a re-read. When my oldest son (now 13) was two, he laughed at all of the rhymes (“he hit me in the head with a stale French bread”), and my husband and I still quote the book. (Note: this is part of a series, the next one is Max in Hollywood, Baby)
Ages 4-8 | Publisher: Penguin Group| October 15, 1991
I holed up in my room and read this novel in one day when I was 9, the same age as Garnet Linden, the main character of this wonderful book. I have reread the novel many times since, and with my oldest son and my daughter. Garnet lives on a farm in Wisconsin in the 1930s, dreaming of the harvest fair and showing her prize runt. Each chapter is a story itself, which makes for perfect timing at bed. Garnet’s adventures – getting stuck in the library overnight, swimming during a heatwave, leaving the farm on her own for the first time – are simple, but vivid in details and completely absorbing, even for city kids. (Newbery Award winner of 1938)
Publisher: Bantam Doubleday Dell Books for Young Readers| March 28, 1991
By Adam Rex
My son and I laughed so hard reading this book! 12-year-old Gratuity narrates this wild story that has her driving cross-country in search of her alien-abducted mother. But she’s not alone on this journey – she befriends an alien (who are Boovs) called J. Lo. For such a funny book, the pages have depth and compelling action, social awareness and lots for a boy and his mother to talk about and laugh together.
Ages 8-12 | Publisher: Hyperion| May 5, 2009
How I wanted to be a part of this large family! Shabbat, L’chaim, Lox on Rye Bread, half a penny’s worth of candy from the sweet shop down the block. This book is the immigrant experience, the Jewish experience, and a heart-warming story of five sisters and their parents in the turn of the century (1800s to 1900s) in New York. This book explains many Jewish holidays, but is relatable for everyone. Vivid details – the smell of Papa’s rag business, the taste of broken crackers snuck into bed one night between giggling sisters – are what made me read this book as a child and then again with my three older children. This book also was a great way for me to ask my own grandparents about their experiences when they were young — stories I can pass on to my kids today. I’ve read it to the three older kids – one more to go!
Ages 8-12 | Publisher: Yearling| June 1, 1980
Books are shared imaginary spaces – and someone else’s stories are a way for me to share my own with my kids so that they might open up to me with their own tales of woe or wonder. May you find such comfort, laughs, and inspiration in these pages.
Nicki Richesin is the author and editor of four anthologies; Crush, What I Would Tell Her, Because I Love Her, and The May Queen. She is the San Francisco correspondent for Du Jour and a frequent contributor to Sunset, The Horn Book, 7×7, The Huffington Post, and Daily Candy. Find her online at www.nickirichesin.com.