Five Family Favorites with Christine Brodien-Jones
CHRISTINE BRODIEN-JONES is the author of three middle-grade fantasy adventure novels, The Glass Puzzle (Delacorte, 2013), The Scorpions of Zahir (Delacorte, 2012) and The Owl Keeper (Delacorte, 2010). Booklist magazine praised her writing, saying “Brodien-Jones mixes fantasy and adventure in a way that would make Indiana Jones feel right at home.” Ms. Brodien-Jones studied writing at Emerson College in Boston and has worked as a reporter, an editor, and a teacher. She divides her time between Gloucester, Massachusetts, and Deer Isle, Maine. Learn more about her life and work and download additional free discussion guides for her novels at her website: www.cbrodien-jones.com. Visit her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ChristineBrodienJones.
I had so much fun being the mother of two boys, and one of the best things was introducing them to books! My husband Peter and I read to Ian and Derek every night, and Peter made up an ongoing story—“The Island Wild Thing”—which he would narrate during car trips. There were always excursions to the library, of course. As for comic books, I remember the boys devouring “The Adventures of Tintin” by Hergé. On birthdays and at Christmas, all sorts of interesting books arrived on our doorstep, shipped across the sea from Wales and England, sent by Peter’s bookish relatives.
As a result, something wonderful happened: I rediscovered the magical world of children’s literature and began writing children’s stories and books of fantasy, the kind I loved to read when I was little. Ian and Derek ended up as characters in two of my novels! And now, years later, Derek’s one-year-old twin daughters are crazy about books. Little Lily’s first word was “book.”
I’d like to share five of our favorite books from that time long ago:
By John Birmingham
The Hargraves family baby refuses to hardly eat anything until, one day, his mother finds an avocado in the fruit bowl and the infant gobbles it up. My boys were amazed by this baby who, by eating avocados, develops superhuman strength, capable of picking up dad’s car and defending big sister and brother against bullies. This is one of many delightful picture books by author/illustrator John Birmingham. (Now, many years later, Derek’s twins adore avocados!)
Ages 3-7 | Publisher: Red Fox | 1994
By Maurice Sendak
No childhood reading would be complete without this quintessential, classic picture book! This timeless story of Max and the wild things can be enjoyed equally by both children and adults. Max doesn’t care that he’s been sent off to bed without supper. His room turns into a forest and he sails off to the island where the wild things are: he reigns over them as king until he longs for home again, returning to his room where his supper awaits him—and it’s “still hot.” Dreamy, imaginative, with fantastic color illustrations.
Ages 4-8 | Publisher: HarperCollins | 1963
A lovely bedtime read-aloud, beautifully illustrated with quiet, moonlit winter scenes. This imaginative story tells of the Tomten, a small gnome who lives mostly unnoticed on a Swedish farm, watching faithfully over the animals, telling them in “tomten” language that spring will come again. The words are like a lullaby, filled with magic, warmth and comfort. As my boys grew older, they read books for older children by Astrid Lindgren, including The Children of Noisy Village and The Brothers Lionheart.
Ages 4-8 | Publisher: Puffin; Reissue edition | October 6, 1997
By Roald Dahl
My boys were enchanted by this little math whiz/blitz-reader of books: an extraordinary, brilliant and lovable girl who defies the tyrannical headmistress Miss Trunchbull. My boys laughed themselves silly at Matilda’s supremely ridiculous parents, who can’t understand why she prefers books over television. Although there’s never any doubt that Matilda will triumph in the end, this captivating and humorous book is far from predictable.
Ages 7 and up | Publisher: Puffin; Reprint edition | August 16, 2007
By Ted Hughes
One of the favorites shipped from the British relatives was this one: a short, charming, simply-written modern fairy tale/science-fiction myth. A young boy called Hogarth befriends a mysterious giant “metal man” who wreaks havoc on the countryside by attacking farms and eating their machinery. Hogarth and this extraordinary being end up defending and saving the world from a terrifying “space-bat-angel-dragon” from outer space. A beautiful, mysterious story about understanding and tolerance.
Faber Children’s Books; New edition edition | March 3, 2005
Find out more about Christine Brodien-Jones at www.cbrodien-jones.com.