Five Family Favorites with Carol Weston, Author of Ava XOX
Carol Weston | The Children’s Book Review | February 15, 2016
Written by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault
Illustrated by Lois Ehlert
Our family couldn’t get enough of this picturebook. It’s about letters and the music of words, and it’s playful and suspenseful. “A told B and B told C, “I’ll meet you at the top of the coconut tree.’” I bet my girls still know those rhymes by heart.
Ages 2+ | Publisher: Simon and Schuster | 1989 | ASIN: 1442450703
Adapted and Illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky
As a mom, I was a sucker for sing-alongs, and what better way to get little kids in a good mood than to have them join in the fun, with voices and fingers? No surprise that Paul O. Zelinsky’s pop-up book has been captivating kids for decades.
Ages 3-7 | Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers | 1990 | ISBN-13: 978-0525446446
Selected and Illustrated by Lisbeth Zwerger
Loved these as a kid and loved introducing them to my kids. Aesop fables – in whatever edition – are short, pithy, thought-provoking and conversation-starting. I got my moral compass from my parents and from Aesop. And I liked all the animal stories too. The fox and the grapes. The ant and the grasshopper. The dog in the manger. So many lessons, but never didactic.
Ages 5+ | Publisher: NorthSouth | 2006 | ISBN-13: 978-0735820692
Written by Beverly Cleary
My husband read this to our daughters, and I’d adored Ribsy as a child. Clearly Cleary has been entrancing kids for decades. Reading about Ramona also inspired me to write about Melanie Martin and Ava Wren and to give them realistic modern troubles. No dragons. No dystopias—just everyday struggles which seem very big to the very young.
Ages 8-12 | Publisher: HarperCollins | 2016 (Unstated Edition) | ISBN-13: 978-0380709564
Written by E.B. White
Illustrated by Garth Williams
This masterpiece sings the praises of friendship and writing. “It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer.” Ah, what’s not to like? My copy of E.B. White’s other classic, The Elements of Style, is as well-worn and dog-eared as his charming novel.
Ages 8-12 | Publisher: HarperCollins | 2012 | ISBN-13: 978-0739477076
More Family Favorites
Oh wait, wait, wait, am I cut off? So many other favorites! Who Said Red?, Feathers for Lunch, Grandfather Twilight, Harold and the Purple Crayon, Owl Moon, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and A Day No Pigs Would Die. And back when I was a kid, Are You My Mother? and Put Me in the Zoo made me mighty happy.
About Carol Weston
Carol Weston has been the “Dear Carol” advice columnist at Girls’ Life since 1994. She is the author of fourteen books including the two Ava Wren titles, The Diary of Melanie Martin (Knopf), three other Melanie diaries, and Girltalk: All the Stuff Your Sister Never Told You (Harper Perennial, Fourth Edition). She lives in New York City.
Written by Carol Weston
Publisher’s Synopsis: Love is in the air—and Ava thinks she’s allergic
Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, and Ava couldn’t care less. That is, until a new girl, Kelli, asks out Ava’s friend Chuck…and he says yes! What?!? Ava is NOT okay with this. But since when does she think about boys? For the first time ever, words fail Ava. She isn’t sure what she’s feeling (Like? Love? Friendship? Frustration?), or what “going out” even means. After all, fifth graders aren’t allowed to go anywhere by themselves, are they?
To top it off, Pip’s friend Tanya is being bullied for her size. Ava wants to help—but, uh oh, it’s not as easy as she imagines.
Ages 10-12 | Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky | 2016 | ISBN-13: 978-1492620778
Excerpt from Ava XOX
DEAR NEW DIARY,
I’m pretty upset about what happened today.
My new friend Zara asked if I’d heard about Chuck.
“No, what about him?” I said.
“He and Kelli are going out,” she said.
“How do you know?” I asked because this did not seem possible, and, well, Zara has kind of a big mouth.
She said Chuck was on the bus minding his own business when Kelli hopped on and sat right next to him without asking. She was wearing one of her sparkly headbands-she has about a million-and sneaking bites of banana bread even though you’re not supposed to eat on the bus. She offered him a piece. And he took it.
Later, in homeroom, Kelli passed Chuck a note that said, “Do you want to go out?” Zara said it had two circles, one marked YES and one marked NO. At first Chuck didn’t answer, but Kelli made a sad puppy face, so he put an X in the YES circle and passed it back.
And now they are “going out”!!
I have to say, this really bugs me.
Number one: we’re only in fifth grade.
Number two: Chuck and I have been friends since the apple-picking field trip in kindergarten, and Kelli just moved here last year, and I’ve never once noticed him notice her.
It just doesn’t seem right that they’ve said about five sentences to each other-total-and all of a sudden they’re “going out”! How long has she even liked him? Did she start today?
And how can they be going out when none of us is allowed to go anywhere anyway?
Lunch was spaghetti and meatballs, which I usually love, but my insides felt like cold, stuck-together spaghetti. It didn’t help that Zara and my best friend Maybelle were talking about Valentine’s Day, which is Saturday.
Our grade has three Emilys, but only one Ava, one Maybelle, and one Zara, and lately the six of us have been sitting together at lunch. Well, it’s usually all-girl or all-boy, but today, Kelli plunked her tray down at Chuck’s table! I was in shock! The Emilys just giggled, and Emily Jenkins said, “Kelli and Chuck make a good couple.” And everyone agreed!
I swear, that made me want to throw up my meatballs. (Sorry if that’s gross.)
The problem is that I’m not supposed to care as much as I guess I do. Last month, Zara asked if I liked Chuck, and I said no.
Why do I care anyway? Chuck is sweet and funny, but I think of him as a brother.
At least I think I think of him as a brother.
A sweet, funny brother.
We’re just friends.
H-U-H. That’s a weird expression, isn’t it? “Just friends.” As though years of being friends is less important than hours of “going out.”
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Carol Weston, author of Ava XOX, selected these five family favorites. Discover more articles on The Children’s Book Review tagged with Family Favorites.