A Great Task - FINISHED!

Last year I decided that it was high time I read several books that I've heard about for years, but had never read myself. Just children's books, mind you. I decided to go to the children's section in my little library and pick two authors from each letter of the alphabet from A-L who had books I'd heard about over and over and JUST READ THEM. Here's my list. It was a bit overwhelming. I gave myself a whole year because I was absolutely dreading some of the books. Here is my list and my comments about them. The numbers in red at the end of the title are the month/year I read the book.

Alexander - The Book of Three 1/10
I hated this book. Perhaps it was really cool in the '60's when it was written, but when you compare it to The Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter, it's really stupid. For me.
Banks - The Indian in the Cupboard 1/10
I thought the stereotypes about Native Americans were going to bring the wrath of the Politically Correct Gods down upon me. Interesting in a small way, but not enough for me to read the rest of the series.
Bond - Paddington Bear 12/09
Shoot me if I ever have to read this again. The situations the dumb bear got himself into were stupider than stupid.
Brink - Caddie Woodlawn 2/10
Great!!! It was weird reading this book, knowing it was taking place roughly the same time and place as Little House in the Big Woods. Such a different flavor than that one, but great! And kinda realistic...
Byars - The Pinballs 3/10
Very '70's. Talked about some pretty serious subjects, though.
Carroll - Alice in Wonderland 4/10
I'm glad I read it before the movie. Also, was surprised at how faithful the DISNEY movie was to the book!
Cleary - The Mouse and the Motorcycle 4/10
I love Beverly Cleary, but I didn't love this book. Cute, but irritating.
Clemens - Tom Sawyer 6/10
I felt true accomplishment after reading this book. Now I understood so many cultural references (the fence!) that had hitherto passed over me. Good!
Collier - My Brother Sam is Dead 10/10
Oh. My. Gosh. EXCELLENT!!!!! I couldn't believe the great details this book had about the American Revolution - certainly a different perspective, too. A family that didn't believe in the Patriots' cause - they were loyalists, except for the eldest son. And then what happened to him... oh my.
Defoe - Robinson Crusoe 4/10
I dreaded reading this book. It was huge. It was old. The pictures were horrible. I complained bitterly the first eight chapters (I made myself read at least one a night). Then I was hooked. Robinson Crusoe had such thoughts! I wanted to think such things. A bit wordy, but the guy was by himself for so many years, I didn't blame him for talking a lot.
Dixon - Hardy Boys mystery 9/10
I expected the worse and was pleasantly surprised. These books are not drivel. Perhaps after reading more than a few I'd get tired of them (and their luck/perfection/breaks/etc), but still, I liked it.
Dodge - Hans Brinker 7/10
Definitely written by a person trying to teach small children good morals. And Dutch history. The parts that weren't doing either of those things, but telling a story were good. I think the book could be shortened by about half and would be better for it.
Farley - The Black Stallion 7/10
This story was interesting in that it's strange to see how people acted before good communication became commonplace. The kid was in a shipwreck. Only he and the horse survived. Then he's rescued by some other ship and brought back to New York. Only then do the parents find out he still has the horse and "he wants to keep it." Like it's a stray dog. Very gung-ho boy. Very boyish and manly and all that.
Fleming - Chitty Chitty Bang Bang 10/10
Not like the movie. The movie was better. This book was a huge waste of time. Weak plot. Poor story wrap-ups. DUMB.
Forbes - Johnny Tremain 10/10
The last book I read. Very haunting. Brought American history to life for me in a hundred ways. So much evil/good to be seen. Eye-opening.
George - Julie of the Wolves 9/10
Lessons in selfishness.
Gipson - Old Yeller 9/10
Another big surprise. I'd dreaded this one. Heard about the movie. Didn't want a boo-hoo sentimental story. It wasn't. It was wonderful - intriguing, entertaining and plausible. It all made sense and I could see how something like this really could happen. I like stories that make sense. And I cried when Old Yeller died. He deserved my tears.
Graham - Wind in the Willows 9/10
I didn't really *like* this story, but it sticks with me. There is a timeless beauty about this story that I feel when I read about Hobbits and other English books. I want to live among the green and the waters.
Henry - Misty of Chincoteague 6/10
I worried that this book would be stupid and it wasn't! It was a great story and I didn't even mind that it was about horses.
Howe – Bunnicula 3/10
Cute. Glad it was short because it was getting on my nerves.
Jacques – Redwall 8/10
Absolutely hated this book. Too! Many! Exclamation! Points!
Jones - Howl's Moving Castle 9/10
I'd had this book recommended by someone at work. It very much reminded me of Terry Pratchett, but I don't know why. Didn't mind it, but ... I don't know.
Juster – The Phantom Tollbooth 10/10
What a waste of my time. Boy is bored all the time. Magic delivers a pretend tollbooth to his room. He gets into the car provided and drives through the tollbooth into a magic world. That is stupid as all get out. It must have been written when the author was taking medication. In the wrong dosages. Reminded me of "I Am the Walrus" lyrics. Boy has fantastic adventures and learns that life is an adventure... pbbbbt!
Keene - a Nancy Drew mystery 9/10
Very fun! That Nancy sure does have a lot of talents for such a young woman (diving, rowing, detectiving) And if they called her "the young sleuth" once, they called her it a 1000000000000 times. Still, I might read a couple more. Someday.

I made my list for next year already with the second half of the alphabet. I'm dreading "The Yearling." More animals... :(


RoMo said…
That's quite the task. I don't know if I could do it. I get really irritated when I discover that I'm wasting my time.
Heather Eddy said…
I didn't consider the reading itself wasteful - just disappointing that such renowned stories are stupid.

Still, I like KNOWING finally!
Ann Martin said…
ahhh Heather, you have done what I keep thinking I should do! Thoroughly enjoyed your post and may send the link on to my kids who aren't kids any longer. I remember reading some of the titles as a child and others out loud to my boys... and then there are the ones I have always thought I should read someday. And now that I've read your descriptions I know which ones to skip, so thank you for that. I always liked The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew too, even though one of the librarians in my town library said to me at the checkout desk... "Does your mother know you are reading these?" Too funny! I suppose she felt they weren't "good" literature.
Heather Eddy said…
You know, I never knew that librarians once chided people about their reading selections. I first heard about it vaguely in library school when I saw that there had been a young girl in San Francisco who'd campaigned to get Nancy Drew books in her library. It seems so medieval to tell people they aren't reading "literature." Bah.
~j~ said…
Hey Heather, if you liked Marguerite Henry try her other books as well. And especially anything illustrated by Wesley Dennis. My fave is King of the Wind.

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51qccnoSboL._SL500_.jpg As an artist, I think you'll appreciate how much they add to the book.

Rona said…
Have you seen Miyozaki's animation of Howl's Moving Castle? If you can get it in Japanese with English subtitles it's much better than dubbed a English version. I'm surprised my daughter didn't leave a comment about it. She's mad about Miyozaki's work and she directed me to your blog!

BTW, love your folded books.
Mel Schade said…
Seems my Mother has dropped me in it as being a 'silent reader of blogs'...Thanks Mum...making me feel guilty about not leaving comments!!

But I must concur on the awesomeness of Howl's Moving Castle as an animation and also insist that it be watched in Japanese.

BTW - I love your folded books too :)
Heather Eddy said…
I've heard that the movie is better than the book... Hmm. Will have to see if it's at the library!

Hee hee about you two. Moms are great, huh? :) I lurve mine!

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