Pegeen Mulhern: “Swallows and Amazons” by Arthur Ransome

Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome. PZ7.R175 Sw6 1985

From Pegeen Mulhern, Reference Librarian: “I spent many days of my childhood ‘sailing away’ to exotic ports with my brothers on our family picnic table, rigged with a broom for a mast and an old sheet for a sail.

For me, Swallows and Amazons provided the most essential element of children’s literature: something that kids can relate to and then muchmore.

This book brings alive the exploring, camping and sailing adventures of children from two families in the Lake District of England. The four Walker children, the Swallows, set off in their sailing dingy (the Swallow) to camp on a nearby island. They are soon interrupted by an attack by the Blackett sisters, self-styled pirates, the Amazons. The Swallows and the Amazons soon form an alliance and continue their adventures and feats of piracy together.

Although the book ends with a great storm on the lake, after which the Swallows and Amazons have to return to life ashore, the good news is that there are 11 more books in the series written by Arthur Ransome. This is truly a series that kids of all ages can savor and enjoy over and over again.”

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Professor Christian Halliburton: “The Travels of Babar” by Jean de Brunhoff

The Travels of Babar by Jean de Brunhoff. PZ7.B78 2002 

From Professor Christian Halliburton: “This has always been one of my favorite books, from the time it was first read to me to the last time I reread it. The magical aspect of this book, for me, is a reflection of the fact that it provided my first moment of conscious learning. As I sat and listened to my parents reading The Travels of Babar, I was aware of the connections to be made between sounds and text, or between human feeling and literary form. It was that first feeling of intellectual awareness that has driven me ever since, and which taught me that fundamental change can come from simple sources.”

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Assoc. Dean Cheney: “Pippi Longstocking” by Astrid Lindgren

Pippi Longstocking by Astric Lindgren. PZ7.L6585Pi 1997

From Kristin Cheney, Associate Dean for Library and Educational Technology: “Pippi Longstocking has been described by some as a feminist role model for young girls, and when I was a little girl reading Astrid Lindgren’s stories, I may well have subliminally absorbed that message. However, what I really remember was this incredibly fearless, adventuresome girl with gorgeous (at least in my mind) red hair who was not only super strong and rich, but had a monkey for a friend. I wanted to be just like her and in some ways still do. I mean, who wouldn’t want to have a sackful of gold pieces?”

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Professor Anne Enquist: “The Little Engine That Could” by Watty Piper

The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper. PZ7.P64Li 2005

From Professor Anne Enquist: “I love the childhood tale, The Little Engine That Could, because of its message about effort and perseverance. The ‘I think I can, I think I can’ refrain is a wonderful piece of positive ‘self-talk’ that serves many children well into their adult years.”

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Kelly Kunsch: “Sink It Rusty” by Matt Christopher

Sink it Rusty by Matt Christopher. PZ7.C458Si 1963

From Kelly Kunsch, Reference Librarian: “I’ve always loved sports and when I was growing up, the only sport stories written for kids were by Matt Christopher. The formula for his books was always the same: kid with problem struggles to make the team but ultimately is the hero in the biggest game of the season. In Sink It Rusty, Rusty limped because of childhood polio (a common disease years ago). As a sign of the times, the book was revised in 1995 and called Shoot for the Hoop (the protagonist this time being afflicted with diabetes…). Having books on subjects of interest encouraged kids like me to read more. As for life imitating art, I was cut from my high school basketball team for being too short. I obviously should have loaned the coach a copy of Sink It Rusty.”

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Professor John Weaver: “The Tough Winter” by Robert Lawson

The Tough Winter by Robert Lawson. PZ10.3.L39To 1954  

From Professor John Weaver: “I chose THE TOUGH WINTER for the following reasons:

It was one of the first books I can remember reading for myself; it was one of the books my wife and I read to our daughter and that she read for herself.

The Illustrations are wonderful.

It’s a book about family (including how family members can be irritating, but you love them anyway), love, and working together to get through hard times. It has some scary moments; the animals suffer through the winter and are attacked by a mean dog. There’s a fire and a car collapses their underground house. There are moments of kindness and consideration: the wild animals help the thoroughly ungrateful) trapped housecat; the real caretaker brings food at Christmas.

But mostly it’s about doing what you have to do to make sure that your loved ones and your friends can survive the hard times.”

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Nancy Minton and Susan Kezele: “A Child’s Garden of Verses” by Robert Louis Stevenson

A Child’s Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson. PR5489.C5 1999

From Nancy Minton, Cataloger: “In my busy childhood, I loved sitting quietly, reading aloud A Children’s Garden of Verses. Perhaps it was the selection of poetry by the great poet Robert Louis Stevenson that brought me a calming comfort. The poems were seemingly simple, yet they universally related the experience of youth. Perhaps the illustrator’s soft etchings stilled my need for activity. Eloise Wilkins’ pictures were seemingly plain, yet they were perfected with such artistry so as to gently and perfectly allude to the poet’s words. Indeed together both the artist and author conveyed to me an identifiable, reassuring experience. To this day I cannot pass a swing without quickly recalling the joyful emotion Robert Louis Stevenson related in his poem, ‘The Swing.’ “Oh I do think it is the pleasantest thing ever a child can do!” he exclaimed. I found the experience of reading A Child’s Garden of Verses one of the ‘pleasantest’ things I could ever do.”

From Susan Kezele, Circulation/Resource Sharing Manager: “A Child’s Garden of Verses is filled with childhood dreams. Stevenson wrote about everyday occurrences in the life of a child but transformed each event into an adventure, an escape to faraway places. A child’s bed became a boat, sleep takes you to the Land of Nod, fairies play in the garden, the wind carries sailboats to distant shores. The verses are thoughtful but also magical. Two of my favorites are ‘Bed in Summer’ and ‘My Shadow.’”

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Professor Julie Shapiro: “The Phantom Tollbooth” by Norton Juster

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster. PS3560.U858P43 2005

From Professor Julie Shapiro: “The combination of story and word-play in The Phantom Tollbooth was (and is) irresistible to me. On the surface, it is the story of Milo’s adventures with his entertaining creatures along the way. As a child I read it over and over, getting a few more of the jokes each time. It’s still the case that each time I read it something I didn’t notice (or had forgotten) strikes me. And finally, it is a moral tale—only the return of Rhyme and Reason can bring harmony to the world.”

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Donna Turner: “Henry Huggins” by Beverly Cleary

Henry Huggins by Beverly Cleary. PZ7.C5792He 2000

From Donna Turner, Collection Maintenance/Preservation Specialist : “It’s been many years since I first read Henry Huggins, but I still remember laughing out loud as Henry managed to turn perfectly normal activities into Marx Brothers skits. Henry was playing with a borrowed football and accidentally threw it into a passing convertible. The car sped off and Henry had to figure out how to earn money to pay for the lost football. It could only happen to Henry.”

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Professor John Mitchell: “Tom Swift and His Jetmarine” by Victor Appleton

Tom Swift and His Jetmarine by Victor Appleton. PZ7.A653Je 1954

From Professor John Mitchell: “What’s funny for me about choosing Tom Swift and His Jetmarine as my favorite childhood book (circa 8 years old) is that I don’t recall ever even thinking about that book since the time when I read it over a half century ago. It just popped up when I was asked to name my favorite—truly the product of a child’s mind unaltered by intervening adult knowledge, tastes and sensibilities. There on the computer screen of my mind was this incredible tableau on the book cover—a fragile submarine wrapped in the tentacles of a giant octopus! I don’t recall a thing about the plot, but I know why I liked it.

Tom Swift was a boy who in many respects could have been one of my friends. But with his intelligence and imagination, he took charge of his world and created elaborate inventions (his dad was an inventory who had a factory)—infinite extensions of my erector set projects—and went on heroic adventures with his buddy. I went along with him, too.”

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