Booksellers review their favorite children’s literature
The following books are some of the favorites from Otto’s Bookstore in Williamsport and From My Shelf in Wellsboro. The owners and staff read as many books as possible so they can help youngsters, parents and grandparents find just the “right” book in the vast world of children’s literature.
Betsy Rider, owner, Otto’s:
“Woolbur,” a picture book written by Leslie Helakoski and illustrated by Harper Lee, is her favorite because it is “an explosion of self affirmation,” Rider said. “Woolbur, a sheep with a different take on life, does everything his way. Maa and Paa fret while grand-
pa gently tells them not to worry. Instead of ‘following the herd,’ Woolbur has the herd following his lead and he repeats his mantra, ‘Isn’t it great’; and I say ‘Amen.’ “
Nancy McCarty, staff, Otto’s:
Her choice is “The Phantom Tollbooth,” written by Norman Juster, with illustrations by Jules Feifer. “It is the perfect book for family read-alouds and for word lovers of every age. When Milo puts together and drives through a tollbooth he found in his bedroom, he begins an adventure to rescue the Princesses Rhyme and Reason, restoring peace to the Land of Wisdom and curing his own boredom.”
Alissa DuBois, staff, Otto’s:
“You will never look at the crayons in a box the same way after reading ‘The Day the Crayons Quit’ by Drew Daywelt. From the overused to the barely used, each crayon has something to say. Smiles, chuckles and creativity will abound. Maybe, your drawings will be as great as the illustrator of the book, Oliver Jeffers. I bet he got an A-plus in art class.”
Kasey Cox, co-owner, From My Shelf:
Cox loves “Hondo & Fabian.” It is written and illustrated by Peter McCarty; paperback published by Square Fish, geared to ages 2-6. “It’s my new favorite picture book for kids. I love the soft, sweetly funny illustrations. It’s an almost deceptively simple story about a dog and a cat who are best friends, and what a typical day is like for them. The story is short enough for small attention spans, and the sentences are easy enough for beginning readers, but it is anything but boring. A lot happens for the furry friends in the span of their day, and the humor is as gentle and subtle as the drawings.”
A favorite of Cox’s for readers from sixth grade on is “Gilda Joyce” by Jennifer Allison. “I believe this series is a lesser-known treasure. The first book in the series is “Gilda Joyce, Psychic Investigator,” introducing us to the unsinkable Gilda, her back story, her family and friends. Perhaps more importantly, the first book shows us how Gilda will, by hook or crook, plop herself in the middle of a mystery and bring her unusual methods for figuring out the situation, resolving many issues for the people involved. Gilda is often outlandish, maybe a bit too meddlesome, but her confidence, her perseverance and her intelligence ultimately bring her through. Gilda is a modern-day Nancy Drew, with a dash of Harriet the Spy and a smattering of Encyclopedia Brown, but is truly her own person. These stories have much more meat than first appearances would say. Reading the first book was like sticking your toe in a mud puddle and sinking in up to your thigh. I read and loved the whole series! I’m hoping Allison writes more!”
Kevin Coolidge, co-owner, From My Shelf:
Coolidge picked “Big Red,” because “I love the timeless appeal of Jim Kjelgaard’s stories. I love the straight-forward approach to the relationship between man and nature. His human characters are involved in vocations that are closely related to the outdoors and his well-researched insight into these nature involving careers make an excellent resource for young readers ages 9 and up. (They’re) interesting, entertaining and colorful.”
The book is illustrated by Bob Kuhn.
Kevin also likes Bill Peet’s “Farewell to Shady Glade” because “I love Peet’s illustration style. Bill worked for Disney studios before going on to write over 30 books of his own.
“In ‘Shady Glade,’ a raccoon and his friends must leave Shady Glade because the bulldozers are coming. They must find another Shady Glade. His animal characters are lifelike and lovable and his storytelling is excellent. Appropriate for ages 5 through 8.”