Friday, August 24, 2007

The Ultimate Book Guide (Book review)

The Ultimate Book Guide: Over 600 Great Books for 8-12s , by by Daniel Hahn (Editor), Leonie Flynn (Editor), Susan Reuben (Editor), Anne Fine (Introduction).

This book-of-books doesn't have the Christian base of Books Children Love, or Honey for a Child's Heart. But it also doesn't have as much commercial "attitude" as I expected...or, to be more accurate, it fits a particular kind of "attitude" that, although I'm not totally in tune with it, I do "get." This is a British book, and it expects that if you enjoy Jerry Spinelli and J.K. Rowling, you might also have the intelligence to try out Mistress Masham's Repose, Rosemary Sutcliff's historical novels, and Black Beauty. There are witches here; there is weirdness and fantasy and time travel and a lot of Roald Dahl, and a few other things that might not be my particular cup of tea. But there's also an obvious love of books and stories that would make this guide worthwhile browsing for both the 8-12's (with a bit of guidance) and their parents.

The best part--and it's very creatively and thoughtfully done--is the "Next?" box beside each main entry. If you liked this book, you might like this (same author) or this (similar theme). The Just-So Stories lead to Jacobs' English Folk Tales, Alan Garner's A Bag of Moonshine, Carl Sandburg's Rootabaga Stories, The Jungle Books, and Ted Hughes's Tales of the Early World. King Solomon's Mines suggests the sequel Allan Quartermain, and then Treasure Island, The Coral Island, Gary Paulsen's Hatchet, or William Nicholson's The Wind Singer. You'll find out why Helen Cresswell related to What Katy Did, and what Margaret Mahy thinks about Winnie-the-Pooh.  It's like walking around with a very experienced librarian who, although she may not share all your tastes, can nevertheless point out all kinds of books and authors, new and old, that you might have missed.

1 comment:

Laura said...

Thanks for reviewing this - I'd never heard of it, but it sounds like a book my family will enjoy. I'm off to order it now!

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