50 more nifties

National | WORLD's list of 50 more great kids' books

Issue: "Gore strikes out," Dec. 9, 2000

On July 1 WORLD published The Nifty 50, a list of favorite 20th-century children's novels compiled by the Olasky family and friends. We promised at the time to collect reader recommendations and issue another list before Christmas shopping season. Readers responded with letters and e-mails containing the terrific suggestions listed below. In places we have included reader remarks. The list includes some titles by previously listed authors. We recommended Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown, but readers demanded Goodnight Moon or The Silent ABC by the same author. Some authors are so prolific that readers had a hard time choosing a favorite: Dr. Seuss, Maurice Sendak, E.B. White, and Bill Peet all made the previous list. These authors are so well-known that we didn't include a new title; we suggest that when you find an author you like, you read his other works. To keep our list to 50, we had to choose between titles: We list Blueberries for Sal rather than Make Way for Ducklings, though both are excellent books. Most-noted omission on the first list: Winnie-the-Pooh. We didn't make the same mistake twice. Readers also lamented that some of the best children's books are going out of print. Many are available through used-book sources, including those on the Internet such as Addall.com. Once again, we've divided the list into picture books and chapter books, listed alphabetically by authors. Enjoy! Picture Books Bishop, Claire Huchet
The Five Chinese Brothers Buy it Today!
Five gifted brothers undertake fantastic tasks in this Chinese folk tale. Brett, Jan
The Mitten Buy it Today!
"Her books are wonderful not because of their deep literary content, but because of her charming, brilliant illustrations." Brown, Margaret Wise
Goodnight Moon Buy it Today!
Soft, rocking rhythm: The bunny's goodnight to familiar objects functions like a well-worn cradle. Burton, Virginia Lee
Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel Buy it Today!
"A classic that gives children a glimpse into their grandfather's day. (What is a selectman, anyway?)" DePaola, Tomie
now One Foot, now the Other Buy it Today!
Sweet story of a boy and his Grandpa. Eastman, P. D.
Are You My Mother? Buy it Today!
"Very calm ... non-stimulating and good for bedtime." Flack, Marjorie
The Story About Ping Buy it Today!
A duck who lives on a barge on the Yangtze River gets left behind one evening and meets many interesting characters. Freeman, Don
Corduroy Buy it Today!
The expression of individual worth-even if you're missing a button here or there. Ga'g, Wanda
Millions of Cats Buy it Today!
Humility wins out over vanity when an old man and woman search for the perfect pet. Galbraith, Kathryn O.
Laura Charlotte Buy it Today!
"This picture book was my daughter's favorite when she was little. It ties together four generations of women via a well-loved stuffed elephant. A great mother-daughter read, but keep a box of Kleenex handy." Hoffman, Mary
Amazing Grace Buy it Today!
Her classmates tell her she can't be Peter Pan, but Grace perseveres. Hughes, Shirley
Alfie Gets In First Buy it Today!
"We love all of Shirley Hughes's 'Alfie' books, but this one is the best." Lenski, Lois
Cowboy Small Buy it Today!
"We love our Mr. and Mrs. Noah, Cowboy Small, Pilot Small, Farmer Small, Policeman Small, and all the rest. Lois Lenski's timeless books are a treasure." Martin, Bill and Carle, Eric
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? Buy it Today!
"We love all of Eric Carle's books, but this is my 3-year-old's favorite because he can 'read' it aloud all by himself." Martin, Bill Jr.
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom Buy it Today!
"I have yet to find children aged toddler up through first grade who do not love to hear this book read and re-read until they can chant along with the adult reader." McCloskey, Robert
Blueberries for Sal Buy it Today!
Sal is picking berries with her mother, and a bear cub is picking with his. When they begin following the wrong mothers the trouble begins. Munsch, Robert
Love you Forever Buy it Today!
"I'll love you forever / I'll love you for always / As long as I'm living / My baby you'll be." A mother sings this refrain to her son through all the stages of his life until it is finally his turn to sing it to her. Piper, Watty
The Little Engine That Could Buy it Today!
"Although we adults recognize the underlying humanistic philosophy, kids are encouraged to persevere when the going gets rough." Risom, Ole, illustrations by Richard Scarry
I Am a Bunny Buy it Today!
"My mother read this 1963 book to me as a child and it has been a proven colic and hysteria soother to both my girls." Rylant, Cynthia
When I Was Young in the Mountains Buy it Today!
"Shows a poor Appalachian multigenerational family (the grandfather is a coal miner); simple, gentle prose about going to the outhouse, about church and baptisms and baths in a wooden tub." Slobodkina, Esphyr
Caps for Sale Buy it Today!
A peddler's attempts to outwit a group of clever monkeys is the kid-pleasing context for this absurd story. Stevenson, James
"Could Be Worse!" Buy it Today!
Grandpa's exaggerated tales of his own childhood remind children, with gentle humor, when it's time to stop complaining. Ward, Lynd
The Biggest Bear Buy it Today!
When Johnny brings home a bear cub, he doesn't realize how much trouble the growing bear can cause. Zion, Gene
Harry the Dirty Dog Buy it Today!
Harry hates baths, so at bathtime he runs away. Then he gets so dirty that even his own family doesn't recognize him. Chapter Books Alexander, Lloyd
The Chronicles of Prydain Buy it Today!
A fantasy series pitting good versus evil. Anderson, C. W.
Billy and Blaze Buy it Today!
Series featuring a young boy and his horse, notable for simple pencil drawings. Armstrong, William H.
Sounder Buy it Today!
"The bittersweet story of a boy and his dog." Brink, Carol Ryrie
Caddie Woodlawn Buy it Today!
"A bit spicier than the gentle "Little House" books, Caddie appeals to older elementary age children. The book has a wonderful patriotic subplot." Cleary, Beverly
Ramona Quimby, Age 8 Buy it Today!
The middle kid in the family will particularly enjoy Ramona's antics and dilemmas in this fun story. de Angeli, Marguerite
The Door in the Wall Buy it Today!
Set in London during the Middle Ages, a noble youth overcomes illness to help defend a castle against the Welsh. DeJonge, Meindert
The Wheel on the School Buy it Today!
A town tries to bring back the storks that used to nest there. Edmonds, Walter
The Matchlock Gun Buy it Today!
During the French and Indian War, a boy protects his family with a heavy matchlock gun. Estes, Eleanor
The Moffats Buy it Today!
"Old-fashioned children's stories featuring a widow, her four children, and their many adventures." Farley, Walter
The Black Stallion Buy it Today!
A boy is stranded on a deserted island with a wild stallion that the boy vows to tame. Fisher, Dorothy Canfield
Understood Betsy Buy it Today!
When Betsy moves from the hothouse environment of her aunt's house to her cousins' house in Vermont, she begins to thrive. Gates, Doris
Blue Willow Buy it Today!
A girl longs for her family to find a permanent home. Henry, Marguehrite
Misty of Chincoteague Buy it Today!
A childhood classic, based on the real-life event of the wild pony round-up on Chincoteague Island. King-Smith, Dick
Babe: the Gallant Pig Buy it Today!
The story upon which the movie Babe was based. Knight, Eric
Lassie Come-Home Buy it Today!
When his father loses his job, Joe must sell his beloved Lassie, but the loyal dog won't stay away. Lovelace, Maud Hart
Betsy-Tacy Buy it Today!
"Inseparable friends Betsy and Tacy share hopes and dreams to which all young girls can relate." Milne, A. A.
Winnie-the-Pooh Buy it Today!
"It is without a doubt the most requested read-aloud book in our home. My teenager now reads it to my toddler, and he stays attentive for whole chapters, even without flashy pictures." Norton, Mary
The Borrowers Buy it Today!
"Tiny little people 'borrow' cast-offs from 'human beans.' One of the little people gets spotted and the adventure is on." O'Hara, Mary
My Friend Flicka Buy it Today!
Another story about a boy and his horse. Rawlings, Marjorie K.
The Yearling Buy it Today!
The loss of childhood innocence is handled in a sensitive way in this Pulitzer Prize winner. Selden, George
The Cricket in Times Square Buy it Today!
For many children, this book gives a first introduction into life in an urban setting, told through the experiences of a group of endearing animal characters. Seredy, Kate
The Good Master Buy it Today!
"She is overtly Christian from an Eastern persuasion. Her books are bright with hope and God's total trustworthiness even in times of disaster and crisis." St. John, Patricia
Treasures of the Snow Buy it Today!
"I love the way St. John weaves a Scripture passage throughout the story, making it come alive and leading us to effortlessly memorize and deeply understand the verses."

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Susan Olasky
Susan Olasky

Susan pens book reviews and other articles for WORLD as a senior writer and has authored eight historical novels for children. Susan and her husband Marvin live in Asheville, N.C. Follow Susan on Twitter @susanolasky.


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