Kid Lit

Note to subscribers: You receive my posts in your email. I see your comments on my blog page at my website ( That’s also where my replies to your comments appear. I reply to most of your comments, but you won’t see these replies unless you check in at my website occasionally. Also, the format doesn’t show whom I’m responding to, so sometimes there has appeared a random-seeming “That’s interesting!” from me, with no indication whom I’m calling interesting. From now on, I’m trying to begin my replies with your first name, so you can all see whose comment it’s a response to. This issue has presumably not been keeping you up at night, but I wanted you to know I’m reading your comments and (usually) responding.

Photo by Kimberly Farmer on Unsplash

Someone I know refers to well-loved books and easy reads as “palate cleansers” between more challenging works. Along those lines, I’ve been enjoying some children’s literature in recent days.

My friend Kathie recommended The Midnight Fox (1970) by Betsy Byars after we read the recent memoir Fox & I: An Uncommon Friendship, by Catherine Raven, in our book group. Like Raven in real life, Byars’s young protagonist Tom gets acquainted with a wild black fox on his relatives’ farm. (His fox friendship, I have to say, struck me as more realistic than Raven’s, whose account seemed a little implausible.) The book deals with some darkly serious themes about how we treat animals and nature, but it also has joy and humor. By the end, it reminded me of Charlotte’s Web, which is very high praise.

Now I’m reading local writer Tricia Springstubb’s new book Looking for True. Her two main characters deal with a lot of pain and upheaval in their lives but come together to help (another) canine, a sweet and scraggly dog they call True. It’s full of humor, quirky dialogue, and occasional heartbreak. This book is going to my great-niece for Christmas, but I’m sneaking in a read before relinquishing it to her, as I’ve done (also with Tricia’s books) a few times in the past. Last time, she was excited to see her book was signed by the author! As is this copy!

A children’s series also helped me get through the pandemic lockdown, the Swallows and Amazons stories by Arthur Ransome. My local libraries don’t own all twelve, so I stopped after, I think, the first four. Published in the 1930s, these books follow the adventures of some adventurous young Brits, who spend summers on the coast and sail, and pretend, and get into scrapes of various sorts. I had never heard of them until Robert Gottlieb, a renowned editor, praised them in his memoir Avid Reader.

I recommend all of the above for the young and not-so-young readers on your gift list. What favorite children’s books have you given (or would you give) to school-age kids?

This entry was posted in Uncategorized, Weekend Editions and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Kid Lit

  1. Kathy says:

    Robin: Margaret used to read the Goosebumps books, and Doug read about sports. Reading is reading.

  2. Kathy says:

    Bill: So glad you liked Ramadan Ramsey. My parents had The Egg and I on the bookshelf, and I read and liked it many years ago. Should give it another look.

  3. Kathy says:

    Kathie: Thanks for these titles! I’m going to check them out!

  4. Kathie says:

    My favorite reads this time of year are The House without a Christmas Tree by Gail Rock and The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson. My childhood favorite for any time of year is Half Magic by Edgar Eager.

  5. Bill says:

    I recently enjoyed reading Ramadan Ramsey, so I’m 2 for 2 with Kathy-recommended stories. A few years ago I read The Egg and I -loved it. Who knew that I would since move to Washington State, not far from the setting for The Egg and I!

  6. robin koslen says:

    I will definitely give Tricia’s newest to one of the grand girls. I love Daniel Pinkwater but find his books hard to find these days. Maybe he hasn’t aged well with the next generation. Round Dahl is an other favorite author. All the grandkids are avid readers but often reader graphic novels and fantasy. Those genres are fine with me but I’d love them to branch out a bit. That being said, I remember Elana reading a whole lot of the babysitters club.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *