Tuesday, August 12, 2008


There were some books that I read over and over again. One book that stands out in my mind is Mandy by Julie Andrews Edwards.

Mandy is a girl of about ten who comes upon a cottage on the property of the orphanage in which she has been raised. She makes this little cottage a place of her own. I suppose that's one thing that stood out to my elementary-aged self as I read it. I wished I could have a place of my own. I think it's a universal thought of children of that age. I just wrote yesterday about how Amanda created a place of her own in her room. Unlike teens, a younger child isn't experiencing the proximity of the real freedom and independence that is to come, and probably doesn't even really want it. But they want the fantasy. What if I could be on my own? Just for a bit?

Details of this book stood out in my mind over twenty-five years after the last time I had read it:

  • The English gardens that Mandy planted. I knew nothing about the types of flowers she mentioned (and I still don't), but I loved the detail.

  • The kitchen items she took from the orphanage kitchen so she could have some items in her little cottage. Specifically I remembered some sort of bottle that she rinsed out.

  • The high high fever which caused her to drift in and out of consciousness. I could almost feel the heat.

I came across a copy of the book in a used bookstore a few years ago. It had the exact same cover that I read back in the late 70's (the one pictured is the current release, and it's a lovely rendition). I snatched it up quickly and brought it home, waiting for the right moment to share it with my daughter Amanda.

I used this book as a read-aloud for us. I think that we read it when she was in the third grade. She was certainly reading well by herself at this point, but I wanted to relive this book with her. I wanted to unlock those memories of myself as a young girl as I reread the familiar story. I wanted to see Amanda's response. She liked it. I don't think that she's read it again, but she enjoyed it, and I enjoyed sharing it with her. It's a testament to my love of this book that we did actually read it aloud.

This is a lovely book for girls age eight and up. I highly recommend it for someone who wants to be carried away with a realistic imaginative fantasy.

In third grade Amanda's teacher read another of Julie Andrews Edwards books, The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles. I haven't read that book myself, but it got her enthusiastic thumbs up. It's a different kind of fantasy world, but more her preference of genre. That link is to a special 30th anniversary edition, which makes it a classic as well. Any children's book that can stay in print that long should be commended.

This post is linked to the first Children's Classics Carnival at 5 Minutes for Books. Link up your own recommendation, or just click over and read others' recommendations of classic chapter books for the middle grade reader.

For another related post, see this week's "On Reading" column at 5 Minutes for Books. It's by one of my favorite kid lit bloggers, Jen Robinson. If you haven't already seen it, take a minute to find out the many reasons you should Read the Books Your Children Read.


Lauren@Baseballs&Bows said...

I've never read this book! It sounds wonderful. I'll have to read it soon.

I guess this is exactly the purpose of the carnival. We can all find gems that may be unfamiliar!

stephanie said...

I adored Mandy as a girl - and had that same experience of finding the book later and snatching it up! I'll have to try that other book by "Mary Poppins" soon. :)

Katrina said...

I don't think I ever read Mandy, either. But I agree about the draw books that feed into that desire for a secret hideaway or place of your own. Thanks for sharing.

Julie said...

Great post, thanks for sharing.

Bluestocking said...

I have never heard of this book.

My post was on the Five Children and It by Edith Nesbit.

heather said...

I remember reading Mandy books as a girl--but I think it was a different Mandy. My Mandy seemed to get into "adventures" and solve all sorts of mysteries, and I think she had a little white kitten.
I had forgotten about those books.

Jen E said...

I've also never read this book but now I really really want to!

Carrie said...

I JUST saw this book (when looking through, er, various websites) and wondered about it. I love Julie Andrews and so I was curious about these books - this one in particular. I'm so glad you reviewed it. Now I really, really want to read it!

Ladybug said...

I've never read this book! It seems so delightful; I'll definitely have to check it out! I was one who always wanted my own space too! Thanks for sharing! :D

Jen Robinson said...

I don't think I've ever read Mandy either, now that I think about it. Sounds like I'll have to give it a look. Thanks!!

Tameka said...

I've never read Mandy, but any book about discovering a place of your own speaks right to my heart. I'll have to add that one to my to be read list.

Debbie said...

I'm a day behind!! And then I realized I kind of had the wrong age group too... oops. Mandy is one of the only books listed that I haven't read. I'm on my way to the library now! I love books like these. "Gone Away Lake" was another good one along those "being on your own" lines.

sarah said...

That sounds great and I have two little girls who would love it. I'll have to check it out. Thanks.

Marybeth said...

Jennifer! This is my FAVORITE book from childhood-- seriously!! I absolutely devoured this book and read it over and over again-- I too remember the little items she pilfered and the "shell room"

Wow, I knew we were "Kindred Reading Spirits!" Now I really know!! :)