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.