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Classic Kids’ Books

November 13, 2014

I had a request to talk about some of the classic children’s books that I would have read, with an emphasis on recommendations for a kid who likes funny stories and monster stories. So, here’s what I came up with:

bunniculaBunnicula by Deborah and James Howe
Bunnicula is the tale of a vampire bunny. So, that’s awesome. He has red eyes, a black widow’s peak on his fuzzy little head, and two tiny fangs instead of the more traditional flat teeth. And he sucks… the sweet lifeblood… of… vegetables.
So, he’s a monster, but a fairly non-threatening one. He isn’t going to give a wee one nightmares (although, Book 4 in the series is called Nighty Nighghtmare).
The frame story for Bunnicula, and what makes it such a great book, is that the entire story is narrated by Harold, the Munroe family dog. He and Chester (the cat) are the two protagonists of the tale. Harold is more easy going and laid back, while Chester is a bundle of nerves. It’s Chester who first suspects that all is not right with the Munroe’s new pet, who was found, in a box under a seat a the movie theater during a screening of Dracula.
I desperately wanted a rabbit after I read Bunnicula, although I suspect I would have been disappointed when mine ate the carrots instead of draining them.

alienMy Teacher is an Alien by Bruce Coville
This is another great series from my childhood. I still have my original copy from 1989.
Susan knows that there is something wrong with the new substitute teacher, Mr. Smith. No one but the class nerd, Peter will believe her though. They can’t quite put their fingers on what the problem is until one day, after class, they see Mr. Smith peel off his face, revealing his horrible, alien head underneath.
Why is he here? Is he going to do something terrible to the children? Is he trying to take over the world? Will he give them… pop quizes?
Like the Bunnicula books, this is the first in a series. I especially liked Book 2, My Teacher Fried My Brain.

rikki tikkiThe Jungle Book (with special emphasis on Rikki-Tikki-Tavi) by Rudyard Kipling
The Jungle Book as a whole is pretty great, but I remember reading Rikki-Tikki-Tavi for the first time and falling absolutely in love. Since I can’t really keep a mongoose for a pet, I settled for ferrets as the next best thing.
The Jungle Book is a collection of short stories that were originally published in magazines in the 1890’s. This makes it good for readers with shorter attention spans because they can read one story fairly quickly and then go on to something else for a bit.
Thanks to Disney, Mowgli, Baloo, and Bagheera are probably the most famous characters from the book, but Rikki-Tikki-Tavi, the brave mongoose comes in a close second. I think part of that is because his name is just so fun to say. There is an animated version of this story too, but it never became quite the hit that Disney’s The Jungle Book did.


D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths by Ingri and Edgar D’Aulaire
I held the record for number of times to check out this book at the Tuscaloosa Public Library for a couple of years when I was young. I also corrected my Kindergarten teacher when she tried to tell me that Perseus got the Golden Fleece. I was that kind of kid.
While this book isn’t funny, it does have some of the best monsters going. It’s full of beautiful illustrations and child-friendly versions of the Greek Myths. This is an excellent introduction to mythology and continues to be a good reference book as the child grows older.

Echidna and her children from the D'Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths

Echidna and her children from the D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths

What books were your favorites when you were younger?


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