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Thanks for All Your Kids’ Book Suggestions

A while back, I solicited your suggestions for great children’s books, and you responded mightily, with more than 270 comments. Your answers made me realize how many children’s books we already own, which is probably a good thing, at least according to these guys.

But you also suggested a lot of books we’ve never read, and you made them sound so good that I am going to buy them right now. As promised, I’ll send a signed copy of The Boy With Two Belly Buttons to the five folks below who made the best suggestions, listed below. Thanks to all of you. (There is now a video of The BW2BB on its Amazon page.)

1. Princess Smartypants and Prince Cinders, by Babette Cole. They are nontraditional versions of fairy tales, but they are funny and not heavy-handed. You have to like a hero whose coat of arms reads “Courage In Tesco,” or a princess who comes into the throne room with mucky boots and a pitchfork.

We also love The Gruffalo, by Julia Donaldson. Anyone for scrambled snake?

2. The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster. Great lessons about people who are different from you, boredom (getting stuck in the doldrums), and fun ways to look at words and numbers. Plus, any story that starts out with a mysterious package and a life-size car in one’s bedroom is a great kids’ story. I actually still read it now and then.

3. One that almost no one else seems to have read: When the Sky is Like Lace by Elinor Lander Horwitz. It’s a little trippy, it has a great cadence, and it uses words that delight (like “bimulous night” and “kissing gourami”).

Also, Ogden Nash‘s The Tale of Custard the Dragon is a delight, even for parents. (Anyone who rhymes “Belinda” with “window” and “gyrate” with “pirate” gets points in my book.)

4. Harris and Me by Gary Paulsen. I was reading it while on jury duty several years ago, during the interminable down time. One scene was so funny that I laughed out loud for 10 minutes, with tears streaming down my face. The other jurors thought I was nuts.

5. I’m so glad somebody else brought up Who Needs Donuts? by Mark Alan Stamaty. “Who needs donuts when you’ve got love?” was a catchphrase in our house when I was growing up. Plus, the illustrations are fantastically complex.

I also really loved The Rainbow Goblins by Ul De Rico. Beautiful, painterly illustrations, and kind of an odd story, but with a happy ending.

Last but not least, a personal favorite of mine was a collection of anonymous poems, gathered by Jack Prelutsky and attributed to “A. Nonny Mouse.” It has crazy illustrations by Henrik Drescher, and I can still remember one of my favorite poems:

Don’t worry if your job is small
And your rewards are few.
Remember that the mighty oak
Was once a nut like you!