five more books*

*that also more or less defined my childhood

Two weeks ago, I decided to write a #throwbackthursday post about books I loved as a kid (and, okay, true–books that also remained on my list of favorites). As is the case with most lists, I remembered everything else I wanted to add as soon as it was out of my hands. Today, I bring you another lit-style throwback: five books that should probably have been on that list, but weren’t (or: five more books you should all consider reading).

Interestingly, all of these received either a Newbery Medal or a Newbery Honor. Make of that what you will; I say it means my family knows good literature when we see it!

In any case, I present to you, in alphabetical order by author’s last name:

Five More Books That Basically Defined My Childhood

01. From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, by E. L. Konigsburg


length: 125 pages

award: Newberry Medal, 1968

My family read this book aloud right before we moved to New York City. We read a lot of books aloud when I was a kid, but none was quite so good at eliciting a response as this one–I still try to figure out how to live in the Metropolitan Museum of Art every time I visit it.


Definitely the coolest runaway story ever.

02. Ella Enchanted, by Gail Carson Levine


length: 232 pages

award: Newberry Honor, 1998

This was the first Gail Carson Levine book I ever read.  Suffice to say it drove me to check out all her books from our local library in New York. Take one fairy tale, throw in an imprudent fairy godmother, a gift that’s more of a curse, a rather odd boarding school, a magical book, a rather dashing prince who enjoys sliding down bannisters–and you’ll see why this was the only book I could think of to call “favorite” for at least two years.

03. Jacob Have I Loved, by Katherine Paterson

jacob have i loved

length: 244 pages

award: Newbery Medal, 1981

This one was a book-club read–along with a few other favorites that might show up eventually (we had an excellent girl’s book club in middle school. Excellent). A coming of age story about a twin who feels remarkably stuck in her sister’s shadow, Jacob Have I Loved is one of my favorites due not only to its excellent characters, but also largely in part due to the gentle denoument that allows for both forgiveness, change, and hope. 


Basically, this book is beautiful.

04. The Twenty-One Balloons, by William Pene du Bois


length: 180 pages

award: Newbery Medal, 1948

One daring hot air balloon trip across the Pacific ends with a crash on a mysterious island called Krakatoa, where the inhabitants are of a wealthy, inventor sort. One family had invented new types of beds–one that went on a lever straight through an open sky light so you could sleep under the stars, one with a crank that, when pulled, made up your bed for you. I know. I know.


I still want one of those.

05. The Witch of Blackbird Pond, by Elizabeth George Speare


length: 256 pages

award: Newbery Medal, 1959

Don’t let the age of some of these books fool you–this one most of all. Besides, this one’s historical fiction, so it can never really be dated or anything. I first read this book for school (fifth grade–it tied in with our lessons on the Salem Witch Trials) and from what I can remember, most of my classmates loved it as much as I did (although we did think it a bit odd that there was a girl named Mercy. Grace, sure, we’d heard that before–but then, we weren’t very familiar with Puritan ways). 


And so ends this week’s installment of #tbt favorites. Let me know if you have any ideas for another throwback post–Becky thinks I’ll run out of books for these, but I have a few more tricks up my sleeve to postpone that for a while longer. You’ll see.


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