Children's Literature: Wrapup and Post-1960 Bonus

It's the end of January and sadly, the end of our celebration of classic children's literature.  I hope you read The Princess and the Goblin, or read some other children's classic and blogged about it, or maybe put some titles on your TBR list.  I've had a lot of fun digging through my memory for favorite books and authors, and I've learned a lot about those authors while I was researching. 

Our rules stated that we would keep to books pre-1960, but I do want to include two   three  four last authors for you to make sure to read.  They are a little more recent, but not by much!

Joan Aiken--well, everybody's read The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, but there are 12 books in the series and they're all pretty fantastic (in both senses of the word).  Aiken's alternate history for Britain includes Jacobean kings and Hanoverian plotters who want to take over the throne with improbable schemes.  (I often have to think hard to remember that there was no English king called James III--or Jamie Three as his friends call him).

But my very favorite Aiken books are about Arabel and Mortimer, and I always seem to be the only person who knows them (well, not now that I've given the books to half my kids' friends as birthday presents), so I'm going to tell you too.  Arabel is a lovely sweet little girl who deeply loves her horrible pet raven, Mortimer.  Mortimer's adventures are enormously funny and guaranteed to tickle children in just the right spot.

Jane Langton--Langton has a great knowledge American history and philosophy, and her children's books blend those interests with magic.  The Diamond in the Window is about a brother and sister who start to follow a trail of magical dreams set up years ago...but a sinister power changed the dreams into traps that once caught another pair of children.  Langton continued the series with several other books, and they are both unusual and fun.

Edward Ardizzone--he was mostly an artist and illustrator, but also wrote lovely picture books.  Some of them are part of the Little Tim series, about Tim who wants nothing more than to be a sailor.  On his voyages, he makes friends with Ginger, Charlotte, and dog Towser, and is frequently shipwrecked.  Peter the Wanderer is a stand-alone title about Peter who meets a sailor, who then drops his most precious possession.  Peter pursues the sailor for weeks and months, barely staying ahead of the sinister men following him.

Jean Merrill--her book The Pushcart War is a favorite of my daughter's, and won a Horn Book prize too.  The truck companies in New York City have hatched a conspiracy to drive all other traffic off the streets, but the little pushcart owners fight back with a Pea-Shooter Campaign.  Merrill is also the author of my all-time favorite picture book, The Elephant Who Liked to Smash Small Cars.  Is that not the most perfect title anyone ever came up with?

And that is the end of our celebration.  I hope you liked it!  As you can see I've done little other blogging this month, and I have several books to tell you about.  I can also share the wonderful news that as of today, the Bookstore has reached its funding goal and will stay open! 


  1. Jean, you have done a *fantastic* job on all the children's authors posts! Bravo!

  2. Thanks so much! I hope they're useful to people. I liked putting them together and hoping that maybe I could help keep these books in people's minds for a little while.

  3. Four more authors I've never heard of! (No, not quite true--I've heard of The Pushcart War but not the author.) I've had so much fun reading all your posts this month and learning about new authors and books. I hope you had as much fun writing them!


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