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Unregistered User
(5/19/02 7:45:48 am)
THE 50 best books
Hi all,

I recently recieved a complimentary copy of Parent magazine and as I was flipping through it a title grab my attention. It claimed to list (I kid you not) THE 50 best children's books. Now there were a few fairy tales among them, but after reviewing the article I found no language limiting the claim or suggesting that this was only a beginning to all the wonderful things out there. Even Jim Trelease's extensive "Read Aloud" list in his Read Aloud Handbook suggests that this is a mere starting point and should not ever expect to be considered all inclusive. Obviously, the books included that I was familiar with are truly wonderful books andI would do anything to have the world reading, but....

Included in the list were Paul O. Zelinsky's Rapunzel and Ed Young's Lon Po Po: A Red-Riding Hood Story from China. There were several fantasy books including Where the Wild Things Are. And a book by one of our favorite board posters Owl Moon by Jane Yolen (Jane, I haven't read this particular book so I don't know how to categorize it).

I would love your thoughts. I would love to contact them about someone writing "an importance of fairy tales article" for the magazine. They accept unsolicited manuscripts. I believe they have a reading section every month or every other month.


Jane Yolen
Unregistered User
(5/19/02 9:52:19 pm)
OWL MOON is not a fairy tale, but a simple picture book about a child (a little girl) out for a walk in thme woods with her father who calls down owls.

It won the Caldecott Medal in 1988.


Unregistered User
(5/20/02 6:59:41 am)
50 "best" books

I looked up the book on Amazon. We have definitely not read it. I will have to check it out from the library (we have most everything you written that our library has. Unfortunately, its collection isn't complete, but I am sure they have this book.

My point is the same though. There are thousands of really wonderful books out there. I know some parents/kids who look for lists such as "The 50 Best books" and then think that their library is complete, I am sorry to say. Why not just entitle the article "50 Fabulous Books"? Why "best"?

What a joy it is for children to discover books to their own tastes and interests. I know there are some really bad books out there. There are so many books that my children love more than some on the list, however, that are truly delightful books.

Rather than pan the idea of a best book list, I think it would be wonderful to augment it. Nevertheless, I have a hard time writing "best" on any book.

Would any of you hardworking librarians, teachers, authors, illustraitors, or phd students be interested in working with me on developing an article on the subject of fairy tales, folklore and young children's reading?


Charles Vess
Unregistered User
(5/20/02 7:01:39 am)
Under an Owl Moon...
And one of the most perfectly beautifull picture books out there.

Words and art, joined seemlessly to construct an evocative, moody celebration of everyday (or in this case, night) magic.

That book and WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE are the bookends of my collection of childrens literature.

Just sublime...


PS> And on the subject of this post: Any "best of" listing of childrens literature that doesn't have it's fair share of folk and fairy tale narratives looses all credability with me.

Jane Yolen
Unregistered User
(5/20/02 8:01:48 am)
Jess--I agree. Any time I see a list of The Best 10/50/100 books, I think: "Who made YOU arbiter of taste?" Because there will be at least half the books on the list I would also put on and half I disagree with.

Same with adult books. I love MOBY DICK, hate Proust; love the Brontes and am mild on Jane Austin; adore the Russians and am cool to most of the top Germans. My husband and I come to verbal blow over A. E. Housman.

I also agree with Charles. Any Best of. . .list that leaves out great fairy tales is not a list I want to be part of.


PS Charles, I blush at your praise.

Registered User
(5/20/02 8:02:02 am)
Re: Under an Owl Moon...
I have to agree with Charles on those two books.

What's the idea behind the article, Jess?


Charles Vess
Unregistered User
(5/20/02 10:28:56 am)
A short list...
Perhaps, since I'm working on one of my own my thoughts are deep into picture books...

In no particular order and with many probable misspellings (most of my collection is at home so I can't just pull the books down and spell check the names, sigh).

FERDINAND THE BULL by Munro Leaf and Robert Lawson
THE SCROOBIUS PIP by Edward Lear and Nancy Eckholm Burkert
JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH by R. Dial and N. E. Burkert
THE WIDOW'S BROOM by Chris Van Allsburg
SUNDIATA, THE LION KING by David Wisniewski
THE TALKING EGGS by Robert San Souci and Jerry Pinkney
THE CHILDREN OF LYRR by Sheila MacGill-Callahan and Gennady Spirin
THE FROG PRINCESS by J. Patrick Lewis and Gennady Spirin
MELISANDE by E. Nesbit and P.J. Lynch
IN THE NIGHT KITCHEN by Maurice Sendak
TUESDAY by David Weisner

Something with Johnny Gruelle's art in it. Probably his early collection of Grimm's Fairy Tales.

I can't think of specific titles, but at least one book with work by Dennis Nolan, Lauren Mills, Leo & Diane Dillon, Arthur Rackham, Edmond Dulac, Kay Neilsen, Ivan Bilibin, John Bauer, Trina Schart Hyman, and Ernest Shepherd is needed on this list.

Okay,I'm blanking already, but that's enough to start with I think...


Unregistered User
(5/20/02 11:15:38 am)
The 50 best books
Some thoughts:

Parents is a magazine with 14 million readers (according to its website). I have looked at its submission guidlines, and I think there is a possibility here, although the editors like authors with significant publications (I have three, but they are rather eclectic). Still, if we can put together a compelling article, I think we can make something of it. And if we don't get published there, well, there are lots of parenting type magazines.

The idea of the article is to introduce to and expand interest in fairy tales, folklore and fantasy among children.

The target market of Parents (and the article) is parents of children ages 0 to 6 with some interest in all early elementary school age kids. These parents are looking for advice, validation, and activities. The magazine likes to have pithy articles, and it likes quotes from parents (no problem there) and professionals in the field which is where we would need cooperation. Having said all of this, my thoughts were:

1) to have an article - an essay with an introduction to fairytales, folklore and fantasy. It would describe what they are why it is important for young children to be introduced to these works.
2) a suggested list of age appropriate "fun activities" that incorporate fairy tales or folklore. The idea would be to bring these stories alive for young readers. Storybook cooking is one idea (and Jane, if your cookbook is coming out, I would want to include it in the activities list). Another would be a scavenger hunt to try and find as many different versions of a story, e.g. Cinderella, in the library with the help of the parent, of course, and then to read and compare the different stories. I hope you get the idea.
3) some suggested age appropriate books that are in print- I would be very careful not to say the best anywhere. I would again want help compiling the list.

Ideally, I would want to work with others to put this together. One of you might want to take a whole piece and authorship of that piece.

We could submit a completed manuscript or merely one page outlines for each part with the author(s) names per the submission guidelines. Then keep our fingers crossed and see if it flies.

My email is if anyone is interested in helping.

Further suggestions on the board are of course appreciated.


Charles Vess
Unregistered User
(5/20/02 6:12:49 pm)
Opps, I can't believe I forget...
One of my favorite illustrators, Lizbeth Zwerger.

I absolutely love her work...

I'm also absolutely sure that I'll remember more.


Unregistered User
(5/20/02 6:34:10 pm)
The 50 Best Books

I love your list! So much fun. I sit anticipating each new addition.

Anyone else?


Charles Vess
Unregistered User
(5/21/02 7:58:42 am)
Yet another addition and a correction...
I also want to add, EVERYONE KNOWS WHAT A DRAGON LOOKS LIKE by Jay Williams and Mercer Mayer.

And correct an entry to my intial list.

It's just, RAIN MAKES APPLESAUCE by Julian Scheer and Marvin Billeck. Not at all a fairy tale or even based on fairy tale themes but a beautifully whimsical exercise of the power of imagination.

Jess, good luck with your proposed article I think it's a very good idea AND much needed.If you want to use any of the books from my list I'd be happy to supply you with additional information on them.


Unregistered User
(5/21/02 3:29:24 pm)
best beloved illustrated books...
Charles & co

I own so many of the books you've listed! I have loved children's book illustrations straight out of childhood and never stopped.

Anything by & white line illus winking at the British tradition as well as his wickedly funny cartoony style.

Nicola Bayley's art, especially in The Mouldy by William Mayne

H. A. Rey's haunting lithographs in Christian Morgenstern's The Daynight Lamp. He is also illustrator of Curious George but this is sooo different.

Pauline Bayne's poised & inviting line illustrations in A Treasury of French Tales

Love K.Y. Craft's lush decorative fairytale/myth books, especially Midas.

I could go on and on and on.

I have to thank Uri Shulevitz for teaching me in a workshop about making picture books. He is a genius. His book WRITING WITH PICTURES is the best I've ever seen on how to use this versatile form. Some of his books are just so well put together & haunting.

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This is an archived string from the
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