Dear Aunt Debbie,
Thank you for the most excellent gifts you sent up with my mom from DC! Hits abound, and I will be writing more about a few of them soon.
Tonight, though, I want to mention the awesome birthday present my parents gave me at our belated celebration this weekend: 1001 Children's Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up, edited by Julia Eccleshare. It's a small, fat, heavy tome, with wonderfully thick full-color pages and hundreds of reproductions of picture book illustrations. I haven't done more than page through it yet, but it feels like an excellent reference, populated by familiar friends and books I've never heard of but now want to run out and find.
In the introduction, Eccleshare writes: "this fascinating collection offers more than just a reminder of the enduring pleasure that is to be found in children's books. Grouped into broad age bands to provide simple guidance as to who the books are primarily for, it is an invaluable guide for any adult who wants to give an informed answer to the conundrum children so often pose -- 'What shall I read next?'"
The age-range bands, indicated by rainbow-hued dictionary page-type markings at the edges of each page, seem both helpful and somewhat arguable (are Harold and the Purple Crayon and Blueberries for Sal really most appropriate for children age 5+? I'd say younger on both counts). The entry for each book provides some combination of summary and review; they're written by a stable of reviewers, with a few star-studded "featured reviewers," such as Isabel Allende and Lois Lowry. It's a beautiful book, and one I think is going to get a lot of use in this household for quite some time.