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>Marvin Redpost v. Stanley Yelnats

>This Guardian article about authors famous for the wrong book has me turning children’s authors and titles over in my head. I do think Paula Fox’s best book is One-Eyed Cat, not The Slave Dancer or Desperate Characters. I like Lois Lowry’s Autumn Street more than The Giver, and Hilary McKay’s The Exiles has it all over her books about the Cassons. In wake of my re-immersion in “Laura World” courtesy of Wendy McClure, I’m going with The Long Winter over any of the Wilder books with Little in the title.

Any iconoclasts feel like knocking something over?

Roger Sutton About Roger Sutton

Roger Sutton has been the editor in chief of The Horn Book, Inc, since 1996. He was previously editor of The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books and a children's and young adult librarian. He received his M.A. in library science from the University of Chicago in 1982 and a B.A. from Pitzer College in 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @RogerReads.



  1. >My vote for best Wilder book is Farmer Boy.

  2. Alphabetty says:

    >I love Marvin Redpost. Some really real and touching stuff in those little books in addition to lotsa laffs.

  3. Anonymous says:

    >I'll chime in with Paterson's 'Jacob Have I Loved'.

  4. Roger Sutton says:

    >Paterson's Rebels of the Heavenly Kingdom gets overlooked, too.

  5. >Suzanne Collins has gotten a lot of (well-deserved) press for the Hunger Games trilogy, but I think her series for younger readers, the Gregor the Overlander books, makes similar points in really creative ways for younger readers. And they have gotten no attention at all.

  6. KT Horning says:

    >I'll second Autumn Street. It's one of my all-time favorite children's books. I'm always surprised that more people haven't heard of it.

    I'll add "Figgs & Phantoms" over "The Westing Game" for Ellen Raskin.

    "Words of Stone" over "Olive's Ocean" for Kevin Henkes.

    "The Wright Brothers" over "Lincoln: A Photobiography" for Russell Freedman

    "McElligot's Pool" over "The Lorax" for Dr. Seuss.

  7. Peter D. Sieruta says:

    >As much as I (and everyone else) loves E.L. Konigsburg's FROM THE MIXED-UP FILES…., I think JENNIFER, HECATE, MACBETH… has a tighter plot, better pacing, and packs more of an emotional wallop.

  8. Elizabeth "Wearing her pajamas with clowns on them" Law says:

    >I love Autumn Street, too, and though I only read it once I have thought about it again and again. But if you want a masterpiece of humorous middle-grade fiction, Lowry's best book is Anastasia Again. It's a perfect example of the form.

  9. Kristin Cashore says:

    >Could not agree more about The Long Winter. Just thinking about it, my hands hurt from twisting hay.

  10. Shoshana says:

    >This may be a writer's sentimentality talking, but I'll take L.M. Montgomery's persistent scribbler Emily over Anne, much as I love them both.

  11. Elizabeth says:

    >Kristin, you think about twisting the hay? I always worry that I would have broken the coffee grinder that ground the grain for their one daily bisquit apiece. As I recall it was constantly in use during the last months before the train with supplies finally in. But (I hate to start this fight again) I have never felt Roger grasped the magnificence of the early Little House books enough. Long Winter is Great, yes, but so are the books that come before it.

  12. >Frances Hodgson Burnett's A Little Princess, rather than The Secret Garden, and Noel Streatfield's The Painted Garden over all The Shoes books.

  13. Rosanne Parry says:

    >Last week I heard David Laskin speak about his book The Children's Blizzard, an account of the blizzard of 1888. His research was extensive and one of the things he discovered was repeated accounts of the all things the Wilders did to survive in The Long Winter–the twisting of hay, grinding wheat in coffee mills, eating seed wheat. That her entire family survived was pretty amazing. It made me realize in retrospect how well Wilder managed to be honest and meticulously detailed without being morbid. That's not so easy.

  14. Anonymous says:

    >All Alone in the Universe over Criss Cross.

    A Drowned Maiden's Hair over Good Masters! Sweet Ladies!

    The Outside Shot over most of the rest of the Walter Dean Myers oeuvre.

  15. >Zilpha Keatley Snyder's The Changeling over The Egypt Game.

    Seconding Jacob Have I Loved for Katherine Paterson.

    I far prefer The Hobbit to The Lord of the Rings.

  16. Anonymous says:

    >Hey, Anonymous, I couldn't agree more about A Drowned Maiden's Hair. I think Criss Cross is wonderful, but I could be persuaded about All Alone in the Universe.

    And Roger, The Exiles are brilliant. I wonder if they don't get the love because of the book burning in the first book. SHE BURNT THE BOOKS. I think maybe we can't do that even in fiction. I loved the book but haven't been able to re-read it because I was sickened by the HORROR. The second is my favorite.


  17. eshinrichs75 says:

    >I love When the Wind Blew over many of Margaret Wise Brown's other titles.

  18. >I agree with Laura about Gregor the Overlander. I think that series is very good at what it is supposed to be–a kids' adventure/questing-type story. I actually prefer it to The Hunger Games.

  19. Genevieve says:

    >YES to The Changeling and A Drowned Maiden's Hair as the best of those authors' books.

    And while I like many of the other Little House books, The Long Winter wins by a mile. Elizabeth, I will never think of it again without worrying that I would've broken the grinder. Because I certainly would've.

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