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  • Lance Mannion
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Drum roll............The answer to your 10 point question is "Make Way for Ducklings" by Robert McCloskey. That's always been one of my favorite books. I, like you, have a soft spot for Boston. Every time I read that book, it brings me back to many happy times spent there.

Tell your sons they made some great reading recommendations! As a former Kindergarten teacher, my classes enjoyed many of the books they mentioned. As for some of the newer books, I try to keep up with children's literature, and have purchased a number of books for my own enjoyment. Some of us never want to grow up.


Funny that you reference Make Way for Ducklings today. I read it to my son for the first time on Sunday evening and he took several minutes to recite the ducklings' names over and over so I could commit them to memory as he had. Clearly, Ma Reader had beaten me to it and shared this delightful book with him many times, and he obviously is a big fan.


Ten points, Elsie. Now for 20. What was the name of Mike Mulligan's steam shovel?

Pa, Mothers are sneaky that way. I can't remember the first time we read Ducklings or which of us read it first, but I remember one particular reading very well. We were in Boston. Matt was 6 and Jack was 3. We went to the Public Garden and took a ride on the swan boats, and were followed by Mr and Mrs Mallard and all their kith and kin of course. You can buy a copy of the book right there at the dock, which we did, and we took it over to a shady spot in the grass and read it together right there in sight of the Mallards' island.

Bill Altreuter

A Robert McCloskey fan, and yet you omitted both "Homer Price" and "Centerburg Tales" from your otherwise excellent set of recommendations. You did, however, include Freddy, who is simply the best. The Freddys have been in and out of print, and I have always made it a practice to pick them up whenever I see them, even before I had children. For some reason they do not seem to have found the sort of wide audience that they merit, but many an Outside Counsel dinnertime conversation has been enlivened by reference to bankers who are startled by sums over five dollars, boastful ducks or grandiloquent roosters. (Indeed, I have been compared to Charles the Rooster on more than one occasion, an illustration of exactly how finely drawn the characters in the Freddys are.)


If you haven't discovered Poppleton, you haven't lived.


Okay Lance...for 20 points...Mike Mulligan's steam shovel was named MaryAnne. Isn't it pathetic that this is my area of expertise in life?? :) When I was teaching, I always made certain the children knew the name of the author of every book we read. Just the other day, I bumped into a young man I had in my Kindergarten class a number of years ago. He greeted me by saying, "Hi..."Caps for Sale", Esphyr Slobodkina." Warmed the cockles of my heart!


I used to be in a Yahoo History/Biography book club which had as its founder the author/illustrator of the Akiko books, Mark Crilley. I've looked at a couple of them, and they seem to be pretty good for the munchkin set.


You devil - 7 and down, eh? I only really got to do 7 and above (when they start to tell good stories on their own, it's time to say to Mom and Dad - "Hey, they can follow a narrative - READ TO 'EM!"
So I got to.
More a primer for the parents than for the kids, of course; kids know it all.
It was a great thrill for me to see that Public Garden, the year I lived in Cambridge and went across the Charles. There are even more ducks (and their families) who wander around the exurban wetlands of my current county - also geese, also herons. McCloskey brings a bird's life and POV close enough to make you start everytime you see one; puddles and ponds matter.
Up from 7, anything is possible - I'll wait for the next tier for that.
And the caption - William Steig, maybe?

Tilli (Mojave Desert)

Big Thanks to Alex, Matt and Lance!

I'll go down to our little village library and check 'em out before I order online. I miss city-life bookstores!

I bought the Junie B Halloween book for the kids last year and they loved it.

Happy memories of my dad reading to us from "the elephant book" (so-called because it had lost its cover and the end-pieces featured a sort of wallpaper of elephants. It was a collection of stories. I wonder what its real title was. It may have been one of my dad's childhood books.); another book with a cover illustration of kids on a book-raft sailing down a river; Uncle Remus (with my dad's southern accent and funny faces! 'Please don't put me in the briar patch.'); A. A. Milne ("When we were very young" was a great favorite and I've never forgot:' James James Morrison Morrison Weatherby George Dupree took great care of his mother though he was only three', and, of course: Bad Sir Brian Botany!); Babar; Charlotte's Web.

Like my dad, I'm a bit of a read-aholic. It's funny talking to my husband's niece about books. She's a university research librarian and very, very smart. My contribution to book-conversations with her is pretty much limited to: It was a good read!

What do you think of the Harry Potter series? I think I enjoy them because I think I'd have enjoyed reading them as a kid.

Thanks, again.

David Parsons

Don't forget _Katy and the Big Snow_ (Burton); I started reading that to my eldest son when he was about 3. And the Thomas books (the real ones, not the television spinoff ones) are very good, if you're willing to spend 30 years in advance doing research on railroads, and are willing to footnote your storyreading with long discussions on how railroads work and about which of the Thomas prototype engines still exist.

Laura Wilder's _Little House_ books are also well worth reading. I started reading the entire series to Russell when he was about two, and we read through the entire series (modulo _Farmer Boy_ and _The First Four Years_, which he didn't like because it wasn't about the Ingalls family) about three times. Those books aren't quite so good for footnoting as the Thomas books are, but since I grew up about 60 miles south of Lake Pepin, I do the best I can.


Some years ago at a library show I stood in line for over an hour to get an autographed copy of "Make Way for Ducklings." I have always thought that we parents of a certain age owe our fondness for "Ducklings" and "Mike Mulligan" to the fact that Captain Kangaroo frequently showed those wonderful Weston Woods movie-ettes for these and other great picture books. (Ferdinand). They were made by panning the actual book art, and are still out there in video form. These days my 17 year old serious reader is recommending books to me.


Oh, and Tilli, Garrison Keillor read James James Morrison Morrison etc. on Writer's Almanac on NPR a few mornings ago, and I was chanting along in the car.

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