I grew up on these books. If the only version of Pooh you know is from Disney, I beg of you to read the originals, with the original illustrations. Please. The language is fantastic, and will quite possibly add phrases to your family’s lexicon. The illustrations are just right, without the cutesiness of the Disney version. The books of poetry are also good, but the original two books of stories ought to be part of any child’s storybank, and any adults who missed out the first time still have the chance to catch up. Then, play a game of Poohsticks.

Author: A.A. Milne

Illustrator: E.H. Shepard


 Ten years have passed since Alanna of Trebond made it legal for girls to be knights, but Keladry is the first to actually attempt it. The law may be on her side, but that doesn’t mean anyone wants to make it easy for the first-ever girl squire, and many logistics and attitudes haven’t been worked out. What’s more, Alanna can’t show any favoritism, so she doesn’t even get to meet her heroine for the first while. Kel’s story demonstrates the frustrations of anyone trying to break into a job or culture where their “kind” has been banned in the past.

Author: Tamora Pierce

Order: First Test; Page; Squire; Lady Knight

Tortall Series: Song of the LionessImmortals; Protector of the Small; TricksterBeka Cooper

Tricksters Duet

 Aly is the daughter of the illustrious Alanna of Trebond, and so has a lot to live up to. A young spy, she takes on a mission to a very different culture (vaguely Japanese). As always, Pierce’s young female characters are spunky, intelligent, and get into just enough scrapes to be amusing. This series is written as two longer novels instead of Pierce’s previous quartet format, in part thanks to the success of the very long Harry Potter books. I recommend Pierce’s work to middle- and high-school students of any gender, even though the main characters are almost always girls.

Author: Tamora Pierce

Order: Trickster’s Choice; Trickster’s Queen

Tortall Series: Song of the LionessImmortals; Protector of the Small; TricksterBeka Cooper

Immortals Quartet

Daine is another in the pantheon of Pierce’s fabulous female characters.  She can speak to animals, and her Gift changes the animals as well, giving them somewhat human characteristics.  This makes for some great human/animal conversations.  Daine’s teacher is also a complex and interesting character, and we get to understand how magic works in this world. Magic-wielders and displeased gods abound, and Daine must figure out her place in the world – even if it sometimes seems that she would rather run away and join a wolf pack.  Evidently, there is a new series in this story line in the works.

Author: Tamora Pierce

Order: Wild Magic; Wolf-Speaker; Emperor Mage; The Realm of the Gods

Tortall Series: Song of the Lioness; Immortals; Protector of the Small; TricksterBeka Cooper

I can’t say how many times I’ve read these books.  Tamora Pierce’s work deserves pride of place in the canon of modern, strong-girl fantasy adventure (if that’s a genre).  Alanna pretends to be her brother, so she can go train as a knight and he can go train as a magic-user.  From there, you can probably predict the plot, identity twists and all.  Predictable though it may be, this series is also engaging, funny, and exciting.  Alanna and her friends are great characters, and this series has been continued with, to date, four other series in the same universe.

Author: Tamora Pierce

Order: Alanna: The First Adventure; In the Hand of the Goddess; The Woman Who Rides Like a Man; Lioness Rampant

Tortall Series: Song of the LionessImmortals; Protector of the Small; TricksterBeka Cooper

Green-Sky Trilogy

A utopian future on a planet with lowered gravity, psychic abilities, and naturally abundant food – what could be better?  I read these books repeatedly as a kid, and still love them today.  Of course, the utopia cracks under the pressure of the secrets it is keeping, and courageous children must save the day.  The trilogy is a surprisingly sophisticated analysis of utopian ideals, for books aimed at children.  The cultures that evolved on this planet are well-reasoned extensions of their histories, and the overall story is believable, given the premise.  Plus, people get to fly and sleep in nests.

Author: Zilpha Keatley Snyder

Order: Below the Root; And All Between; Until the Celebration


David’s father is a psychologist who specializes in troubled teens.  His current patient is Zelda, a beautiful girl in a bikini who claims she is an alien from an all-female planet, sent to find her one true mate (who happens to be Johnny Depp.)  I was expecting a sort of “is she or isn’t she?” story, where we would end the book unclear as to whether Zelda was mentally ill or actually an alien.  That question is answered about halfway through, when the book takes a decidedly old-school sci-fi turn.  I would have preferred the uncertainty.  A strange little book.

Author: Gary Ghislain
LibraryThing Early Reviewers

Expected release date: June 8, 2011