Recovering Children's Librarian Picks her Favorites

December 17th, 2007

Due to a recent article I wrote about Phillip Pullman and The Golden Compass, I had a request to mention some of my favorite children’s books. There is only one author that I begin this series of posts with – one of my very favorite children’s authors of all time – Arnold Lobel.

Arnold started out as an illustrator during the “Dick see Jane…run Spot run era of children’s literature.” Soon after Dr. Seuss swept onto the scene and introduced a drastically new approach to children’s books and how they are written, Arnold Lobel was encouraged, by his agent, to write an “easy reader”. The resulting book Frog and Toad are Friends left a deep impression on the children’s literary market with Lobel’s dry wit and quirky sense of humor.

Since he was trying to write an “easy reader” Arnold used short sentences and oft repeated words and phrases in the first book. This style of writing made his characters, Frog and Toad, seem almost neurotic or maybe they just are neurotic, either way, it became a stylistic part of their charm creating a book that was funny and warm and was named a Caldecott Honor book.

The Frog and Toad books are classics. We read these books to all of our boys, but also found that one of the few ways we could get our oldest son to sleep at night without hours of drama, was to play the Frog and Toad tapes in his room after the lights were out. Lobel’s deep warm voice somehow comforted our son and miraculously soothed him to sleep.

Frog and Toad are so recognizable, funny and endearing that you will find yourself laughing out loud as you read them and comparing them to people you know or to yourself and your spouse which is what we inevitably did. The Country Doctor is sooooo Frog and I am sooooo Toad. I still love to read these books and I have read these books literally hundreds of times.

A series of books that is somewhat similar to the Frog and Toad series are the George and Martha Books by James Marshall. Also an illustrator, James created two hippos to share stories of silliness and demonstrate how to be a good friend. These stories are told in a more traditional picture book format, while Frog and Toad are easy readers, but kids of all ages will enjoy them.

So if you are looking for a good set of books to check out from your local library, buy at your local bookstore or HEY – even purchase RIGHT HERE on my site! I would have to recommend Arnold Lobel and James Marshall. I can almost guarantee that you will not be disappointed.