This batch was slightly off for a few reasons. It seemed like the books I liked best were not Peanut-friendly. The ones I disliked, she gravitated toward. Goes to show, you can’t predict kids.
The first iteration of this post, on Zwolanerd.com, was missing The Giving Tree because I somehow skipped it.
85. The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
This is the first book on the list that we already had an have read a bunch of times. If you haven’t read this one (and I only read it for the first time after we bought it for Peanut), a boy spends a lot of time sitting under, playing around, and eating the apples of a tree, presumably in his backyard but we aren’t ever told. Over time, the boy grows up and has less need of the tree, except for the primary resources that he can extract from it (apples to sell, wood to build with, etc), and the tree freely gives everything she has but misses the company of the boy. In the end, the boy is an old man, and too old to do much of anything but sit. So the tree offers her stump – all that’s left – and the boy stays with the tree, presumably dying right there. And since the boy is with the tree, the tree is happy.
If you think about this too much, it is really messed up, but I get that it’s a somewhat sweet story of love and friendship, and even forgiveness. Critics/readers are pretty divided on the whole thing, and there’s a collection of essays on the book that go between positive and negative interpretations. Personally, I take the book as a parent-child relationship, and see it as how children take and take and parents give and give, and there are no hard feelings from the parents, despite how they could be seen as being “used”. I feel like as a parent, you give of yourself, and your children take those “pieces” of you, like apples or branches, and create something with them. I hope that in the end, they reflect on those sacrifices and appreciate it.
Oh, and I should mention that Peanut really likes this book a lot, in case the fact that we’ve read it a bunch of times didn’t make that clear.
85. Not a Box by Antoinette Portis
This is a short one, where a Rabbit has a cardboard box and imagines all the different pretend things the box can be. The box and Rabbit are in black and the imaginary things are in red. This is another one where the reader needs to make inferences, and I felt like I had to explain it. She didn’t really ask for it to be read too many times.
The book was inspired by the author’s own childhood play and use of cardboard boxes, with one specific memory of sitting in a box with her sister being the catalyst. She also chose a bunny because it would be easy to keep the character gender neutral.
84. Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson
This book was cute and easy to read because it is written in rhyming stanzas. A bear is sleeping in a cave and all the neighboring animals come and have a party in his cave while he sleeps. Peanut didn’t really seem to enjoy this one although it seemed to be one she should like. We have a different book about the same bear that she enjoyed.
This author is pretty prolific and we have read many of her books before, so I was surprised to read that Bear Snores On was her very first! Maybe that’s the problem, it suffers from New Writer Syndrome.
83. A Visitor For Bear by Bonny Becker
This one was definitely a favorite. A bear (a different bear) is making his breakfast and a mouse keeps somehow sneaking in. The bear insists on no visitors but eventually the mouse wears him down. He realizes that he does like visitors after all. It was pretty cute and Peanut requested it several times.
I was delighted to discover this book is the first in a series. This was the author’s first book (a lot of first books on this list so far!), and came up because the mouse just “popped into” her head, much like the mouse does in the story.
82. Fortunately by Remy Charlip
Not sure what I was expecting from this book, but this wasn’t it. It’s a pretty short story, with alternating phrases. Fortunately, such and such happened, but unfortunately, this happened. Then fortunately… And repeat until the end. It got a little annoying to read. But Peanut asked for it a couple of times and seemed to enjoy it, although her favorite page was the tunnel with tigers stuck in it, mostly because she liked tracing the shape of the tunnel with her fingers.
This book was acquired and republished by Simon and Schuster in 1969 replacing the “fortunately” with “what good luck,” and “unfortunately” with “what bad luck.” It reverted back not long after, but acquiring the modified book can be a rare find and worth some cash.
Books 80-76 are on their way, including the first purchase I’ve had to make to complete this project!