My ten very favorite books--which is to say, ten books I re-read often—are:
The Thirteen Clocks. Which is, if you have not read it, more craftily written than anything you've read.
Half Magic. My next book, Any Which Wall (Random House Books for Young Reader, 2009) is actually kind of an homage to this book, and to Eager's magic books in general.Ballet Shoes. This book was my very favorite book for several years when I was little. I was a dancer myself, but I was also a very young Anglophile. And I wanted desperately to be an orphan.
Mrs. Piggle Wiggle. I love the humor of all the Mrs. Piggle Wiggle books, the word play and the ridiculousness of the parents especially. And I LOVE the original art.
Mary Poppins Opens the Door. I love that these books are at once proper, and also kind of iconoclastic. Mar Poppins is a radical in very tightly laced shoes! I love the little poems and the classical references.
King Matt the First. This book is CRAZY! It's nuts. If you haven't read it, and you don't mind a book that pushes the limits of "acceptable" reading for kids (it's kind of offensive in parts), do so at once! I wish I read more books written in other languages.
The Last Battle. Hard for me to admit this, as a Jewish author. And I'll admit it's insulting to Arab culture. but I love to go back to this one, for a lesson in how to encode political/ religious/moralistic ideas effectively. The dwarves are for the dwarves!
And I'm going to add a few adult books if I may, because I'm a big believer that everything you read, see, eat, and encounter blends into what you write. Everything!
Angle of Repose. Though really, almost any of Stegner's novels could go on this list. He’s who I turn to for a challenge, the king of smart, but accessible writing. This one starts slow, but it's soooo worth it! Berryman is really important for me. I dip into him once a week or so. He's a lesson in how sometimes you can invent a new way of saying something everyone will immediately understand.
Great list, Laurel! But we think we'll read Up and Down the Scratchy Mountains before we dip into anything else. Congratulations on your launch!