My favorite author of children’s chapter books is Patricia MacLachlan. She has written many chapter books for children, as well as numerous picture books. Her books focus on family life and are populated by endearing characters who learn and grow through their experiences in the book. I am a huge animal lover and I like that most of her books include animals, who are always treated with respect and kindness. She has a daughter who is also an author and they have written a number of books together. My favorite chapter book written by MacLachlan is Arthur for the Very First Time. It is a sweet and funny story filled with wonderful characters. Here is a partial bibliography of her chapter books:
Seven Kisses in a Row
Sarah, Plain and Tall and its sequels
Arthur, For the Very First Time
The Facts and Fictions of Minna Pratt
Waiting for the Magic
The True Gift: A Christmas Story
The Truth of Me
White Fur Flying
Meindert DeJong is one of my favorite authors for children because of his compassion for animals. I am an animal lover and am passionate about animal rights. Many of his chapter books for children feature animals such as dogs as main characters and they are always portrayed with kindness, compassion, and respect. His book Hurry Home Candy made a deep impression upon me. It is a beautifully written story about a homeless dog’s journey to finding a forever home and family. It really touched my heart. The book won the Newbery Honor Medal. Two other DeJong books that were about animals that also won the Newbery Honor Medal are also among my favorites: Along Came a Dog tells of the friendship that develops between a homeless dog, lonely and searching for his place in the world, and a lame hen be befriends on a farm. The book does not shy away from the harsh realities of farm life, but the love between the animals prevails. Shadrach is about the love of a child for his pet rabbit and the bond between the two. Another book of DeJong’s that I just recently discovered and read is called The Last Little Cat. It tells the story of a kitten born in a dog kennel, of all places, and how the kitten and a blind, elderly dog who lives in the kennel become friends. Most of DeJong’s award-winning books were written in the 1950s and 1960s. He was born in 1906 and passed away in 1991. Some of his book had gone out of print and I am glad to see them coming back into print. DeJong’s books are written with so much compassion and respect for life – they are wonderful books to read to children to teach them humanity and kindness.
Elizabeth Enright is also one of my favorite children’s authors. Enright was born in 1907 and passed away in 1968. Most of her chapter books for children that I enjoy were published in the 1940s and 1950s. They have an old-fashioned charm about them that I love. I wish life today was more like it was portrayed in her books. She had a great talent for portraying children realistically, with their childhood thoughts and dreams. I love reading about the adventures her characters experience in her books, nothing outrageous or unrealistic, but joyful childhood experiences that her writing brings to life and makes exciting. One of my all-time favorite children’s chapter books was written by Enright: Gone Away Lake, about the adventures of a sister, her little brother, and their cousin one summer while they are visiting the cousin’s family in their new home. The three children meet and befriend an eccentric elderly brother and sister who live nearby. The book won the Newbery Honor Medal. It was followed by a sequel, Return to Gone Away, that I also loved. Her characters are full of warmth and life and the books are so sweet and pleasant. Enright won the Newbery Medal for her book, Thimble Summer, about the summer adventures of a young girl living on a rural farm. Enright also wrote a quartet of books about the Melendy family: The Saturdays, The Four Story Mistake, Then There Were Five, and Spiderweb for Two: A Melendy Maze. These books follow the adventures of the four Melendy siblings over the years. The stories begin in the city, then the family moves to a big house in the country. The books are charming and light-hearted as they tell of innocent childhood adventures.
Kate DiCamillo is one of the finest children’s authors writing today. She is a multiple recipient of the Newbery Medal, having won it in 2004 and again in 2014, as well as winning the Newbery Honor in 2001. She has also won other awards, including the Theodor Seuss Geisel Award and the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award for Fiction. My favorite book of DiCamillo’s is Because of Winn Dixie, a touching novel about a young girl coming to terms with her mother’s abandonment of her, with the help of a stray dog she adopts, named Winn Dixie in honor of the supermarket where she found the dog. I was also very moved by The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, about a selfish rabbit who falls on hard times and learns humility and gratitude. I also am highly entertained by her light-hearted and funny series about a pig named Mercy Watson and her outrageous escapades. Below is a partial bibliography of her works:
Because of Winn Dixie
The Tiger Rising
The Tale of Despereaux
Mercy Watson to the Rescue
The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane
Flora & Ulysses
Philippa Pearce was a British author of children’s literature. She was born in 1920 and passed away in 2006. She wrote both chapter books for children and picture books. Her first book is one of my favorites. Minnow on the Say is an exciting story about two boys searching for a lost treasure. They have to decipher clues left behind in order to find the treasure and save the family home. Although the book was published many years ago, I think children today would still enjoy it because of the universal appeal of treasure-hunting and the joy of two boys canoeing down a river. Pearce is most famous for her Carnegie Medal winning book, Tom’s Midnight Garden, which is a time travel fantasy about a boy spending the holidays with his aunt and uncle who meets a mysterious girl after the clock strikes thirteen one night. Another book of Pearce’s that I enjoyed is the The Elm Street Lot, a fun read about a group of children getting in mischief in their neighborhood. Other books by Pearce include:
The Way to Sattin Shore
The Little Gentleman
A Dog So Small
Amy’s Three Best Things
The Battle of Bubble and Squeak
A Finder’s Magic
Unfortunately, many of Pearce’s books, with the exception of Tom’s Midnight Garden, are now out of print. However, you may be able to find a copy at your local library.
I love Polly Horvath’s chapter books for children. Her characters are quirky and eccentric, but with warm hearts. Horvath grew up in the Midwestern United States and now lives in British Columbia, Canada, in a rural area. This location has served as a setting in some of her novels.
My favorite books by Horvath are:
Everything on a Waffle, which won the Newbery Honor. Eleven-year-old Primrose’s parents are missing, presumed dead after an accident at sea, but Primrose does not believe that they died. In the meantime, her Uncle Jack has taken her in and Miss Bowzer, the owner of a local restaurant in which everything is served on a waffle, is an understanding friend to her. The book is very funny, filled with entertaining, quirky characters, and some wise observations on life.
The Trolls, a story with some darker undertones and sadness, about eccentric Aunt Sally, who comes to babysit three siblings while their parents are away on a trip. She was the last choice for a babysitter as she and her brother, the children’s father, are estranged. Aunt Sally is full of tall tales about her and her brother’s childhood, each more funny and outrageous than the last. However, as Aunt Sally tells her wild tales, we realize that she is leading up to an incident from her childhood that led to the family’s estrangement. In the end, the children learn a lesson about how precious family really is and that we should be kind to one another.
The Canning Season, which won the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature. A heartwarming story about 13-year-old Ratchet, a lonely girl with a cruel mother who dumps her for the summer with two elderly relatives, 90-year-old twins. Over the course of the summer, Ratchet learns lessons about love and family from the twins that she would have never learned from her absent mother. The book is both funny and dark in some places, typical of a Horvath title.
Below is a partial bibliography of Horvath’s work:
The Happy Yellow Car
When the Circus Came to Town
Northward to the Moon
One Year in Coal Harbor
My 100 Adventures
Lord and Lady Bunny – Almost Royalty
Edith Nesbit, or E. Nesbit as she was also known, was a popular author of children’s fantasy. She also wrote novels for adults. She was born in 1858 and passed away in 1924. She was a prolific author, publishing 44 novels over the course of her life. Although old-fashioned because they were set in a different time period, her books are still popular today because of their plots: exciting adventures involving treasure and magical adventures. One of my favorite books by Nesbit is The House of Arden, about the Arden children, once a prosperous family and now on the verge of ruin, searching for the alleged family treasure that has been hidden away for centuries. With the help of a magical creature, the siblings travel through time searching for clues to the whereabouts of the treasure. The story was very exciting and filled with adventure, time travel, and magic. There was sequel to this book entitled Harding’s Luck. Another book I enjoyed was Five Children and It, about a group of siblings who find a fairy who grants them wishes. However, the wishes never turn out the way the children imagined. The fairy is very cranky and disagreeable, so he is an entertaining character and the adventures the children have are fun and exciting. This book was the first in a trilogy; it was followed by The Phoenix and the Carpet and The Story of the Amulet. In The Enchanted Castle, three siblings enter an enchanted garden where they find a magical ring and awaken a sleeping princess. This was another book full of magical adventures had by ordinary children.
Below is a partial bibliography of Nesbit’s work:
The Railway Children
Story of the Treasure Seekers
The New Treasure Seekers
Beverly Clearly is a beloved children’s author. Her series of chapter books about Henry Huggins, Ramona Quimby, Ribsy the dog, Socks the cat, Ralph S. Mouse, and others have been read and loved by millions of children. She is also the author of several picture books. She has been publishing books since the 1970s and is still popular with children today. As a child in the 1980s, her books were some of my favorites. She writes with great love and respect for children and portrays children’s lives and voices in a realistic manner. She has won the Newbery Medal, the Newbery Honor, and was named a “Living Legend” by the Library of Congress in 2000. As somewhat of a tomboy and a dog lover, I think my favorite of her books are those about Henry Huggins and his dog Ribsy. I also love reading about Ramona’s many escapades.
Below is a partial bibliography of Cleary’s work:
Beezus and Ramona
Ramona the Pest
Ramona the Brave
Ramona and Her Father
Ramona and Her Mother
Ramona Quimby, Age 8
Henry and Beezus
Henry and Ribsy
Henry and the Paper Route
Henry and the Clubhouse
The Mouse and the Motorcycle
Ralph S. Mouse
Mitch and Amy
Dear Mr. Henshaw