My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannet

My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannet (published 1948) won the Newbery Honor upon publication. It is an adventure story about a child and geared for a child.

In this story, a child named Elmer Elevator (called “my father” throughout the book) befriends an alley cat, who tells him of a captured dragon forced to work  on Wild Island, near the Land of Tangerina. Continue Reading

The Thirteen Clocks by James Thurber


When I saw The Thirteen Clocks by James Thurber (originally published 1950; republished New York Review of Books) had an introduction by Neil Gaiman and was a part of The New York Review Children’s Collection, I was intrigued. The Thirteen Clocks is a short and bizarre fairy tale. Or fantasty story. Neil Gaiman describes it as nothing anyone has ever seen before or since and that is about right.Continue Reading

Julia’s House for Lost Creatures by Ben Hatke


The cartoon-like illustrations in Julia’s House for Lost Creatures by Ben Hatke (First Second Books, September 2014) perfectly match the child-like imaginative story.  It begins with fantastic personification:

Julie’s house came to town and settled by the sea.

And Julia is obviously not a normal girl, for when she decides to open her home to lost creatures, she finds herself welcoming not just “patched up Kitty” but a sad troll and all sorts of other monsters.Continue Reading

The Enchanted Castle by E. Nesbit

The Enchanted Castle by E. Nesbit (published 1907) is a tale of modern magical enchantments. Three children, Gerald (Jerry), Jimmy, and Kathleen (Cathy), stumble upon a large estate that reminds them of a castle; in their play acting, they stumble upon a sleeping girl they decide must be a princess. Despite her later declaration that she is just the housemaid’s niece, Mabel, their play-acting seems to have become real when the ring she puts on has become a ring of invisibility.

Mabel, Jerry, Jimmy, and Cathy proceed to have a summer of magical adventures, for the ring’s magic powers extend much farther. Although somewhat ridiculous in its magical extent, The Enchanted Castle provides plenty of realistic moments to keep the story, as a whole, grounded for young children.Continue Reading