The world lost a legend when we lost Tomie dePaola recently. The Cloud Book that he wrote and illustrated (Holiday House, 1975). is a one-of-a-kind, semi-comprehensive volume about clouds for early elementary children. It is written in the second person, immediately drawing in a young child. First, the book introduces clouds as drops of water

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Roots: The Saga of an American Family by Alex Haley (Doubleday, March 1976) is a truly powerful book. It follows the life of one man’s descendants, beginning in the mid-1700s, and following through to the author himself. The most amazing thing is that all of it was based on a family story passed down for

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Socks (1973) is not a Beverly Cleary book I ever discovered as a child, but I love it! It’s a simple story told from the perspective of a cat named Socks, beginning with his first day of true consciousness: the day he would be sold by the boy and girl who had taken care of

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In The Optimist’s Daughter by Eudora Welty (Random House, 1972), middle-aged Laurel Hand evaluates her life and that of her childhood associates in the wake of her father’s recent death. It is a contemplative novel about relationships, life, and hopes and dreams. At the beginning of the novel, she visits her ill father as he recovers after

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George and Martha by James Marshall. George and Martha are best friends, and James Marshall’s storybooks show us what that means. They tell the truth to each other, even if it hurts; they respect each other’s privacy; they learn what it means to be friends. They are also hippos, and that makes the illustrations to

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Madeleine L’Engle’s first memoir, A Circle of Quiet, is a different kind of book. The back cover of my copy calls it “Spirituality/Autobiography,” but this isn’t your typical spiritual tome or autobiography. For me, it was a subtle encouragement to write, because I can and I want to. This memoir is the first in a

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