This week Reel Girl recommends 3 classics:
George and Martha: The Complete Stories of Two Best Friends
The George and Martha series is practically perfect. The characters are great, smart, compassionate, and real. Their friendship is magical and special; there is nothing saccharine about this pair. The stories are beautifully illustrated and as short and poetic as haikus.
Of course, I love that the entire series is based on a cross-gender friendship; it’s impossible to label this series for girls or for boys.
As with most books that feature a character of each gender in the title, George comes first. This annoys me. If this sequence happened once in a while, or even half the time, it would be no big deal, but the consistency of this pattern in kidlit is quite amazing.
Reel Girl rates George and Martha ***HH***
A Bargain for Frances
I named my first daughter Lucy after the heroine from Narnia, my second Alice after you know who, and I almost named my third Frances. I didn’t because Frances doesn’t hold the iconic stature in my imagination as the other two (no one did except for Dorothy, but because that isn’t one of my favorite names, I went with Rose.) But I will always love Frances.
The entire series is great, but Bargain is my favorite. Thelma, Frances’s frenemy does some serious mean plotting, but Frances uses smarts to get her back. The only issue with this story is that young kids won’t get it. It takes some sophistication to keep up with Frances’s revenge. One thing I love about this story is how it shows the high-level strategies going on behind an “innocent” tea party game.
Other books are great to see how Frances copes with her little sister, Gloria, and also to witness the cross gender friendship between Frances and Albert.
If you have a kid who loves to make up songs, this is the perfect book for him.
Reel Girl rates A Bargain for Frances ***HHH***
Madeline is one of the absolute best children’s books of all time. Madeline’s spirit is remarkable. She’s not afraid of mice or tigers or teetering on a bridge over the Seine. When she gets her appendix out, she proudly bares her scar. And when you read the book, you get to take a trip through the most beautiful places in Paris. You can’t beat that.
Reel Girl rates Madeline ***HHH***