Favourite Children's Books - Vince Ditrich's Picks

Children's books these days are divided into so many genres and categories that it almost seems funny to recommend, for instance, The Lord of the Rings, to a youngster. Yet I was 10 when I first read that and The Hobbit. Given the title of this blog, for one, it's arguably the book that touched me as a child, and I've reread it every year since then. But there are so many other authors that I'd also list as my favourites, which I won't repeat here; we've had discussions on this topic before on the Compuserve Books and Writers Forum, last year and the year before, as well as a discussion on what we learned from kids' books.

Which book touched you that you still remember? Was it a series, a specific genre, or a single story?

Many of the authors that have made a difference to me are Canadian, and sometimes I wonder if I would have discovered them at all if I'd grown up elsewhere. A number of authors and readers responded to the Compuserve thread, including Canadian authors (such as Marsha Skrypuch!), and then I started wondering, what about Canadian musicians?

And that's what led me to this series of posts (as detailed in the introductory post below).

The first featured picks come from Vince Ditrich, drummer and manager of Spirit of the West, who chose a few, being a reader after my own heart and unable to pick just one (cover photos and links inserted by me):

"1) I recall just loving ‘The Mad Scientist’s Club’ by Bertrand Brinley. I haven’t laid eyes on it since elementary school, but I know I checked it out of the library about a dozen times. Mad science, all your best friends, pranks, and a clubhouse…Could anything be better (before puberty and beer)?

2) Lost in the Barrens / Curse of the Viking Grave / The Dog Who Wouldn’t Be – Well, pretty well anything by Farley Mowat, but these ones really rattled my cage. My first read of ‘Lost in the Barrens’ was a high point in my life... I think I stayed up till about 4 in the morning on a school night to finish it off. Man, I was THERE with Jamie and Awasin, a fly on the wall. Mutt the dog, on the other hand, was just plain funny and Mowat’s style had a permanent effect and influence on my own writing.

3) Citizen of the Galaxy / Starman Jones / Have Spacesuit, Will Travel – Robert Heinlein. I am not personally aware of anything that can touch these three ‘cadet’ books as far as Sci-Fi for younger people is concerned. I continue to re-read these periodically as they give me such pleasure and powerful doses of nostalgia. Heinlein was at the top of his game here, and the stories and characterizations are flawless. His skill blending science, drama, narrative, dialogue, theory and adventure is unmatched. Pure catnip.

4) Carrying the Fire – Michael Collins – Autobiography of Apollo 11 crewmember. Far and away the best astronaut book and honestly one of the most balanced and best written autobiographies I have read. It was a bit over my head when I first tackled it at age 11, but I re-read many times and learned a great deal about history, the vicissitudes of life, and how to write with excellence from this really outstanding book.

5) Honorable mention – Yertle the Turtle – Dr Seuss.
I think everybody has read it. It is worthy of everyone reading it, and then they should read it to their kids."

I agree :-)


Aubrie said…
I had all the Doctor Suess books growing up. But my all time favorite was "The secret of the Unicorn Queen" series. I loved those books :)
Deniz Bevan said…
Ooh, I haven't read those! Actually, of the five authors above, I've only read Seuss and Mowat. I'm really looking forward to reading Brinley soon; I can't believe I'd never heard of him!

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