Monday, January 31, 2011

Book of the Week: Wynken, Blynken and Nod

I've mentioned before that I've been lucky that my mother has kept many of my picture books which are now gradually relocating themselves here. Eugene Field's Wynken, Blynken and Nod has been one of these, which I often bring out when the boys are in need of a calming book.

Wynken, Blynken and Nod one night
Sailed off in a wooden shoe
Sailed on a river of crystal light
Into a sea of dew....

It's a dreamy verse about three boys sailing into the sky, and I love its rhythm and quiet tones. Our edition is illustrated by Barbara Cooney, with beautiful monochrome scenes which match the quietness of the verse.

The internet is a wonderful place, and in writing this I discovered a Denver link to Eugene Field, who was a journalist there for two years and managed to leave his house. The statue in the picture at the top, of the Fishermen Three, Wynken, Blynken and Nod, turns out to be located in Denver's Washington Park near Field's house. Of course I never saw it while we lived there.....

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

An insight into my former life?

I doubt am not sure whether I have any readers with a science background, and if I do, she they have probably already seen this Lady Gaga sendup from an Alzheimers Lab at a prestigious research institute in Texas, which has "gone viral". There are a lot of "in lab" jokes, but it's too good to not share.
(Warning- a few bad words)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The golden rules of childhood- according to the parents

A comment I made on Facebook, and some funny comments I received back led me to collate what I think are the only things about children you can count on- the golden rules.

1. The only time children sleep in is when an early start is required. Adapted by babies the "s/he never naps thing long" rule when parents base their day's activity around a certain wake-time.

2. A baby's first all night sleep will invariable coincide with the insomnia of another family member.

3. The penultimate five minute rule: groups of children play most happily and cooperatively five minutes before departure from the scene is required. Mothers have adapted this rule in the playdate setting to the "time for one more cuppa" rule.

4. Food always tastes better at someone else's house, or especially at childcare. Especially especially when the same recipe or product brand is used. Or an extra-large box of said product has been purchased.

5. The whiter the clothes, the darker the stain. Stain tenacity is also proportional to cost, parental fondness and intended use of the outfit.

6. The likelihood of a vomit is inversely proportional to the ease of cleaning the target surface. In a similar vein, toilet training accidents only happen on sofas and carpets, preferably those belonging to childless adults.

7. Telephones and doorbells are programmed to ring in the five minutes following a child settling to sleep. When of course they're not really asleep. Those annoying "sign up your credit card for a charity so I get my commission" doorknockers also sit on your front lawn waiting for this critical moment at which to strike.

8. Inappropriate words, body noises and non-verbal communication (read screeches) sound best at loud volume in churches (ideally funerals), restaurants and critical work functions when the babysitter falls through.

9. The likelihood of a contagious illness striking a home on a particular day is related to the urgency of the parents' work appointments, or desirability of their social commitments. Needless to say, children are always in the best of health to support parents through times of boring seminars, avoidable deadlines and OH&S reviews.

10. Spontaneous kisses and cute smiles always precede the discovery of a huge mess, either in the front hall or the last nappy in the house.

Am I right- are these the truths as we know them? Or have I forgotten the truest of the true?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Book of the Week: The Snail and the Whale

I’ve started this post several times on the screen, and more than that in my head, wondering what I should pick as my second Book of the Week (courtesy of Suburban Sonnet). After too much mind-changing I’ve finally settled on….


(Yes, I HAVE settled on it. No more changes now.)

We have all become big Julia Donaldson fans here. First there was The Gruffalo and Toddle Waddle. Thanks to his birthday and Christmas, Little Bro now has an expanded and very popular collection filed in the “D” section. (No, not really.) Big Bro is also a fan, but Little Bro is obsessed. And B and I don’t mind the books, so they keep getting read , and not lost under the couch. No don't admit to that..

All our favourite Julia Donaldsons have catching rhyming text, and a clever story, mostly starring humbler animals becoming unlikely heroes. The Snail and the Whale fits this exactly- a snail on a rock with an “itchy foot” hitches a ride on the tail of a helpful whale who shows him the world. Diaster strikes when the whale is beached (as I write that Little Bro's high pitched, dramatic "Oh no!" comes into my mind), and only the snail can save the day.

The illustrations by Axel Scheffler, who has illustrated many of the Julia Donaldson books, are bright and detailed, and it was no wonder that The Snail and the Whale repeatedly receives Little Bro’s highest honour- “read it again!”

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Learning about.... New York

Big Bro and I finished reading James and the Giant Peach last week, and with the finale of the peach's skewering on the Empire State Building and the seed ending up in Central Park as James' house. I suggested we learnt a bit more about New York this week. We managed a bit less than I had planned as Big Bro wasn't well in the middle of the week, but still learnt a bit- certainly enough for Little Bro-the-parrot to exclaim "wook, Empire State Building" as we walked through the (Melbourne) city.

To learn about New York landmarks we looked at photos B and I had taken on trips to New York, and watched a few YouTube clips, including:

This sight-seeing montage set to New York, New York - the boys enjoyed the limousines and black town cars.

The Wiggles' Central Park

New York State of Mind by Alicia Keys

We also watched clips of On the Town, which for whatever reason can't be embedded- but it did bring back memories of the D-Gen's Late Show spoof of the song (which is embeddable)

We also located some New York coloring pages and downloaded paper models of New York landmarks from a cool free site called Paper Toys- including the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building, the Statue of Liberty and the Brooklyn Bridge. These four structures, plus Central Park seem to be the top five recognizable New York landmarks.

We were going to make a few New York foods, but illness and time got in the way. In the end we used the leftover frankfurters from last week to make hot dogs in honour of the ubiquitous street hot dog carts, and didn't make Waldorf salad or a New York cheesecake, or have a bagel at the New York Bagelry. I got stuck with New York picture books- any recommendations?

It certainly wasn't an exhaustive study- which isn't the idea- but more a hope that in the future if Big Bro hears mention of New York he'll have an idea of what's there. B is off to New York later in the year so it will be a good test of what has stuck.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Book of the Week: A few good first chapter books

Suburban Sonnet has started a Book of the Week segment with the invitation to join in- which has inspired me to finally put fingers to keys and tell you about our recent favourites (ok, so it's Books of the Week... you'll survive)

Big Bro's ability to follow stories has steadily increased over the past year, meaning that we've been able to venture into longer picture books like the Tim series, The Velveteen Rabbit, fairy tales and Aesop's Fables, and also into chapter books. Moving into chapter books has been an exciting development for me, as I have lots of fond memories from my childhood as a voracious reader (I wish could say that I read as much these days...)

It started with Enid Blyton's The Wishing Chair, which I couldn't pass by when I spotted it at the local library. It was a good place to start as most of the stories are self-contained, the edition we were reading had pictures on most of the pages, and I think Big Bro enjoyed the general theme of a flying chair. They're pretty simple good-versus-evil stories, with the occasional unfortunate mishap thrown in. I wasn't quite sure how well it was being received until he made this origami wishing chair (either origami or wishing chair is a slightly steep claim, I admit).

Our next adventure was Joan Robinson's About Teddy Robinson. It's a collection of short stories about the adventures of a girl and her apparently-alive bear. They're nice mundane real-life adventures like going to a party or shopping, which children can relate to. Teddy Robinson was a big success, but unfortunately it seems to be out of print so I am still stalking eBay looking for copies that aren't priced for the "collectors' edition" market.

Next on the menu was a return to Enid Blyton- The Enchanted Wood, which is the first of the Faraway Tree series. Jo, Bessie and F(r)anny (the "r" is a post-1980s inclusion) and their friends Moon Face and Silkie have adventures in a magical tree that is a bridge to other lands. It's the same formula as The Wishing Chair, but often the adventures span several chapters. Big Bro initially lost track of some stories, but by the time we launched into books 2 and 3 he had the idea of the multi-chapter story, and was disappointed when it finished. There are heaps of other Enid Blytons I think he'd enjoy- and from my childhood collection and second hand bookshops I've accumulated a queue that includes Mr Pinkwhistle, Bimbo and Topsy and the various Tales... short stories. However, I've been trying to mix them up with other authors so we don't turn into exclusively Enid readers (which is tempting given how many of her books I loved!)

After The Enchanted Wood we tested the Winnie the Pooh water. The first couple of chapters were alright, but even I got a bit lost in the subtleties of the next chapters and it remains half read next to Big Bro's bed. A.A.Milne's children's poetry was much more of a success, and thanks to Lines and Squares Big Bro is "ever so careful to watch (his) feet" whenever he walks on a Melbourne street.

More successful have been a few "real world" classics- My Naughty Little Sister was very popular, as was Milly Molly Mandy. They're opposite ends of the slightly moralistic spectrum- I never realised as a child that My Naughty Little Sister uses the protagonist to illustrate what not to do, while Milly Molly Mandy is unbelievably virtuous- the closest to sin that she ever reached was to briefly consider ignoring the "trespassers will be prosecuted" sign that protected someone else's blackberries before realised that was wrong. That being said, MMM is a very sweet picture of 1920s village life- horses and carts, the occasional excursion to a market town.

By this point I was aware that our repertoire was completely based around books I read as a child, which even then weren't that modern, so to try to get Big Bro a few post-1950s literary experiences I ventured into The Hill of Content bookshop in the city. There I came across Lucy (subject of a Grateful Post) who reassured me that there haven't been a lot of post-1980s classics in the early-chapter book department. Between Lucy and responses to a Facebook enquiry I came up with a few more modern books to try: the Tashi series, which has gone down well so far, and Madame Pampelmousse and Aussie Nibbles which are on the to-read list.

I like the routine of reading a chapter book over several evenings, but part of me wonders what we've forgotten to read in the picture book department- and we're certainly including plenty of picture books in the mix. While I never seem to manage to read enough books to myself, I'm relieved that we have plenty of time to work through the children's section. What are- or were- your favourite first chapter books?

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Chinese Mother Theory

Maxabella beat me- and very eloquently- to raise a fascinating article, Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior, an excerpt from Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. It's about a style of parenting- and the Chinese-American author, Amy Chua, points out it isn't exclusively a Chinese style- whereby parents expect the utmost from their children. As I commented to Maxabella (excuse my laziness in the cut-and-paste department), I'm half-interested to read the book and I couldn't decide how much of the article was tongue-in-cheek. I agree with the "assume strength, not fragility" strategy, but there were points at which it went too far (Lulu's Piano Saga, for one). Pick your battles, and live your own life. Certainly children need parents' time invested in them, but maybe they also need to see their parents have a sense of perspective.

Postscript: there is a great response, also in the WSJ.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

This weekend I'm grateful for the basics

Feeling winded after a particularly punch-in-the-gut week, it's good to have a focus on the positive with my regular Maxabella-inspired Grateful Post.

With mention of deaths of friends and husbands in the blogosphere, and the shock of the Queensland floods, by Thursday I was definitely feeling grateful for the basics- a dry house and a loving and healthy circle of family and friends. On Friday I was grateful that the two personal stories of the Brishbane floods that I had been following ended- in both cases- about 2cm on the side of relief. One of the stories was via The House That A-M Built- I felt terrible on Friday to be checking a blog that is supposed to be about building beautiful homes, expecting mention of the destruction of a home. It was a little ray of sunshine through a dark cloud to read about a near miss.

I'm also grateful for 24 Hour Viruses- not that seeing your child go from healthy to listless and a 40 degree fever in 2 hours is anything good, but to see him pull out as suddenly the next day is something to be grateful for. I just don't know how parents of chronically ill children cope.

Coming up next week (whether I blog about them or not is another matter): the end if a career-era and a childcare era, the attack if the mystery seeds, how rockets make fire, and perhaps even a ripe tomato. And Lego Brickventures- bring it on!!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Geeky/cool- electronic clothes, jet lagged mosquitos and why blogging helps

One of my favourite things about my current job is that I'm expected to read scientific journals. There are a lot of tedious technical articles (and more than enough crappy ones) but there are a few diamonds in the rough, which I enjoy finding. More often than not, they're unrelated to my field, so reading them is a bit of an indulgence, but I tell myself that I'm expected to have a broad general knowledge. (Too bad blogging isn't part of my job description...)

This week's crop of interesting stories was especially bountiful, and worthy of sharing. (I think!) They're all from, or mentioned in, the highly competitive- and thus high-powered and very reputable- journals Science and Nature, which unfortunately require a paid subscription for the full-text for most articles. (And no, it wasn't me who paid. It's called a fringe benefit, 'kay?)

This week's cool stories
1. Jet-lag protects mice from malaria (free text): researchers in Edinburgh had two groups of mice, one living a "day shift"- with lights on during the day- and the others living a "night shift", with lights on during the night, and off during the day (so opposite to the day shift mice). The mice on either shift were infected with the malaria parasite Plasmodium, and their infected blood was transferred to other mice to transmit the malaria parasite to them (sort-of like a mosquito usually does). Parasites transferred out of one mouse into another of the opposite shift (so day-shift to night-shift or vice versa) didn't grow as quickly as those that stayed on the same shift. For a parasite that lives inside a mouse and can't see, it's pretty nifty! Whatever that means for humans- and whether people working night-shifts in malaria-affected countries are protected from malaria- is a whole new question.

2. Could electronic clothes be a reality? This story is way out of my league, but the outcome is way cool- scientists in Texas have used teeny-weeny pipes of carbon- "nanotubes"- to make teeny-weeny flexible threads or yarns that can carry electrically conductive materials. They can tie them in a knot, plait them, sew with them or weave them- and show how they can make a teeny-weeny thread-like battery. It's tempting to imagine a whole industry of electronics built into clothes- neon lights, body odour sensors and alarmed toilet-training undies, but to be fair I suspect the developers have they eyes firmly set on the bright lights of highly-technical applications that we'll never see. I'll hedge my optimistic bets on a foldable fabric iPad. But not too soon...

3. Why writing (hence blogging) helps us: something to store in my memory bank for about 14 years from now- that there is research showing that if students who are about to take a high-pressure exam are told to write about their anxieties before they sit the exam, they do better than students who didn't do the pre-exam debrief. "Simply writing about one's worries before a high-stakes exam can boost test scores". Expect more steam to be let off by this blogger.

Am I just a geek, or are any of those ideas cool?

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Learning about... The New Year

Big Bro and I launched into the New Year full of enthusiasm for a new project, perhaps even a new resolution: to learn about something each week. The idea for this came from Little Garden Helpers' "Teach Your Toddler" series, where the Little Garden Helpers spent six weeks of their summer focussed on a different garden creepy-crawly. I haven't decided whether ours will be a summer activity or last longer- Big Bro starts at his new pre-school in February, so if he seems to be full to the brim with learning from there, we will slacken off at home. But I hope not- we've already had lots of ideas of things we'd like to immerse ourselves in for a week, including:

- caterpillars
- slaters
- Australia Day, Chinese New Year, St Patrick's Day, and other festivals/holidays when possible (takes up about half the weeks!)
- New York
- how houses are built
- sharks, or more specifically, "why sharks don't have bones" (I'll stick with the broader topic I think!)

This week I suggested we learn about the New Year. It's nothing fancy, and mostly just comes from the internet, but by the end of the week we learnt:
- this year is 2011, so is (about) two thousand and eleven years after the time we think Jesus was born (the Christmas Story stuck this year)
- we say the New Year starts on the first of January, but other people around the world think it starts at different times, like Chinese New Year, or the start of Spring
- there are lots of ways to celebrate the New Year, including by saying "happy new year", with fireworks, and singing Auld Lang Syne (Little Bro thought this was the worst song ever!). Our family celebrates by having lunch with Auntie R.
- lots of people like to make New Year's Resolutions to say things they'd like to learn or do in the coming year. Big Bro didn't quite get this, but he did take much more to the idea that the New Year is a time that we can say "bye" to the bad things that happened- or we did- in the old year. There were lots of descriptions of traditions to do with farewelling the previous year with a fire, which I condensed for simplicity into us burning a small twig of our Christmas tree to "say bye to all the bad things from 2010". Big Bro took this to heart, and since then has, several times, either told me/Little Bro that we can't be crabby/rough (respectively, I point out!!) because we said bye to those bad traits over the fire.
- there are lots of New Year food traditions. We made Sesame-Honey cookies, where the sweetness symbolises the good things of the year to come, and the seeds symbolise fecundity, growth and all that (not fertility in our family, thanks!!) and were going to make Nigella's lentil and sausage soup until the weather turned hot, and we substituted pasta with pea and corn (fecundity and all that) and chopped up sausages (which look like coins). We also ate "the twelve grapes of luck" for the coming year (not at midnight on New Year's Eve), though Little Bro spat out several of his grapes, and I'm wondering what that symbolises.....

Incidentally, did you know that 2011 is the UN Year of Forests? I didn't until pre-school sent Big Bro a letter telling him to bring a photo of his favourite tree on the first day. Bless his little heart- he's decided his favourite trees are the silver birches he helped us plant. Eco-credits to us?! I see 2012 is the UN Year of Cooperatives- I wonder what that class will be invited to bring? $20 to invest in the class pyramid scheme?

This weekend I'm grateful for.... small milestones, and their makers!

This week's Maxabella-inspired Grateful Post, and it starts with an Maxabella-inspired phenomenon: I'm grateful for new followers after this lovely plug from the lovely Maxabella. Hello to all of you- it was a thrill to suddenly see my followers number jump, and enough to jolt me out of my summer torpor!

I'm also grateful for cool changes- to feel the temperature drop from 34 to 24 degrees in less than an hour this afternoon was a relief! Phew... now we just need some rain to top up the tanks.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Everybody needs good neighbours

I'm not a fan of the soapie, but I am a big fan of neighbours. I love our house and garden, but what money couldn't buy was landing in an altogether friendly pocket of suburbia. As well as lovely adults, there is a bunch of kids around our boys' ages with whom I'm looking forward to them growing up. And it's the sort of street, without us being overly chummy and all over each other, that there's no shame in asking a neighbour to collect your mail or feed the chooks.

The patriarch of the block is an elderly Sicilian gentleman (any lesser descriptor wouldn't be appropriate) who has been in the neighborhood for years (and spread his loquat seeds) who knows everything there is about everything. He's our real estate sales reporter, neighborhood watch and voluntary handyman, sometimes to the point of embarrassment: he ended up showing up, goods in hand, to fix our fence, then wouldn't accept a bottle of wine (he makes his own), or a cake (no good for his cholesterol).

Our next door neighbours were away for a few days after Christmas and asked us to put their bins out, and help ourselves to their ripe tomatoes. Good deal... until their bins migrated to the street without our input. Ok, we were too slow. Then, early the next morning as the boys and I waved to the garbage truck we caught a glimpse of the Sicilian rocket whiz out his gate in the truck's wake and return our neighbours' bins to their yard, still warm from the garbage truck's exhaust. With a small splutter I wondered, who needs good neighbors when you've got the Super Neighbour?

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

A couple of book memes

Holidays for me used to mean time to read. School holidays were my time for indulgent reads, like starting The Famous Five at book number one, and aiming for book 21. These days my hopes are a lot more sedate- like "read an entire book"- but I like to imagine that one day holidays will again be "time to read".

I'm not really one for memes, but these two came up in Facebook and I felt enthused about responding (apologies to those for whom I'm double dipping!)

Fifteen Authors in Fifteen minutes

Don't take too long to think about it. Fifteen authors (poets included) who've influenced you and that will always stick with you. List the first fifteen you can recall in no more than fifteen minutes.

1 Enid Blyton (anyone want to discuss the intricate plot details of the Famous Five? I am still excited to find an original Blyton I hadn't read- though not the crummy spin-offs!)

2 Alexander McCall Smith (I live from one Scotland Street instalment to the next)

3 Jane Austen

4 Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible, Animal Vegetable Miracle)

5 Neil Campbell (Biology)

6 Nigella Lawson

7 Vikram Seth (I could read all 1000 pages of A Suitable Boy any day)

8 Bill Bryson (lots are good, but Made in America especially)

9 Cynthia Voigt

10 Thomas Hardy

11 Lewis Carrol (esp the Jabberwocky, Hit your baby when he sneezes)

12 DH Lawrence (Snake)

13 Samuel Shem (The House of God- B said "read this and you'll understand what I've been through")

14 Laura Ingals Wilder

15 Three way tie between CS Lewis or EB White or JK Rowling... not convinced which should be here and I am sure I have forgotten someone else!!!)

100 Books

Have you read more than 6 of these books? The BBC believes most people will have read only 6 of the 100 books listed here. (I add that if you like Thomas Hardy, Charles Dickens and/or Jane Austen you get immediate bonus points as they're represented at a high frequency.)

I've bolded the books I've read in their entirety, and italicized the ones I started but didn't finish, or read an excerpt.

1. Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen

2 The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien

3 Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte

4 Harry Potter series – JK Rowling (all)

5 To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee

6 The Bible

7 Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte

8 Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell

9 His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman

10 Great Expectations – Charles Dickens

11 Little Women – Louisa M Alcott

12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy

13 Catch 22 – Joseph Heller

14 Complete Works of Shakespeare

15 Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier

16 The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien

17 Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks

18 Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger

19 The Time Traveller’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger

20 Middlemarch – George Eliot

21 Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell

22 The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald

23 Bleak House – Charles Dickens

24 War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy

25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams

26 Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh

27 Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky

28 Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck

29 Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll

30 The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame

31 Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy

32 David Copperfield – Charles Dickens

33 Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis

34 Emma – Jane Austen

35 Persuasion – Jane Austen

36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – CS Lewis

37 The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini

38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Berniere

39 Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden

40 Winnie the Pooh – AA Milne

41 Animal Farm – George Orwell

42 The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown

43 One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez

44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney – John Irving

45 The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins

46 Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery

47 Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy

48 The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood

49 Lord of the Flies – William Golding

50 Atonement – Ian McEwan

51 Life of Pi – Yann Martel

52 Dune – Frank Herbert

53 Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons

54 Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen

55 A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth

56 The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon

57 A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens

58 Brave New World – Aldous Huxley

59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon

60 Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez

61 Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck

62 Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov

63 The Secret History – Donna Tartt

64 Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold

65 Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas

66 On The Road – Jack Kerouac

67 Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy

68 Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding

69 Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie

70 Moby Dick – Herman Melville

71 Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens

72 Dracula – Bram Stoker

73 The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett

74 Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson

75 Ulysses – James Joyce

76 The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath

77 Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome

78 Germinal – Emile Zola

79 Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray

80 Possession – AS Byatt

81 A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens

82 Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell

83 The Color Purple – Alice Walker

84 The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro

85 Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert

86 A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry

87 Charlotte’s Web – EB White

88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom

89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

90 The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton (and just read them all to Big Bro!)

91 Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad

92 The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery

93 The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks

94 Watership Down – Richard Adams

95 A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole

96 A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute

97 The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas

98 Hamlet – William Shakespeare

99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl

100 Les Miserables – Victor Hugo

I'm at a bit of a loss to single out particular books- lots of great ones in the list, and lots that I wish I'd read!

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