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A Fuse #8 Production
Inside A Fuse #8 Production

Pull Out the Hankies. What Didn’t Make the List. #101-120

You’re going to see some repeats on today’s list from yesterday. If yesterday was about the odd books that didn’t make it onto the Top 100, today is about the books that almost did. Could have made it by an inch. Prepare to bawl, mein publikum. Here we go:

#101 Tom’s Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce (1958) (#2)(#4)(#4)(#5)(#6)(#8)(#9) – 39 points Again, like The Secret Garden, full of the type of “secret” adventure that will capture generations. – Janice E. Bojda, Head of Children’s Services, Evanston Public Library Summer, time travel and magic infuse this classic children’s fantasy. I loved this book as a child, and the story stayed with me for decades. Even more delightful, this is one of the books where the magic translated to a new generation- my daughter loved it as much as I did. This is a bit haunting- not quite as light hearted as some of my other picks- that depth? melancholy? mystery? may be why it landed so high on my list. – Christine Sealock Kelly Just thinking about Tom running into Hattie’s arms at the end of the book gives me goosebumps – best time-slip fantasy ever! – Kathy Jarombek, Head of Youth Services, Perrot Memorial Library, Old Greenwich, CT Wonderfully unlovable characters who grow on you with every page. – Sallie Wolf What’s a curious boy to do when the clock in the hall strikes thirteen? Why investigate, of course! Tom goes to the first floor and opens the back door, only to find himself faced with a garden, and not the alleyway that exists there by day. In this new world Tom meets a girl names Hattie, but what’s he to do when faces leaving the home that houses the entry to this other world? – Dr. Patricia M. Stohr-Hunt, Chair, Education Department, University of Richmond

#102 The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis (1955) (#1)(#2)(#5)(#5)(#6)(#9)(#10) – 38 points My all-time favorite Chapter One.- Michele Gawenka

#103 Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson (1883) (#1)(#1)(#3)(#6)(#7)(#10) – 38 points My favorite adventure book as a boy which I re-read each year for many years. – David Ziegler The greatest pirate story ever written, action, adventure, exotic locales, vivid characters, and a true coming-of-age tale that doesn’t wrap things up nicely and neatly (young Hawkins has nightmares about it afterwards) What more could you want? – Carl Schwanke, Imaginon/Spangler Children’s Library, Charlotte, NC

#104 There’s a Boy in the Girls’ Bathroom by Louis Sachar (1987) (#3)(#3)(#3)(#4)(#6)(#9) – 38 points Remains one of the funniest books I have ever read. – Karen Halpenny, Book Editor, Sesame Street Events Co-Chair

#105 Dealing with Dragons (The Enchanted Forest Chronicles, Book 1) by Patricia C. Wrede (1990) (#3)(#3)(#4)(#4)(#5)(#10) – 37 points A feminist fairy tale with a very smart young princess and an unusual dragon. – Kaethe Douglas The first in Patricia C. Wrede’s Enchanted Forest chronicles, this classic fantasy stands fairy tale conventions and stereotypes on their heads while producing an exciting, hilarious, and delightful story. Jennifer Wharton, Youth Services Librarian, Matheson Memorial Library The heroine is not only a kick-ass adventurer, she has a biting wit to boot. My friend Maggie swears she’s going to name her first-born “Cimorene.” – Katherine Harrison, Editorial Assistant, Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers

#106 Redwall by Brian Jacques (1986) (#1)(#3)(#7)(#7)(#7)(#8)(#9)(#10) – 36 points I was surprised to discover on a recent trip to the book store that there are still new titles coming out in this series! I stopped reading after Marlfox, and by then I’d learned the plot patterns pretty well, but the first four or five titles are fantastic. I love Mattias’ quest to find Martin’s sword. Jacques’ world creation is especially complete and consistent, I think, and all the little quirks of the different species (I love the moles’ accents) are wonderful. And the food! I could probably die happy after eating a Redwallian feast. – Emily Calkins Charyk For best descriptive writing (did you know he wrote for blind students?) – K. Zottl, Gr.3/4, Cathcart Blvd. Public School, Sarnia, ON

#107 Clementine by Sara Pennypacker (2006) (#3)(#4)(#5)(#6)(#7)(#9)(#9)(#10) – 35 points The Ramona Quimby of this generation. I LOVE Frazee’s illustrations, and the story of a girl who “does” pay attention, just not to the things her teacher thinks she should is great. I read the first chapter to all my third grade classes and these books are also frequent fliers off my shelves! – Erin Hibshman, Librarian, Rheems and Fairview Elementary, Elizabethtown Area School District One of the things I love about my job as a school librarian is that no day is ever boring. The story reminds me so much of some of the kids I teach. Their intentions are good but the results can be disastrous. Another feel, good, laugh out loud book, we can never have too many of those. – Heidi Grange, School Library Media Teacher, Summit Elementary, Smithfield, UT Rambunctious and precocious, Clementine is also incredibly generous. What I love best about this series is that though she gets into scrapes, a) they come from a place of good intentions, and b) her parents understand her – they love her and care about her and so when she gets into trouble, they are there to help her figure it out. – Rebecca Fabian, Children’s Department Manager, Odyssey Bookshop, South Hadley, MA Please Lord, Grant me the grace and understanding of Clementine’s parents. – Stephanie Howell, Lower School Librarian, Carolina Day School, Asheville, NC

#108 A Cricket in Times Square by George Selden (1960) (#3)(#5)(#6)(#7)(#7)(#8)(#8)(#9) – 35 points Genius characters, not cliched, even the ones that verge on stereotypes.- Schuyler Hooke Stands-the-test-of time, magic happens, great illustrations!- Kate Colquitt, Teen Services Librarian, The Greenburgh Public Library, Elmsford, NY Please let this make the top 100! This book needs a renaissance!Dreadful Penny The most charming book about a bug ever. – Katie Fee, Associate Marketing Manager, Bloomsbury Children’s Books and Walker Books for Young Readers

#109 Anastasia Krupnik by Lois Lowry (1979) (#2)(#3)(#3)(#6)(#8)(#10)(#10) – 35 points I can not tell you how often I wished Anastasia was my real-life friend, that my mom illustrated books, or that my best friend had a pair of jeans that were so filthy they stood on their own in the closet.Jenn Bertman This was the book that introduced me to Anastasia, a smart girl who was quirky and not like every other girl out there. While Lowry’s other books are great, this was a book that I loved re-reading (and then made my own notebook a la Anastasia!) – Erin Hibshman, Librarian, Rheems and Fairview Elementary, Elizabethtown Area School District I loved Anastasia because she was a normal girl with normal problems (glasses, acne, cool-but-embarrassing parents, annoying little brothers, etc). She was also smart and funny, and I envied her hiking boots with red laces (and later her tower bedroom).- Jennifer Sauls

#110 Danny the Champion of the World by Roald Dahl (1975) (#1)(#4)(#4)(#7)(#7)(#8) – 35 points Life in a gypsy caravan! – Stephanie Howell, Lower School Librarian, Carolina Day School, Asheville, NC Even though all of Roald Dahl’s books have a special spot on my bookshelves, this is my favorite. It evoked the clearest, simplest feeling of love by a child for a parent that any book has ever done. – Maggi Idzikowski,Media Specialist, Allen Elementary School, Ann Arbor MI Made me wish I lived in a cozy gypsy caravan and poached peasants. So illegal and subversive, still can’t believe Dahl got away with it.- Jennifer Hubert Swan, Little Red School House, New York, NY I know most people will probably go for James or Charlie, but I just love Danny and his dad. The scene with the drunk pheasants is one of the most hilarious in children’s fiction. – Sarah Flowers I LOVE this book. Suspense that just keeps you on the edge of your seat, biting your nails. Give this to any middle school boy or girl, I just dare you. – Susan Eley, Hillside School Librarian, Mt Laurel, NJ

#111 The House With a Clock In Its Walls by John Bellairs (1973) (#1)(#1)(#4)(#7)(#7) – 35 points John Bellairs writes so sensitively and perceptively about the mundane trials of childhood, and then turns on a dime and writes some of the most genuinely frightening scenes in middle grade literature.- Rachael Vilmar My favorite author as a kid was John Bellairs, and whenever I meet someone that also read his books as a kid, I know I’ve found a kindred spirit. When I read Harry Potter, it reminded me of The House with a Clock in its Walls, where Lewis discovers that he comes from a wizarding family and dabbles in magic himself, with some disturbing results. This book will always be with me, and I can’t wait to introduce it to my daughter when the time is right. – Amy (Media Macaroni)

#112 Five Children and It by E. Nesbit (1902) (#1)(#2)(#2)(#6)(#10) – 34 points A fantasy classic by one of the first authors to place the magic in the everyday world. – Greg Holch I want to say The Enchanted Castle, but I think this will get more votes. I love this old, but still delightful book. After all these years it is funny, with believable sibling relationships. This and Alice in Wonderland are the real ancestors of my favorite genre the funny fantasy novel.- Clarissa Cooke

#113 Mrs. Piggle Wiggle by Betty MacDonald (1947) (#1)(#3)(#6)(#7)(#9)(#10)(#10)(#10) – 32 points Betty MacDonald’s Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle books, all of them. (I remember the first two BEFORE the Hilary Knight illustrations). I actually was asked to leave the school library once in 4th grade because I was laughing so hard. (As I was usually an almost disgustingly well-behaved kid, this was unusual…) I reread them a few years ago and still giggle. The best ones are the ones that rely on natural processes for the “cure”, such as the Fighter-Quarrelers Cure and the Selfishness Cure, not the ones with magic powders and stuff. They get the ideas across without laying on the morality with a trowel. – Freda Bluestone Birnbaum

#114 Fablehaven by Brandon Mull (2006) (#2)(#3)(#4)(#6)(#8) – 32 points This is the kind of book that you never want to put down. The great writing allows me to disappear into the story until the end when I re-emerge with a sigh. The kind of book I can stay up all night reading!- Heidi Grange, School Library Media Teacher, Summit Elementary, Smithfield, UT

#115 Missing May by Cynthia Rylant (#2)(#4)(#4)(#5)(#8) – 32 points Love it for the first sentence. Love it just as much for the last. Nobody else writes like Rylant.– Linda Urban

#116 Jennifer Hecate Macbeth William McKinley and Me, Elizabeth by E.L. Konigsburg (1967) (#1)(#3)(#3)(#5)- 32 points Not her most famous, but great fun and lovely. Another one I’ve read to shreds. The View from Saturdays and The Outcasts of 19 Schuyler Place were also contenders for this list, but Jennifer, Hecate is the one I reread over and over, so it wins the spot. – Lisa Gordis, Barnard College

#117 The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner (1924) (#2)(#3)(#7)(#8)(#8)(#10)(#10)(#10)(#10) – 31 points The first book was the best because the kids had the most independence and ingenuity. The drivel currently being pushed out as the continuing series makes me nauseous. I knew vampires had hit super saturation in children’s literature when there was a Boxcar Children book about it. I’m waiting for the angels book. – Abigail Goben This made me want to live in a boxcar – I wonder if it’s the first survival book for children.– Paige Ysteboe

#118 A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula LeGuin (1968) (#2)(#2)(#7)(#7)(#9)(#9)(#10) – 31 points The story of a young wizard coming of age, but told in spare language with no camp or easy laughs and a sense of responsibility for the power one wields; LeGuin creates a rich world that these men of few words inhabit and sense of the wonders that travel brings – Amy Farrier the whole series was great but [my daughter] loved this best – the wild beauty of it – a book to read over and over all through one’s life. – Sarah Haliwell

#119 The Thirteen Clocks by James Thurber (1950) (#1)(#2)(#4)(#6) – 31 points Back off, Princess Bride. This here’s probably the original “fractured fairy tale.” The story includes an evil Duke who sports both a glass eye, an eye patch, and a sword cane; man-eating geese; a prince-disguised-as-a-minstrel (or is it the other way ’round?); the magic roses of Princess Saralinda; and the lovable Golux with his “indescribable hat.” Add to that a heaping helping of classic Thurberean asides (“I sent eleven guards to kill the prince.” “But the prince is as strong as ten men.” “So that means there will be one left to finish him off!”) and you can easily see why Neil Gaiman has declared it to be “probably the best book in the world.”– Brooke Shirts (Casa Camisas)

#120 The Moffats by Eleanor Estes (1941) (#2)(#2)(#3)(#6) – 31 points

About Elizabeth Bird

Elizabeth Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.


  1. David Ziegler says

    Some mighty fine, fun books here. I’m very glad to see TI (of course), The House with a Clock in its Walls, Redwall, Danny Chanpion of the World (one of my favorite Dahl’s), Missing May, Cricket in Times Square and Anastasia Krupnik. Wish they’d scored higher, but happy to see them. A few more to add to my read or re-read list, too.

  2. The Magician’s Nephew will always be my favorite Narnia book, even though I started the series with The Horse and His Boy. I was young back then, too young to go to a library by myself, and sometimes, my father would select books for me on his own. Perhaps he did not know that the series was supposed to be started with the Lion book, perhaps he was in a hurry. For whatever the reason, he brought me The Horse and His Boy one day.

    I started the book reluctantly, because the cover looked horrible and because it is the way of growing children to be suspicious of their parent’s choices.

    I did not like it that much.

    Then I read Magician’s Nephew and I was blown away.

    I do not do the book justice though. Let me correct that.

    For many of us, there is one book that shows us the joys of reading (and thus, leads us to comment in a blog of this nature, this late in the night) Magician’s Nephew was that book for me. And for that, my thanks to CS Lewis. Phillip Pullman can’t take that away from me, whatever he may say about Narnia.

    And I am glad to see some E Nesbit. Finally!
    She should be much higher in the list, IMHO.

    Still no sign of Diana Wynne Jones. Who would have thought..

  3. Judith Van Alstyne says

    But where is The Animal Family by Randell Jarrell? *sigh* Has anyone else read this marvelous, magical book? To read it is to love it, I’m convinced.

    At least The 13 Clocks and The Moffats finally appeared. I’m slightly mollified. (Now, where is that hankie?)

  4. Hellllo Clementine.

    If I had been born with red hair and adorable, you wouldn’t be albe to tell up apart.

  5. Curse you Brooke Shirts! Now my to-read list just went up by one more

  6. Betsy,

    Thanks for sharing the also rans. I hadn’t thought about Mrs. Piggle Wiggle in literally decades. You list gives us all the opportunity to reflect on our fond childhood reading memories.


  7. Even as we crept closer to the top 10, I kept hoping House With a Clock in Its Walls would make the list, wondering if there were enough people who love it as much as I do. It’s still #1 in my book.

  8. Chris in NY says

    These are all such classic, great reads, I think you should just amend the original list and show these as an addendum for future readers of the compilation. Would not want folks to miss the chance of finding out about these great books.

  9. Rachael V. says

    Good old House. I can thank John Bellairs for the fact that I think of my husband as “Weird Beard.” Maybe one day I’ll start wearing purple and go live next door.

  10. Oh, here are all my books! I wondered…

  11. More great books. Clearly, a list of 100 is not enough.

  12. The Boxcar Children taught me one of life’s most important lessons: I can always keep my milk cold behind a waterfall.

    I’m sorry that didn’t make it. And The Hundred Dresses…and Redwall…and Danny the Champion of the World…and Mrs. Piggle Wiggle… Oh, well, I love them all.

  13. Happy sigh. This is a great list. So glad especially to see Magician’s Nephew here, and Five Children and It (there’s the Nesbit!) and The Moffats (there’s the Estes!).

    And funny…I just yesterday thought of Clementine and wondered if it might have garnered any votes.

  14. Kara Dean says

    I almost voted for Anastasia Krupnik! My missing points might have been the difference maker. Clearly I should have thrown my support behind this book and not Danny Dunn. Sorry AK!

  15. Connie Rockman says

    Love the way all these classic books just keep giving.

    When my mother read Mrs. Piggle Wiggle aloud to us all those years ago, the “Thought-you-saiders” cure was our favorite and always had us rolling on the floor laughing … Now that she is 99 and still refuses to consider a hearing aid, Thought-you-said-itis has taken on a whole new meaning in our family.

    Never knew the joys of Redwall until I listened to the full cast audiobook – Oh my, what a delicious treat!

    Tom’s Midnight Garden definitely deserves a renaissance – it’s the male “Secret Garden” and should be put into the hands of every ten-year-old.

  16. Jenny Schwartzberg says

    Clearly I should have put The Thirteen Clocks on my list. Kicking myself for not doing so. I loved many of these books but Thirteen Clocks is so special! Now for the complete list, please. Most of the books on my list would be on that one!

  17. Matthew Kirby says

    There’s my Ursula K. Le Guin. I wondered…

    Sarah Haliwell was right – truly a book to revisit throughout one’s life.

  18. RM1(SS) (ret) says

    Having only gotten three of my original top ten into the Top 100, I now have a fourth in the Top 120 (#112). Yippee! 8)

    I’ve only read 12 of these 20, but I’ve at least heard of most of the others.

    Once again, many, many thanks, Betsy! Looking forward to next year’s Top 100 Children’s Series (Judy Bolton! Trixie Belden!), or Top 100 Children’s Authors (Arthur Ransome!), or whatever you decide to do.

  19. I, too, am looking forward to next year…genres might make an interesting series of polls…mystery, fantasy, etc. That’s what you get for doing such a great job, Betsy….people clamoring for more!

    Several of my most beloved books turned up today (Dealing With Dragons!!), but I’m also surprised not to see Diana Wynne Jones yet.

    Come to think of it, with the glaring exception of Harry Potter, most of the non-U.S. titles that have made the 120 have been somewhat older. No sign of Margaret Mahy (The Changeover, The Haunting), Terry Pratchett (the Tiffany Aching series, Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents), Garth Nix (Keys to the Kingdom, Seventh Tower series).

  20. Els Kushner says

    Oh, gah, should’ve thrown a vote to Dealing with Dragons. And Clementine! And, and… *sigh* oh, well. I, too, love them all.

    And Judith, I also love “The Animal Family.” Borrowed my cousin’s copy when I was a kid and didn’t want to give it back, so she gave me a copy of My Very Own for a birthday. I still have it.

  21. Oh, never did I regret not voting in time as much as I did when seeing “Dealing with Dragons” just miss the cut. This is the book I wave in the face of all girls between the ages of 8 and 14. Wrede is a craftswoman; she truly has never written a bad book!

  22. Count me in as another who’s shocked by Diana Wynne Jones’ absence from this whole endeavor! Oh well; she takes up most of the space on my bookshelves.

    So glad to see Dealing with Dragons, The 13 Clocks, Anastasia Krupnik, and The House with the Clock in its Walls here, though–those are some of my all-time favorites.

  23. My Boaz's Ruth says

    Because of this list I read _Strawberry Hill_ by Mary Ann Hoberman and LOVED it. It’s an easy read that is still a GOOD book. But it is geared toward girls 🙁 And the nephew I am buying for is a Boy. Any recommendations for which of these books would fit a boy at a similar level? Tom’s Midnight Garden (I’ve got this on reserve at the library to try out) Anything else to recommend?

  24. Karenlibrarian says

    My summer reading list: all the books from the 120 I haven’t read. Time to catch up on all the ones I’ve missed!

  25. rockinlibrarian says

    Oh there! Magician’s Nephew! I KNEW there must have been SOME vote-splitting on Narnia! Still not enough to have made my predictions right about how high (or not high) LWW would show up. And, if I had voted for Narnia, it would have been Dawn Treader, so I’m curious how many (if any) votes THAT one got now too…

    And speaking of vote-splitting and books-I-would-have-voted-for-if-I-could-vote-for-three-times-as-many-books, all you mourning the lack of Diana Wynne Jones– it is sad she’s not there, but not really that surprising, mathematically, because WHICH of her books would it be? I had about five on my Possibilities List when I started compiling my votes, and I don’t know WHICH I would have chosen. For enough people to agree on ONE title for it to make the list? Even tougher.

    Anytime someone mentions Clementine I always think it’s a picture book possibly about an animal, and I always need to be reminded that I’m WRONG. So I should probably read it, as this is obviously a gap in my Librarian-knowledge.

  26. RM1(SS), am I a bad person if my first thought on reading your comment was, “hey, someone had even fewer of their votes make the list than I did!”? Oh, schadenfreude.

  27. Jean Reidy says

    Thanks for the nod to Anastasia Krupnik, Clementine and Mrs. Piggle Wiggle. I sorely missed them on the list.

  28. RM1(SS) (ret) says

    There’s a good question, Betsy – did anyone get fewer votes onto the final list? 8)

    I like the idea of doing a Top 100 Children’s Mysteries (Judy and Trixie again, and Djuna) or Top 100 Children’s Animal Stories (The Duck-Footed Hound, Clarence the TV Dog) list, too. We should be able to keep you busy here every year right up until 2019, when you do the 10-years-later revision of the Top 100 Picture Books. 8)

  29. Brooke Shirts says

    Holy Hannah — when The 13 Clocks didn’t make the top 100, I assumed it was because I was the only person who voted for it. I’m very happy to see that I wasn’t alone!

  30. But where’s The Whipping Boy?

  31. janeyolen says

    So that’s where a lot of my votes went!


  32. The name “Tom’s Midnight Garden” doesn’t ring a bell, but reading the description I started wondering…is this that elusive book that I read as a kid and have never been able to find again? I’m putting a copy on hold to find out. Ooh, I can’t wait!

  33. Oh my gosh, I am so happy that I am not the only one who voted for Jennifer, Hecate, Macbeth, William McKinley, and Me, Elizabeth!!! I love that book to pieces. And the Boxcar Children, too. I am still so surprised that it wasn’t much, much higher on the list. The image of Benny and his pink cup is forever imprinted on my brain.

  34. In response to rockinlibrarian, I’m wondering if Betsy will tell us which *author* got the most votes in total. (Or maybe top five authors.) Maybe this has already been mentioned, but I would be interested.

  35. Boy, that’s a good question. Check out tomorrow’s post for a way of finding that out. I’m a little pooped myself.

  36. Responding to Rockinlibrarian: I voted for Dawn Treader. That will always be my fave Narnia book. fwiw, I can’t stand Magician’s Nephew.

  37. Els Kushner says

    RMI(SS)– Only two– two!– of my votes made it onto the final list. I did vote for several books I knew were pretty obscure, but I held out hopes for a few of them.

  38. If only I could have talked one person into casting a vote for TOM! Thanks for letting me know it was #101 — my heart was breaking when it didn’t show up on the top 100.