FYI, I finished both of these books about two weeks ago… but the last two weeks of school are killer!
Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery (new read)
First, a brief history of my experience with this book. This story, and its sequel (Anne of Avonlea) were made into TV miniseries when I was a kid. My cousin and I used to watch them over and over, after buying both on VHS (what?!). I loved the movies so much that I decided to buy the book. I think I started to read it at some point, but didn’t get very far. It has been sitting on my bookshelf ever since!
Anne is a spirited, imaginative young girl who, through a mix up by an orphanage, ends up coming to stay with an elderly brother and sister on their farm on Prince Edward Island. She falls in love with her surroundings, and her gratitude for being adopted allows her to see the beauty in all things and people. The time of the book spans about five years, starting when she’s 11. She gets into all sorts of typical tween trouble, but always learns some sort of lesson.
In general, I really enjoyed this book. It’s very wholesome, which is not a word you can use to describe many books these days, even for kids! As a reader, I rooted for Anne in every situation and was proud when she accomplished something. If I am blessed enough to have a daughter someday, I would love to read aloud this book with her when she’s in second or third grade.
My biggest complaint with this book is how wordy it was. Anne is extremely long winded, and Montgomery is quite verbose in describing any and all settings. While it made for some good visualizations, it slowed the plot at times.
VERDICT: I agree that this book is a classic. However, it’s a toss up for me as to whether or not it should be included on the list. I do think it skews more to the female gender, and doesn’t necessarily have a universal appeal. Fifth and sixth grade girls would totally want to be Anne though, or at least be her friend!
**I don’t typically do this, but based on what I remember from the movies, I’m going to recommend them over the book. Mostly because the description that takes pages in the book, can be seen in seconds on the screen. Quite the anomaly!
Beezus and Ramona by Beverly Cleary (reread)
Beverly Cleary was definitely a childhood favorite of mine. I remember reading all of the books featuring Ramona, and likening her a bit to my own younger brother. I can’t really distinguish between the stories, but have a strong sense of the characters of Beezus and Ramona.
Beezus and Ramona are sisters. In this particular book, Ramona is four and Beezus is about to turn ten. Beezus essentially is trying to live her life, but always has to drag Ramona around with her. In typical preschooler fashion, Ramona ruins everything!
I just loved reading this book. Besides being super easy of course, its so relatable. Anyone with a sibling can connect to at least one of the sisters. I was actually reading this during the teaching of our Realistic Fiction writing unit, and what a great example it is!
VERDICT: This should absolutely be on the list. I think they picked this particular story because it is the first that featured the sisters together, but any of them would be worthy. It’s silly to have it on a “young adult” list, but it’s a great book that has stood the test of time. Everyone needs to read this book–and series!
**They made a movie of this book a few years ago featuring Selena Gomez. I think it includes some scenes from other books as well, but it’s pretty cute if you want to check it out!