This feature, in which we recommend books based on what you tell us in an email, is going to be around throughout our summer vacation. I am trying to catch up on all the kind people who have been patiently waiting for a recommendation. If you have specific questions, needs, or desires (my child is a reluctant reader who loves carnage but hates cats) send it to us here, and we will do our best to recommend the right book for you. And, as always, please don’t hesitate to put in your own recommendations!
A young lady has just turned 8. She loves chapter books, and she loves to read on her own, but there is a catch: she has trouble relating to the main characters of the books she’s been reading. She herself is quiet and mannerly; she is not boisterous, and she is not a trouble-maker. She likes animal stories but not fantasy, and she is looking for a character she can related to.
This is an interesting problem, because so many of those sweet old-fashioned books seem to turn on the troubles of a rapscallion-like girl in the mores of yesteryear, I'm thinking of Anne of Green Gables and even the Little House books. It's as though she might want to read the story of Mary Ingalls rather than Laura. There are, of course, all the American Girl books, but surely we can do better than that, right? (Though I will tell the mom that that might be a good way to go.)
A caveat: the book I am recommending is a book I remember from approximately 1 million years ago, when I was a little girl. And an additional caveat: after some discussion with my older sister, who this little girl reminds me of a bit, it seems that this book might have a very strong Catholic bent. Whether this works for you or doesn’t is purely a personal choice:
This book, in my memory, is about a girl who discovers she is almost blind and gets glasses and then everything is different. In the description of the book that I’ve found, it’s about a girl and her family and cerebral palsy. I can’t figure out this discrepancy, but I can say that what I came away from the book with, as a child, was its sense of powerful and genuine sweetness.
I would also consider those excellent horse books, My Friend Flicka et al.
The other book I wanted to recommend is similarly one from childhood, but I can’t remember the title! It’s about a girl who’s the oldest, kindest girl at an orphanage, who spends the summer with two different families: an older single woman, and a hearty, happy farm family. She is such a nice, kind, and helpful girl that they both want to adopt her, and she has to choose which family. Does anyone know the name of this book? It’s been driving me crazy for a bit too long now.
And does anyone know of the right book for this yearning little girl?