Another edition of We Recommend, in which we do our very best to
solve book-related questions, needs, and other miscellany, and then
turn them over to you, the readers, who really solve them. Need help
finding the right book? E-mail
us with some information about your reader, likes and dislikes, and
anything else, and we'll do our best. Now, on to our current challenge!
This one is interesting to us, because it brings up a series of books we have never read:
daughter is 6, and doesn’t read on her own, but I read to her and she
listens to books on CD. She is in love with the Melendy books by
Elizabeth Enright. She’s listened to them all multiple times and often
says she wishes there were more Melendy stories. Do you know of any
other whimsical, funny, loving family books that she might be
interested in? We’ve already read the Penderwick books by Jeanne
Birdsall, but beyond them, I’m at a loss."
Which of course led to the question: what the heck are the Melendy books? So we looked around. From what I can see (we couldn't make it to the library today due to high winds, which seems crazy but is true), they are a series from the 1940s that focuses on one family who lives in a brownstone on the upper east side, where they get into scrapes and form clubs and are generally well-drawn and human and endearing.
They seem (the books) incredibly sweet in just the way you want a child's book to be sweet. But can we come up with anything to help?
The whole upper-east-side brownstone thing calls to mind E.B. White to me, especially Stuart Little, which is an amazingly great treat (please try to erase from your mind the movie version). But what sounds wonderful as well is the Melendy's sense of place, not just the specific place but the way it calls it to life. So maybe the Betsy-Tacy books, which really bring the whole tiny town to life. Then there's All of a Kind Family, which really brings the lower east side of 1900s New York City to life. But for some reason, I'm going to go with this one:
I read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn at the totally wrong age, and never fell in love with it, but I still get flashes of weird memories it planted in me: Mama's bank nailed to the floor, the picnic that Tammany Hall took them on, the library. I'm not totally convinced—it might be too grown up, though it is very sweet at its heart—but then again, I'm not a complete trustworthy source, having not yet read the Melendy books (though I will!).
But enough with the dithering: what do you guys think?
And, if you're of a mind to, go ahead and e-mail us with your own requests! We probably won't have read enough to know about them either!