We Recommend: 6 1/2-year-old girl seeks awesomeness

It’s We Recommend! In which we post a request that's been sent to us, and do our best to get that person the right book. Know a kid who needs a book to read? Send us (thediamondinthewindow (at) gmail (dot) com) his or her likes, dislikes, favorites, quirks, and any other reading information that might be helpful, and we will think on it, and pose it to our oh-so-helpful readers. And look in the comments—all the best recommendations are there.

It's back! And it's a fun one, because just reading it makes you remember how much fun it is to start reading. All of a sudden you can fly, just anywhere. And lo, she is flying. See?

I stumbled across your website as we have just discovered the "Katie Woo" books and are looking for other recommendations for similar books. My daughter is 6.5-yrs-old and in Grade 1. She loves The Kingdom of Wrenly, The Adventures of Sophie Mouse, Mermaid Rock, The Cobble Street Cousins. I have read her all of The Magic Treehouse series, we are onto Greetings from Somewhere, and I have read aloud all of the animal books by Jill Tomlinson. There are a few great series that are a little bit too long for her to read yet like Piper Green, Violet Mackerel, and the Sword Girl books. She does not like Geronimo Stilton, Flat Stanley or Nate the Great. And we haven't tried any of the Junie B. Jones or Ivy and Bean type ones because I don't really like sassy, bickering characters that focus on school yard drama… haha…. Any suggestions for us!? Primarily looking for easy chapter books with some colour pictures that my daughter can read aloud like the Katie Woo books. Fairies, mermaids, strong, creative female main characters are a bonus.

Fairies! Mermaids! And wow, that Katie Woo has some special powers. Remember this? And the terrifying follow-up? Sometimes I still worry about that librarian hiding behind her desk while the little girls rattle the doors bellowing "Katie Woo! Katie WOO!"

Anywoo (ouch, sorry) what about this young lady? So many wonderful books for her! My first thought was The Fairy Realm, because oh! She would love them! But then I asked Chestnut, and she reminded me of all that is good. In other words, she remind me of this:


I have no idea why that is so gigantic. But the thing is: she is right. These books are wonderful, and they will be so utterly satisfying.

But…you all must have ideas, right? Mermaids? Fairies? Strong female characters? Books she will read on her own? Doesn't this sound like a wonderful pleasure? Please put all your excellent ideas in the comments, so she can read them all.

We Recommend: Imaginary Characters

It’s We Recommend! In which we post a request that's been sent to us, and do our best to get that person the right book. Know a kid who needs a book to read? Send us (thediamondinthewindow (at) gmail (dot) com) his or her likes, dislikes, favorites, quirks, and any other reading information that might be helpful, and we will think on it, and pose it to our oh-so-helpful readers. And look in the comments—all the best recommendations are there.

What, you may be asking, are imaginary characters? Aren't all characters (in fiction at least) imaginary? 

Yeah, that's what I was wondering too, when I got this:

My sone just read The Magic Finger by Roald Dahl, and is reading George’s Marvelous Medicine, both of which he really likes. He likes books with imaginary characters that are interesting to read. 

Well, books with imaginary characters that are interesting to read would pretty much cover my interests too. But more! I needed more! So I wrote back and asked for more. What was an imaginary character anyway?

He told me likes “magical” characters, and yes he loves fiction although he is also obsessed with cars and would read non-fiction about how cars are made forever. He’s just starting to read 60- to 80-page chapter books, and I’m hoping to find books that size or a little longer with a capturing story that can keep him practicing. He’s turning 8 this december, he’s moderately interested in baseball, obsessed with cars, likes science and “how things are made.”

Ah! Magical characters! Now we're cooking with gas. Also, he will read nonfiction about how cars are made forever? I am, as often happens, captivated by the very idea of this person going busily about the world, with his strong and strongly felt, interests. 

But the real issue is: what should he read? Of course, one wants to go with Roald Dahl, and I was thinking about Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, but first of all, he's probably read it, or at least heard of it, and second of all, Charlie is an ordinary boy in a magical world. Are there any magical characters I could think of?

Strangely, this was harder than I'd thought it would be. So many regular kids! So many magical worlds they go to! I thought of Stuart Little—a mouse is certainly magical. I thought of Secrets of Droon—but I always recommend that, and the kids aren't magic. I thought of Miss Piggle-Wiggle, and hit right up against non-magical kids again.

I suggest this with trepidation, but hope:


My reasoning? He's flat, for Pete's sake! That is magical. 

And I don't want to go crazy on this kid and offer the Hobbit when he's ready to read 80 and 90 page books. Flat Stanley is an icon! A hero! A touchstone! 

At least I hope he is. I have not, it must be admitted, read Flat Stanley, so please please please if I am far off, readers, speak out in the comments! And find us some magical characters while you're at it!

We Recommend: Chapter Book for Thoughtful 7-Year-Old

It’s We Recommend! In which we post a request that's been sent to us, and do our best to get that person the right book. Know a kid who needs a book to read? Send us (thediamondinthewindow (at) gmail (dot) com) his or her likes, dislikes, favorites, quirks, and any other reading information that might be helpful, and we will think on it, and pose it to our oh-so-helpful readers. And look in the comments—all the best recommendations are there.

I am in California! Which is nuts, but extremely nice at the same time. And last night I had the rarest of all We Recommend scenarios, the one in which I meet a person, who in this case has a 7-year-old, and my excellent friend says to her, "Ask her! She'll know the right book!" And I try to come up with something.

So what we have here, friends, is not a letter or email, but a vague, half-remembered, probably inaccurate reporting of a conversation, like so:

My 7-year-old son loves to read, and we're looking for chapter books for him, but he's also easily scared, so nothing too scary. We were thinking of Harriet the Spy, is it going to go over his head?

So first we have to bow down and acknowledge the overall awesomeness of Harriet the Spy, which is a wonderful book, and which he would certainly love. And also maybe we should make time to notice that we have forgotten whether he likes fantasy, or realistic books, or what (oops. Our excuse = jet lag). Suffice it to say that he reads a lot of chapter books already, and is hungry for more.

Onwards. I've been thinking, first of all, that of course he should read Harriet the Spy, because everyone should read Harriet the Spy, whether they get all the nuances or not. It's just fun, and he can reread it when he's 11 and understand more. But. What else should he read?

It seems to me that he is of that age and disposition when the classics make all the sense in the world. For instance, The Trumpet of the Swan and Stuart Little are long and rich and absorbing, but not at all scary. For other fun, I mentioned Secrets of Droon. And then this morning, as I hung around at 5am drinking coffee that was WAY too strong (can you tell? Is it totally obvious?) I thought: heavens! He should read this!


I know there are all sorts of opinions on which is best, but if you want the honest truth (and who doesn't?): this is the best one. The big bladder catch! The smoking of the ham! Pa! Ma! Maple sugar candy made in the snow! All of it.

What's that, you say? He's already read that? Well, that's entirely possible isn't it. Which is why it is SO IMPERATIVE that you put your own suggestions for what this literate young person should read in the comments.

We Recommend: Wild Man Edition

It's We Recommend, where (when?) people write (or call) us asking for the perfect book for their reader, and we try our darndest to comply. Looking for a recommendation? Just email as at thediamondinthewindw (at) gmail (dot) com, with the age, reading level, likes, dislikes, loves, longings, losses, and anything else that might be helpful abour your reader. And the secret of it all? The best recommendations are in the comments.

This one is for someone near and dear to me, my most excellent nephew, who is a prodigious reader and something of a wild man. See here.

He is 7 years old, reads A LOT, and also tears around. What's the thing that keeps him calm when indoors (where it's sometimes better to be calm)? A nice fat stack of books. Previous successes have been: The Secrets of Droon. Animorphs, though, was too scary. The "according to Humphrey" series was a big hit, as was Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (he hasn't read the others yet, given that Animorphs was too scary. Another miss? The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler: too confusing. He is only 7, after all. What do you got?

Well. A few things we've recommended in the past: Dragons of Deltora, and Deltora Quest. Also, of course, The Box Car Children. Magic Treehouse they've left far behind them in the rear view mirror. Hmmm. I happen to know they've read all of Roald Dahl and Ramona the Pest. Wait a second—is it possible they haven't read….the Fudge books????


Holy cow. If it's really true they haven't gotten to these yet, I think I've done it. Though it's not exactly a stack.

But now, I step back for the experts: do you know of a perfect, thrilling, absorbing stack of a books for a very nice avid reader?

The Good, the Bad, and the “Oh, That”

Happy post-thanksgivukah haze to all of you. And now, a blow by blow of the brutal, unforgiving book-gift-giving process.

We start with the 10-year-old boy. A sweet guy with a reading disability, he's tricky to buy books for, and I can tell you that we pretty much failed, though others were more successful. We got him:


His reaction: "Oh. This."

His other aunt got him:


His reaction: "Cool!" He proceeded to read it for the rest of the evening.

Ahem. On to: more books, and other nieces and nephews.

The 5-year-old. We got him: A really beautiful illustrated book that was very long and narrow, with illustrations of buildings going up and then falling down. No, I don't remember the title or author, because apparently I'm trying to cement our reputation here as being pretty out of it.

His reaction: Heartbroken weeping, though later he did read it with his mom, tears drying on his face.

The 8-year-old cousin who is a very, very nice little girl. We got her:


Her reaction: she glanced at it, then went chasing after her big cousins to see what they were doing.

The 5- and 7-year-old nephews were given a collection of books that were given to this blog. These were:


Reaction: A quite-satisfied sort of "Yeah, they really do have bad drawing!"


Their reaction: 0. My response: This book is so cool, it's skeletons! Their response to my response: 0.

There were maybe 5 other books in the pile, and after 1.3 seconds necessary for the Stick the Dog comment, the books were shoved under the dining room table and everyone ran out of the room.

Then there's Chestnut. She got this:


Yes, it was because of you people telling me about it. Thank you! She got it from her aunt, though, not from me. Her reaction: YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

Diana got this from her aunt on my strong, strong recommendation:

Roz Chast_Cartoon

Her reaction: Oh. Thanks.

She also got these:


Her reaction: Oh, look at these.

Are you noticing the lack of exclamation points here? Are you getting the level of difficulty we all face?

We face a very high level of difficulty.

But this is just the nieces and nephews, aunts and uncles version. Stay tuned, as we find out: what went down when WE tried to get Chestnut and Diana books they would like.

Spoiler alert: (And I say this even before we have given them.) I think they won't like them so much. Sigh.