Tuesday, October 16, 2012

You Tell Me: The Home Library Dilemma

At the SCBWI-Rocky Mountains Conference I spoke at a few weeks ago, organizer Todd Tuell posed a great dinnertime question that I've been chewing on ever since.

Imagine that your entire home library is destroyed (anguish! woe!) in a fire or flood or some such disaster. None of the books are recoverable. When it's time to start rebuilding your library: what are the very first two books (one picture book, one novel) that you'd want to put on your new shelves?

After much internal conflict and mental re-shelving, I think mine would be Blueberries for Sal and Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy. With a veryveryclose third being Charlotte's Web.

What about you?


  1. Trumpet of the Swan and Madeline. 100% positive.

  2. Wow, so hard to choose! I would have to choose The King of Attolia, and Where the Wild Things Are. What a sad thought, though, to lose my home library! I have so many signed copies that would be heartbreaking to lose - or the copies of much-loved books from growing up. A replacement just wouldn't be the same.

    Great question!

  3. Definitely Charlotte's Web. I mean, I read it aloud to the entire class when I was in the 5th grade back before the dawn of man. I've got to go with an early Seuss, McElligot's Pool, for my picture book. It was the first book to fire my imagination.

  4. Ooh, what a great question!
    I THINK...Anne of Green Gables and Christina Katerina and the Box. But there would be much wailing and gnashing of teeth.

  5. What a truly horrible situation to contemplate! My heart is breaking as I stare at my shelves and try to resist the urge to run over to them and hug them, and tell them I will never let anything happen to them...

    At the same time, the idea of starting anew (I am assuming I would not be constrained by a budget, and could repopulate my shelves in a giant, GLORIOUS spending spree) could be quite the heady experience.

    The first picture book I'd buy would likely be 'The Wolves in the Walls' by Neil Gaiman because it is hilariously dark and awesome.

    Hands down, the first novel to hit my new shelves would be 'Among the Hidden' by Margaret Peterson Haddix. I know it's more than a decade old--and written when dystopian was just a baby genre--but the story and the cliffhanger chapters get me EVERY. TIME.

  6. Well, we gave away half our home library when we moved, so I can envision this scenario. Now that my children are older, I would get a copy of Charlotte's Web because she was both -- a good friend and a great writer. And the PB that I cannot bear to part with is: The Secret by Lindsay Barrett George. It's the best love story.

  7. The novel would definitely be Anne of Green Gables. I don't actually have any PBs on my shelf at home, but in my classroom, I really enjoy using Nothing Ever Happens on 90th Street.

  8. The Flying Hockey Stick by Jolly Roger Bradfield, and Matt Gargan's Boy by Alfred Slote. Both are somewhat obscure, but also gloriously in touch with what children really feel.

  9. The Corgiville Fair by Tasha Tudor for the picture book and Black Beauty for the novel. Surprisingly easy for me to answer that (though Make Way for Ducklings was a close picture book tie)

  10. Picture book: Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel (for so many reasons: illustrations, character, industriousness, technology, change, perfect arc of the story, and so on) and novel would be Charlotte's Web (now that I think of it, for many of the same reasons as Mike Mulligan)!

  11. I would need the picture book, I'll Love you Forever. When we adopted our son at 4 1/2 this book was our favorite and was instrumental in our bonding process. I still cry if I try to read it aloud!

  12. Skippyjon Jones and The Hobbit. I never get more smiles and giggles than when I read Skippyjon to my kids, and my dad read me The Hobbit when I was little.

    And then I'd replace so many more as soon as I could!

  13. Madeline's Rescue. I could play with those words in my mouth for days. I love the skipping meter and the fun paintings.

    As for the novel... I should probably say my husband's middle grade novel but I'm going to say East of Eden. (Don't tell him!)

  14. I would probably get Of Poseidon by Anna Banks and Divergent by Veronica Roth

  15. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and Ellen Tebbits.

  16. Oh, this is so hard! I would need to replace The Ordinary Princess right away, (although it's more of a chapter book than a novel.) Picture book is harder! The Girl in the Castle Inside the Museum comes to mind right away, so I'll go with that. :)

  17. The first novel I'd buy (and I'd have to hunt for it at used book stores because I think it's out of print now) is Lilies of the Field by William E. Barrett. I've read so many times and have already gone through two copies, but I just love it. As far as picture books go, that tough...It would be either The Giving Tree or I'll Love You Forever because they both always make me cry.

  18. I hope the two I'm writing now. Rise of the Munes and the adult story of about the sequence of events that happend while writing it called Red Ribbon Trail. The first reminds us of another forgotten children's book that was an answer to Alice in Wonderland by a famous artist in 1916 but all the copies were burned. The second brings us to a real house that was built in Shirley, MA where only the fables live. It also happens to be where I meet the White Rabbit who turns out to be the former archivist of Harvard University. The story is free at www.redribbontrail.org

  19. Tragic and horrible circumstances to think about, but you pose an interesting question.

    I'm inclined to say Eve Bunting's Smoky Night, but that seems trite considering the circumstances you described.

    I love Knuffle Bunny Free: An Unexpected Diversion by Mo Willems. That book makes me cry happy tears every time I get to the end of it. For a novel, I'd pick Lois Lowry's Number the Stars because it gives me hope that even in the darkest hours there is kindness amongst strangers.

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