#1. FROM THE MIXED-UP FILES OF MRS. BASIL E. FRANKWEILER by E. L. Konigsburg. [Newberry Medal Winner, 1968] I think the fact that I can remember the entire title (spelling included) without having to look it up speaks to how much I loved this book. It's about a girl and her younger brother who decide to run away... to the Metropolitan Museum of Art (in NYC). The adventure begins with them standing on toilet seats to avoid detection of the security guard and they manage to stay in the museum for a week, studying the exhibits and becoming fascinated with one in particular. The true quest begins as they try to determine the mysterious origins of the "angel" statue, ultimately digging through the files of the its former owner, none other that Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. I remember being so in love with the idea of running away to a museum and finding a mystery to solve once there.
#2. THE WESTING GAME by Ellen Raskin. [Newberry Medal Winner, 1979] Another mystery/puzzle book. This one is an absolute classic. The sixteen residents of Sunset Towers apartments in Chicago are paired up and sent on a quest to solve the mystery and win Sam Westing's fortune. Crazy characters, clues, puzzles, and a lovable heroine. I love a good mystery, and it's probably because this book meant so much to me. Can I tell you how excited I am to be published by the same house that published this? Who could have known when I first read this book like twenty years ago (omg I'm getting old) that I'd be sorta among it's future ranks? It's gotta be fate. (On Amazon, this book has 709 reviews with an average of 4.5 stars. Now that's a winner.)
#3. THE EGYPT GAME by Zilpha Keatley Snyder. [Newberry Honor Book, 1968] This is my most obscure favorite. I swear, if not for the Scholastic catalog, I would be severely less well read than I am. Anyway, this is the book the dove me head first into ancient cultures. It's about a group of kids who get enthralled with ancient Egypt and start an elaborate make-believe world that recreates that past. There's also a mystery (duh, right?) and plenty of Egyptian mythology. After reading this book I became obsessed with ancient Egypt. I bought books about it, tried to learn hieroglyphics (ha), and ultimately this love of ancient culture spread into other cultures... like ancient Greece. Which definitely influence my own writing career, since much of my book relates to Greece myth. It's amazing, when you think about, how the most seemingly insignificant thing (like picking a book out of the Scholastic catalog) can change a person's entire life. (Oh, and this one was set in California, so I have the East Coast, Midwest, and West Coast covered in my selections!)
[The Book Without a Title], Summer 2008 Dutton Children's Books
what I'm reading ... THE STAND by Stephen King (finally broke down and bought the uncut edition, sigh...)