Last night’s #kidlitchat on twitter was based on a suggestion I made a few weeks back during an open call for topics:
You’re gonna be stuck on a desert island and can have five children’s/YA books with you. Which five? And why?
I totally skipped the why part of the topic in favor of finding ways to subvert the five-book-limit. I mean, come one, if I was hauling favorite books and got stranded with them I was probably carting a good, important chunk of my library SOMEWHERE for a reason, so I probably would have ended up with more than five. But, if only five, of forced, I chose these.
The Complete Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm (the Zipes translation for now, but ultimately including the ones they recently discovered as well. Enough stories for one-a-day.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl, Schindelman illustrated edition. This is pretty much the book that hooked me as an independent reader, and with these illustrations this is pretty much a comfort book.
The Complete Nonsense Verse of Edward Lear. Another comfort book, and if I were stuck on an island I’d want a big, fat collection of short verses that I could memorize over time. Plus, I’m stuck on an island, I’m going to want some fun diversions.
Dangerous Angels, the collected Weetzie Bat stories by Francesca Lia Block. So many comfort touchstones here, but as a former Angelino this one really hits some soft spots.
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll. Huh, ya think I love me some nonsense?
I wasn’t content to stick with just five and I wanted to think about what my 16-year-old me could/would/should be stuck with on a desert island. I wanted a mix of serious and light and came up with this handful:
Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. I could have put The Count of Monte Cristo here as well. Or Hunchback of Notre Dame. I really like these sprawling epics, full of the whole range of the human condition.
Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut. Because.
Nation by Terry Pratchett. This might not stand the test of time, but when I read it a few years back it was the most modern book that felt like a classic to me. I kept feeling shades of Lord of the Flies and The Black Pearl and Treasure Island seeping through the pages.
The Collected Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. Because.
Finally, any short story collection by Ray Bradbury. Though I grew up thinking of him as a sci-fi writer I’ve really come to see that his were always stories about people and ideas, and space was just a place to lay those elements out for observation.
At this point I was on a roll, and I felt like there were too many “friends” being left behind. But what else would I want to bring with me? And how to group them?
Under the gun of one hour, could you pick only five books of children’s literature to take with you on a desert island? And which ones?
The clock is ticking!
Next: The Desert Island Archipelago!