March 11, 2014

And Though She Be But Little

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. Every week they post a new topic/top ten list and invite everyone to share their own answers. I'm so obsessed with lists - so it makes perfect sense that I'd love this feature!

Sometimes, topics like this week's are a real challenge for me. They are so open - with so many choices available - that it's hard for me to choose something that I can easily narrow down to just ten books and not seem completely repetitive from week to week. So, I thought it would be fun to focus my list a little more instead of just choosing a genre. And that's how I ended up with:

Top Ten Favorite (Childhood) Classics With Young Heroines


1. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett 
Orphaned, spoiled, prickly little Mary Lennox. She's the kind of heroine that you just want to shake but also just really love. She moves to Misselthwaite Manor after the death of her parents, and who could expect the change she'll bring to the place? The garden Mary discovers slowly becomes a place of beauty - a transformation that takes place in the hearts of the characters, too.

2. A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett
I like Mary Lennox, but I love Sara Crewe. I have to be honest and tell you that part of it is probably because I adore the movie version of this book. Just like with books, I rarely cry when watching movies. But something about this movie makes me cry every single time I watch, even though I know the tearjerker moment is coming. So, I think that's made me love this book just a little bit more. Either way, I love this story about a girl who becomes destitute after the death of her father but manages to retain her cheerful spirit despite her loss. 

3. Charlotte's Web by E.B. White
Does this one count? I think it does because Fern is important in the story, even if Wilbur and Charlotte kind of steal the show. Only a book like this could make me love three things I'm inclined to dislike in real life: spiders, pigs and rats. I love this story of friendship! This was a favorite growing up, and I keep meaning to sit down for a long overdue re-read.

4. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
I first read this book in high school, and I absolutely fell in love with Francie Nolan. She felt real to me! This coming-of-age tale just worked its way into my heart, and I've had a soft spot for it ever since. I love how it can be both utterly heartbreaking and absolutely delightful. And I can't even tell you how many things I highlighted in it! Seeing Francie discover the world around her and face the harsh reality of it just felt so honest and relatable. Even though my childhood was nothing like hers, there was something about this book that makes you feel like you understand Francie. I love the hope that infuses this book!

5. I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
I read this book for the first time in 2012, and I was completely amazed by the fact that I hadn't read it before. It was so up my alley - how did I miss this growing up?! Written as Cassandra Mortmain's journal, I fell in love with her voice and the way she described the world and people around her. As I wrote in my review: "She charms you and disarms you with her thoughtful (and often comical reflections)." It's a book that I wasn't sure whether I should be happy I finally discovered it or mad that it took me so long to find it! Either way, I can't get enough of I Capture the Castle and see myself re-reading for years to come.

6. Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder
This was never my favorite of the Little House books, but I think you've got to start with the first in the series for a list like this one. What little girl didn't grow up reading about Pa, Ma, Laura, her sisters, and Almonzo? Okay, I know plenty of people didn't read these as a child, but they definitely seem like rite of passage reads. I loved how aspects of history came alive through the pages of these books! Homesteading seemed so adventurous but also so dangerous, and I loved this little family so much for the way they faced all the challenges that came their way.

7. The Betsy-Tacy Treasury by Maud Hart Lovelace 
I didn't remember this series as clearly as the Little House and Anne books, so I decided to re-read them all again last year. To say that I fell in love would be a total understatement! This is a ten-book series, and I actually like the later books (when Betsy is in high school and beyond) better than the first four. But I figured I should highlight the series beginning in this post! Anyway, Betsy Ray is one of the best heroines - flawed but admirable - surrounded by an amazing family and incredibly friends. Also, Joe Willard. DUH.

8. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
Listen, you should have expected to see Anne Shirley on this list. I cannot get enough of this character! This is one of the books (and series) that made me reader growing up, and I love returning to this feisty heroine again and again. I know so many people who only read the first book, but I really love the entire series. It's so wonderful to watch Anne grow up! I think this is probably my favorite series ever, so you should definitely check them out if you haven't already fallen for this red-headed snippet!

9. The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery 
Okay, I'm totally cheating with this book! Majorly. Valancy Stirling is 29, and her "old age" is one of the things that precipitates the novel's action. So, she's not a young heroine, but this is my list and I wanted to push this book... so you'll have to get over it. Aside from the Anne books, this is probably my favorite book by Montgomery. It's such an excellent read, and I wish it got more attention! This has long been one of my favorite books from Montgomery, and I can't recommend it enough.

10. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
I think this is the perfect book to wrap up this list! I'm never sure if I read the book or saw the movie first. Sometimes, I think I must have seen the movie first because I remember being surprised by some of the things that happen in this classic novel. It's not because the movie changed stuff, but I just remember reading it and thinking that things are fleshed out so much more over the many pages in this book. These four sisters were some of my very favorites, and I know it's one of the reasons I love reading stories involving sisters even today. There's such a richness in that relationship!

40 comments:

  1. Charlotte's Web and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn! I loooooove CW! And I haven't read any of the others...please don't punch me...but The Little Princess if one of my favorite movies EVER! Does that get me something?

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    1. I won't punch you, BUT I may push some of these on you in the future. Mmkay?

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  2. Great topic for your list, and awesome book choices! I might be inspired to go do some re-reading now...

    (My TTT: http://mgbookreviews.wordpress.com/2014/03/10/top-ten-tuesdays-all-time-favourite-books-in-the-sci-fispeculative-fiction-genre/)

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    1. Haha! I wanted to start re-reading, too, after I finished this list!

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  3. A Tree Grows In Brooklyn is one of my all-time favorite novels--I've probably read it at least ten times over the years. Such a great novel! Have you read any of Betty Smith's other three novels--Maggie Now, Joy In The Morning, and Tomorrow Will Be Better? They're all set in the same time period and are all almost as good!

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    1. Oh goodness, it's so good and so re-readable. I've only read it three times, but I know I'll return to it again and again over the years. And no, I haven't read anything else by her. Clearly I need to remedy that!

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  4. I love Charlotte's Web and Anne of Green Gables. They were both just a big part of my childhood. Now all I can think about is Anne breaking the chalk board over Gilbert Blythe's head. Le sigh. First love.

    Aly @ My Heart Hearts Books
    My TTT

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    1. CARROTS?! Haha! So glad I brought back good memories :)

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  5. I LOVE A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, so this list = all sorts of win. :) I'm now totally thinking of the first time I read it, as well!

    My Top Ten Tuesday

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    1. Isn't it SO good? It's one I often recommend to people who don't like classics because it's more modern and is a good gateway to other books!

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  6. I adore A Little Princess and Little Women. They're both brilliant children's classics!

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  7. Oh, great list! I've read Charlotte's Web for my third grade book report, and I read Anne of Green Gables back in 5th grade for enjoyment. I loved both. :)
    Top 10 Favorite Contemporary Romance Novels
    Meet My Co-Blogger! :)

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    1. Aw I love that you remember when you read both! That's so special :)

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  8. *raises hand* Yep, I grew up on Little House too, and Charlotte's Web. Gosh, I'm just having a little skip down memory lane here. ;) A Little Princess is probably my favourite. But I wanted to waltz into that book and shake all those people who were so mean to Sara. My TTT!

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    1. HECK YES TO MEMORY LANE! I took up residence there while I was working on this post :)

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  9. What a great choice! I loved I Capture the Castle, and so many of the others are ones I haven't read, but really wish I had when I was younger. Good thing I can still remedy that, even as an adult :)

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    1. Yes, I love either returning to childhood favorites or even discovering them for the first time. There's something special about those books!

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  10. I was amazed when I was reading the Newberry books how many had strong female leads. Wrinkle in Time, of course, but also Roller Skates and Caddie Woodlawn. Older titles. Surprising.

    Here's my list: Favorite Foodie Narratives! Love to have you stop by!

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    1. That's a great point! I loved A Wrinkle in Time and Caddie Woodlawn growing up. Sometimes I browse the children's section in the used bookstore near me so I can be reminded of all the titles I loved growing up. Sometimes it's harder for me to find older titles in a place like B&N.

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    1. Thanks Juju! I hope you have fun reading some of these with your Baby Whimsy as she gets older :)

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  12. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is absolutely one of my favorite novels. I read it only a few years ago, but loved every moment of it. I haven't read A Little Princess, but I do love the movie - shame on me, I know! Little Women is such a class, too. I'm pretty sure it was the first classic book I ever read, so it holds a special place on my bookshelf :)

    My TTT!

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    1. It's one of my all-time favorites, too. Such a special book! I love the A Little Princess Movie, so no shame if you haven't read the book yet. I can never remember if the scenes or things I love are in the book AND movie or just in the movie. Oops! And yay, Little Women. It was one of my earliest classics, too!

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  13. The Secret Garden is one of my all-time favorites. Also loved Charlotte's Web! I didn't experience A Little Princess until later in life but is a lovely book. I hate to admit it but I have yet to read Anne of Green Gables. This needs to change, clearly. lol

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    1. I was in a stage production of Secret Garden... fond memories!

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  14. Love this list! Makes me so nostalgic! I most definitely want to revisit these soon. Some I actually haven't read yet (Sadly) and will now be on the hunt for them. :) Great post!

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    1. Yay for nostalgia :) And hope you enjoy the ones you haven't read yet!

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  15. I like the genre you picked! Also I'm glad there's someone else out there that has read Dobie Smith!

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    1. Oh thank you! I had fun trying to think of a "genre" that wouldn't be as popular list-wise. And yay for Dodie Smith!!

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  16. All of my childhood memories of reading just flooded back to me. :) Thanks!

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  17. I LOVEEEEE your list Hannah! Like seriously LOVE IT! I have read and loved every single book except for A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, I Capture the Castle and The Betsy Tacy Treasury. We've already had several chats about the love for Little Women, Anne and Laura Ingalls so I won't lament any more but YES! LOVE IT <3

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    1. LAUREN. Seriously. You need to read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and I Capture the Castle like yesterday. Pleaseeeee?! Also, I loved Betsy-Tacy but the books get better when the girls are older so I won't push those as hard on you haha :)

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  18. It's a bit sad how few of these childhood classics I've actually read. Of them all, I Capture the Castle is the only one I've read recently (and it was for the first time for me as well). Clearly I have lots of re-reading and catching up to do! First, I think I'll have to start with L.M. Montgomery. After all the praise that the Anne books receive, I can't believe I haven't read them yet!
    I loved reading your explanations behind your love of each of these books. :)

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    1. It's not sad - it's exciting because you've got so many good books awaiting you :) And yes, start with L.M. Montgomery. She's my very favorite of all these authors on this list. I'm totally obsessed though so I may be a bit biased :) Glad you enjoyed my list!

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  19. Great list! I loved almost all of these books as a kid :)

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    1. Yayyyy! Don't you love revisiting childhood bookish memories?

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  20. It makes me so happy that I've read a lot of the novels on your list! I seriously have to read the ones I've missed out on - I Capture the Castle, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, The Blue Castle - because they sound awesome.

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    1. EEEEEEEK! ALEXA. Those are like three of the best ones on this list. You MUST read them soon. Pretty please?!

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