This week's Top Ten Tuesday Topic is a VERY awesome one I am grateful to Davida Chazan at The Chocolate Lover's Book Blog for suggesting: "books written before I was born," which made me lol because that's basically half my content every other week, so I decided to up the challenge by one generation and restrict myself to books published before 1952 (sorry to reveal your age on the internet, Mom).
I still had 50+ books tagged on my 'vintage' shelf on Goodreads shelf that fit these parameters, and that doesn't even include the extensive back catalogs of older authors I read as a kid. (...OR PICTURE BOOKS. I could have done picture books again!! Oh well.)
1. Luck of the Trail - Esther Birdsall Darling
I dare you to find me a more authentic author of early 20th century sled dog tales. She has more famous ones about more famous dogs, like Baldy of Nome, but this is the one that lodged in my heart. Even if I don't fully remember its plot.
2. Misty of Chincoteague - Marguerite Henry
I can't NOT shout out my favorite author, and although this is probably one of her more well known horse books and I prefer to be Encyclopedia Obscura over here, it's still not as well known as it should be.
3. Silver Birch - Dorothy Lyons
Nor can I fail to praise one of my other favorite horse book authors, this one the first in a quartet* about a ranch girl whose talent lies in gentling and training lost-cause horses, and who ultimately wants to breed palominos. (*including the only one popular enough to be distributed by Scholastic, Golden Sovereign)
4. Vulpes the Red Fox - Jean Craighead George
JCG's first book was definitely a favorite of mine as a kid, and one that influenced my love of both her books and realistic wildlife stories in general.
5. Children of the Covered Wagon - Mary Jane Carr
I'm gonna shout this one out, even though I don't remember it much, just because I've always thought it was cool that there was an Oregon Trail book long before kids would be widely obsessed with the idea because of a computer game, and I gave it 5 stars when I read it.
6. Hoofbeats on the Trail - Vivian Breck
A month-long trip group hiking in the Sierra Nevada, with equine pack animals? Sign me UP! Literally and figuratively.
7. Bright Island - Mabel Robinson
Born and raised on Bright Island off the Maine coast, Thankful Curtis is more like her sea captain grandfather than any of her older brothers are. Nothing suits her better than sailing and helping her father with the farm. But when her dreaded sisters-in-law suggest that Thankful get some proper schooling on the mainland, the wind is knocked from her sails.
This is one my mom actually recommended to me, after a year-long quest to remember what it was called and an MVP What's That Book? member finding it. It was one of her favorite books as a young teen and I really loved it as well.
8. The Ark - Margot Benary-Isbert*
Two rooms all to themselves, it was almost too good to be true! For this was postwar Germany, filled with starving, homeless people trying to stay alive amidst the rubble, and to the Lechows the two freezing attic rooms in Mrs. Verduz' house on Parsley Street were an unbelievable stroke of luck.
Written for a teen audience, I have never heard anything more exciting in my life than the news that this book is back in print, along with its sequel Rowan Farm (I might actually ask for it for my birthday). Follows a family of five in the day-to-day of trying to cope with rationing and the lack of a permanent roof over their heads, until two of them find work and lodging at a far more pleasant rural location.
*The English translation was not published until '53, but it is originally from 1949 so I'M COUNTING IT.
9. And Both Were Young - Madeleine L'Engle*
Speaking of the immediately post-WWII era, here's one about a girl attending a Swiss boarding school and struggling to adjust her introvert tendencies to the demands of a school where you are basically never alone or unsupervised. I suspect it's faded a bit into obscurity, given that I'd never heard of it until I came across a new edition in the library despite its author's fame, but still probably more recognizable than the above, and having just read it a few months ago for the first time, I'm still very excited about it,
*An expanded version with added material from the original manuscript was published in the 80s - still before I was born - but again, the original version was published in '49. That was a good year, year my dad was born (Dad won't care if I reveal his age on the internet).
10. Going On Sixteen - Betty Cavanna
Fourteen-year-old Julie tries to escape her own sense of inadequacy and her friends' talk of boys and parties by devoting herself to raising an orphaned collie pup.
I read this in middle school and actually did not realize how old it was until just now, when I was trying to choose a Cavanna book rep -- I always assumed it was from the 80s. (but here is the original cover) I loved this one and never forgot it, even before I realized who its author was.
11. With A High Heart - Adele De Leeuw
Because what's better than a library science student on summer assignment starting a rural bookmobile?
12. Raff: The Story of an English Setter - F.E. Rechnitzer
Story of a dog's life, from birth in a professional kennel, to his immediate bond with the owner's son and his promising training as a field trial dog, until tragic circumstances strike and he becomes a stray trying to get back home.
ALL RIGHT, CUTTING MYSELF OFF THERE. But the moral of the story is, both children's and teen books have been awesome for a really long time.
CHALLENGE: what's your favorite book written before your mother (or father, as you prefer) was born?
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P.S. Next week is a "love freebie" and I am very excited about the topic I picked (I have one I've wanted to do for AGES), but also kind of bummed out because I wrote that one first, and only while I was writing this one did I realize "top 10 Marguerite Henry books" (the author I most love) would have been a really fun way to take on the theme as well. Alas! I guess I'll shoot for that in the even further future.