By John Aloysius Farrell, Thomas Jefferson Street blog
You can write about healthcare reform and Sarah Palin until your hands cramp, but if you really want response from your readers, list the 10 best children's books—ever!
That is the lesson from New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, who published his list on Sunday and challenged readers to name their own favorites on his blog. Last I looked he had more than 2,000 responses. Kristof's collection had some of my old favorites that have fallen from favor—the Hardy Boys, and the Lad, a Dog books—and some obvious choices like the tales of Mr. Harry Potter.
But he left out a few of the all-time greats: Winnie the Pooh and Peter Pan and the Middle-Earth books by Tolkien. I can tell you that my son would never publish a list without Hatchet by Gary Paulsen, nor my daughter not include The Westing Game, a mystery by Ellen Raskin. As for me, a search of long-lost summers would find me under a tree with Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle In Time, or T.H. White's Once and Future King, which were cited in many of the comments sent in by Kristof's readers.
Here are two awesome books that don't make many lists. The Last Unicorn, by the incomparable Peter Beagle, is a wonderful work of fantasy. And, as I have noted before in this space, Robb White's The Lion's Paw—perhaps my all-time favorite—may be out of print, but you can still find it on the Internet.