4. Bridge to Terabithia (Paterson) “For the first time in his life he got up with something to look forward to. Leslie was more than his friend. She was his other, more exciting self—his way to Terabithia and all the worlds beyond.”
Bridge to Terabithia is a reminder of best friends and the magic they inspire. To Jesse, Leslie Burke—the oddball new girl who outraced him on the first day of school—is the catalyst to finding his courage and unlocking his imagination in this classic coming of age story.
5. The Hobbit (Tolkien) “There is a lot more in Mr. Baggins than you guess, and a deal more than he has any idea himself.”
When thirteen grumbling dwarves and one laughing wizard arrive for tea and stay for dinner, Bilbo Baggins discovers that he is not an ordinary, comfort-loving hobbit. Trolls, elves, goblins, riddles and rings later, this little hobbit is stabbing spiders, stealing dragon treasure, and becoming an excellent and most admirable adventurer.
6. The Tale of Desperaux (D’Camillo) “Stories are light. Light is precious is a world so dark.”
un-mousy thoughts—but of Chiaroscuro, a rat beaten down into darkness and Mig, shunted aside and in desperate need of love. Their lives twist together around a Princess, perfidy, and a castle-wide soup ban.
7. The Little Prince (Saint-Exupery) “One sees clearly only with the heart. Anything essential is invisible to the eyes.”
A pilot who never became an artist meets the Little Prince—the young ruler of a house-sized planet with three volcanoes and a rose—when his plane crashes in the Sahara. Vacillating between poignant and clever, this tale rekindles joy in simplicity, contentment with love, and reason to wonder.
I’ve found that while these books all have memorable characters, intriguing plots, and great dialogue there is a deeper common denominator, the name of which we discussed in my poetry class. All of these books have something called “psychic weight” deep in their undercurrents. There is something Important in each of them, underneath all the technical brilliance that each author displays, and that is why they are worth the shortlist.