a peek inside the fishbowl

08 Apr, 2010

Scattered thoughts about kidlit love

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Easy ways to make kids happy

I am in birthday planning mode right now. Sarah is about to be nine and it’s been rather chaotic around here. I’ve been thinking a lot about things like loot bags and birthday cakes and presents.

One of the parents of asked us what Sarah would like for her birthday. If I had to give one answer it’d be BOOKS. She’s really into historical fiction. Specifically, the lives of the Tudors. (Go figure.) Every once in awhile she’ll pipe up about King Henry his poor wives. It’s history 101. I’m going to have to keep the Wikipedia page about the Tudors open on my computer for easy access from now on.

One of our gifts to Sarah will probably be a book. We know her well so we know what kind of books she’d enjoy. She likes comics just as much as she enjoys historical novels.

But sometimes kids are hard to buy books for, especially if it happens to be one you don’t know very well.

I have a name for you: Graeme Base. His work is immensely creative, spans many age groups and is interesting to adults too. Are you familiar with his work?

Friends gave us a copy of The Waterhole when Emma was small. There was a time when she insisted we pour over it with her every night before she went to sleep.

Last week Emma snagged a copy of The Eleventh Hour from our community bookshelf. It’s brilliant. Genius. Delightful. The writing, the illustration, the DETAIL. It is amazing on many many levels. I can’t imagine a boy or girl who wouldn’t love it.

As a family we read from a chapter book every night. Right now we are just finishing the VERY LAST Harry Potter. We’re at the point where Dumbledore and Harry are at a heavenly King’s Cross, chatting about You-Know-Who. The girls are on the edge of their seats.

I’m not sure what’s next. Recommendations are welcome!

What are your kids reading right now?

18 Responses to "Scattered thoughts about kidlit love"

1 | Marla

April 8th, 2010 at 9:10 am


Josie and I just started the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. I don’t know who’s loving it more, but all of a sudden, every robin is leading us somewhere and she’s very sorry we seem to only live with dumb animals.

2 | Carrie

April 8th, 2010 at 9:14 am


I *adore* The Eleventh Hour. I bought it for myself many years ago (pre-kids) and have always regretted opening the reveals in the back of the book. I wish now I had taken more time to try to figure it out myself!

3 | sassymonkey

April 8th, 2010 at 9:18 am


Have you done Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson and the Olympians series yet? It’s got a good mythology thing going on.

4 | Vicky

April 8th, 2010 at 9:27 am


My 3 year old has discovered Brady Brady books. He got one for his birthday last fall, and we’ve found a few at the library since then. They are short stories about a boy named Brady and his backyard hockey rink. Each one is also recommended by a famous hockey player!

Not sure your 9 year old would enjoy these, but they are great for hockey loving preschoolers!

5 | Darcy

April 8th, 2010 at 11:24 am


We also loved the Eleventh Hour and have not cracked the back yet – though I am so tempted.

I love Holes and recently loaned it to the 8 and 12 year old neighbour kids. They loved it too.

6 | karen

April 8th, 2010 at 11:57 am


Have you tried Anne of Green Gables or the Little House on the Prarie series?

7 | Michelle

April 8th, 2010 at 12:21 pm


My almost nine year old and I have read some great books lately. We just finished reading The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall. I loved it as much as she did. Like you Andrea we read one chapter a night together. The other book we read was The Royal Woods by Matt Duggan.

8 | Susan

April 8th, 2010 at 1:09 pm


“The Mysterious Benedict Society” (3 books in the series). Kalidescope Books in Old Ottawa South carries them.

They can also make excellent recommendations on what books your daughter may enjoy based what she likes to read.

9 | Jibiibear

April 8th, 2010 at 3:43 pm


Last winter my youngest and I read the whole Narnia series together…snuggled in mamas bed 30 minutes before official bed time for an adventure to Narnia!

We are currently reading Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief…very exciting, edge of your seat reading, and lots of discussions about Greek mythology.

We’ve also gotten through Wind In the Willows, Because of Winn Dixie, The North Child and The Golden Compass.

As for Graeme Base, have you read Animalia or Jungle Drums? They are big faves here along with The Waterhole.

Just a note on the history books….there is a series of books called Horrible History. They are very popular in the school library I work in. They also have other “Horrible” sets, my 11 year old is hugely into the Horrible Science sets.

10 | Lynn

April 8th, 2010 at 3:58 pm


I love The Eleventh Hour too! My mom gave it to me as a gift when I was in high school. It wasn’t too juvenile for me at all and I loved it. I’m currently working on his “Animalia” with the Captain – it’s an alphabet book where you try to pick out as many things on each page that begin with the featured letter. Yay Graeme Base!

11 | Laura Quirk

April 8th, 2010 at 5:19 pm


I love Graeme Base books, but find them hard to find. I had my grade 6 class make alphabet books in groups based off his Animalia book. Following that we also read Enigma with its wonderfully wordy, rhyme pattern. My own kids love both of those books as well. One of my students signed out from the library.. I think it was called Uno’s Garden, also great!

12 | Alan

April 8th, 2010 at 5:47 pm


Just finished The Secret Garden with my 8 yo old. Loved it!!!!

13 | Finola

April 8th, 2010 at 8:08 pm


Oh so many with my (almost) 6 and 8 year old girls!

Boxcar Children series
Princess School series
Old Nancy Drews
Enid Blyton books
Cam Jansen
A to Z mysteries
Three Investigators

So many more….

14 | Jen

April 8th, 2010 at 9:00 pm


I don’t have a girl old enough for bedtime reading, she’s only 12 weeks :-), but I was a huge fan of Enid Blyton books – everything from the Famous Five and Five-Found-Outers adventures, to the Mallory Towers series (and then I went through a period where I wished I was British, and in boarding school) I actually still have them all on my book shelf!

15 | Robyn

April 8th, 2010 at 9:29 pm


Loved Harriet the Spy as a child and loved reading it with my 9-year-old — it works on so many levels.

16 | Shar-Lee

April 9th, 2010 at 4:30 am


I think you spoke too soon about your reading of THE LAST HARRY POTTER. My 14 year old informed me earlier tonight that the 8th book will be coming out soon.

17 | Stefania (Ingredients for Life)

April 9th, 2010 at 6:35 am


I too am an avid reader of the Henry 8 time period. That’s so cool that someone that young is into it too.

Do you read a loud with the girls each night?

I have no recommendations since all the ones above are all so cool.

18 | Miss Vicky

April 9th, 2010 at 9:09 am


Well, we’re not into chapter books yet, but G does have a voracious appetite for stories. I will file these away for future reference and stick to Dr Seuss and Dino Hockey for now

comment form:


Stay in touch

Me and my pet projects

Ottawa Bucket list

Subscribe via email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

  • Lynn: Excellent to hear! Every person who reports getting the shot makes me feel hopeful, like we are one more small step closer to good times again. Our
  • a peek inside the fishbowl » Blog Archive I got jabbed! #TeamPfizer - a peek inside the fishbowl: […] the same day our youngest turned 20, I got my first Covid vaccine. For the record, my next one is scheduled four months from […]
  • andrea tomkins: Heeeey! I'm glad it was a good experience for you! Thanks for letting me know. :)
  • Kylie: Thanks for telling us about the SavvyCompany fondue party! We signed up with relatives across Ontario as a fun (virtual) way to celebrate my mother-in
  • Charlotte: Thank you for this awesome post. it’s a very informative blog thanks for sharing with us.
  • andrea tomkins: I don't own any Miik items, just seen those pretty dresses from afar! :) I didn't know they made leggings and am intrigued...
  • molly: Have you purchased Miik before? I have a couple of dresses and I wear them all summer - like, twice a week - and they wash beautifully. And so so comf

The Obligatory Blurb

My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human daughters: Emma (20) and Sarah (18). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

If you'd like to contact me, please use this form. If you're so inclined, you can read more about me here. Thank you for visiting!


Connect with me at these places too!

On the nightstand

All hail the mighty Twitter