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Irresistible reads for every age

Stories that will pry even the most reluctant readers away from their gadgets.

By Connie Matthiessen

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The Odious Ogre

By Norton Juster, illustrated by Jules Feiffer
Michael di Capua Books (Scholastic), September 2010, $17.95
Ages 4-8

Almost 50 years ago, Norton Juster and Jules Feiffer collaborated on the classic The Phantom Tollbooth. They've finally teamed up again for The Odious Ogre. In this tale a fearsome ogre terrorizes and snacks on villagers, and everything is going along just fine (for him) until he meets a girl who isn't afraid of him. The ogre tries repeatedly to scare her, but she sees only the best in him and treats him with kindness (and muffins and tea). Feiffer's wonderful drawings of the ogre and his befuddled reaction to his gentle adversary will engage kids and grownups alike.

Bottom line: Juster and Feiffer team up again in this modern fable.

Connie Matthiessen is an associate editor at GreatSchools.

Comments from readers

"'pplitically correct' is not the point- an no, everything does not have to mirror everyone exactly. But yes, it is vitsl that children see positive images of themselves, and of all kinds of people, in the literature they read, and all the mass media they consume. That is where they build their picture of the world. And in fact, that is part of the definition of, 'quality literature.'"
"What about books for 3-4 yrs. olds?? "
"Good grief- I am reacting to the previous two posts. Must everything be politically correct?? Can't we just have quality books that have good story lines? Ever noticed how abysmal our education system is? Are we focused on the kids or making sure everything is perfect politically? Enough already."
"I have not read 'Devil Dog' but I am reacting to the retro sexism of the cover: Shouldn't we be encouraging our boys and girls to look critically at the way we 'used to' think of the roles of the sexes instead of tacitly endorsing out of date stereotypes? Whether the fault of the publisher or inherent in the actual story line, I am saddened to think that such blatant sexism is permissible, acceptable even, if couched in retro terms. If we were to see, for example, a racist or antisemitic stereotype from the same era, we would think it unacceptable. Let's not loose sight of how demeaning sexist stereotypes are too -- for everyone."
"I clicked to this article with great anticipation. I am very disappointed that you could not find books that mirrored the diversity of our children. No books with images of children of color. There are many published author who write about children of color include children from many backgrounds. I hope you can do better in 2011. #GreatSchoolsNet #FAIL as we would tweet on twitter."

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