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Amy's Three Best Thing by Philippa Pearce, illustrated by Helen Craig

Amy's Three Best Things is by Philippa Pearce, the author of the classic British children's novel, Tom's Midnight Garden, first published in 1957. Pearce, who wrote Amy's Three Best Things in 2003, died in 2006. Illustrator Helen Craig is best known for illustrating the original Angelina Ballerina series of books written by Katherine Holabird. Pearce and Craig teamed up on the chapter book, A Finder's MagicAmy's Three Best Things is a sweetly subtle book about a child finding ways to cope with missing her family while staying over at Grandma's house, perfectly illustrated in Craig's cozy style.

Amy's Three Best Things begins, "One day Amy said, 'I'd like to go and see Grandma soon. I'd like to go all by myself, and I'd like to stay the night." Her mother questions her because Amy has never been away from home by herself before. Amy replies. "Of course I'm sure. In fact, I'll stay two nights. No, I'll stay three."

Amy packs her bag with everything she needs, then she puts in three more things - one thing from the floor by her bed, one thing from the mantel in her bedroom and one from the rack over the bathtub. "Those are my three best things for a visit," Amy thinks to herself. As they are heading for the car, Amy asks her mother what she and Bill and Bonzo, her baby brother and dog, will do while she is at Grandma's. At Grandma's house there are lots of things to do, from cleaning out the toy cupboard to having a picnic lunch at the part to baking a cake. But at night after she goes to sleep, Amy wakes up missing home. And each night, she takes out one of her three best things and it magically carries her back home where she looks in the windows to see what her family is doing and reassure herself. Pearce ends her book with an especially lovely image and message. Amy, her family and Grandma all go to the fair where Amy decides to ride the merry-go-round, Pearce ending Amy's Three Best Things with these words, "Around and around went the merry-go-round with Amy on her dragon, and sometimes she saw her family and sometimes she didn't. But they were always there." What I especially like is that Pearce leaves readers to make the final connection themselves.

Philippa Pearce's classic...

The original Angelina Ballerina series of books illustrated by Helen Craigthe first of which was published in 1983. And, if you are a fan of Angelina Ballerina, be sure to read this article, How We Made the Children's Favourite Angelina Ballerina in which Holabird and Craig talk about their influences, from daughters who danced to growing up during the war years in a cottage without electricity or running water!


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