Children's Books 1970-1979
Frog and Toad Are Friends by Arnold Lobel
First published by Harper & Row in 1970, Frog and Toad are Friends was written and illustrated by Arnold Lobel. This was the first book of the Frog and Toad Series, and like the subsequent three books in the series is comprised of five short, easy-to-read stories, good to share with children ages four and up. This book was a Caldecott Honor Book, and Lobel is one of just a few people to have been honored as an author and an illustrator for both the Caldecott and Newbery medals after he was awarded the Newbery Honor Award for Frog and Toad Together (1972) in 1973. First editions of Frog and Toad are Friends have a $2.50 printed price and no ISBN.
Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret by Judy Blume
First published by Yearling in 1970, Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret is about a sixth-grade girl growing up and wondering about God and puberty and boys. Author Judy Blume was one of the first Young Adult novelists to write about subjects long considered taboo for teens, and is credited for helping to get generations of pre-teens into reading. Her books have also been challenged because of their frank discussion of topics like religion and sex, and Blume has been named one of the most frequently challenged authors according to the American Library Association. Children ages ten and up will relate to this classic coming of age story.
Go Ask Alice by Anonymous
Published by Prentice Hall in 1971 this ‘Anonymously’ published book was advertised as the real-life diary of a drug-addicted fifteen-year-old. The author is rumored to be Beatrice Sparks, a therapist, and Mormon Youth Counselor. Sparks is noted as an editor for this, and other ‘real life’ diaries of teenagers going through crises like Annie’s Baby (1988) about teenage pregnancy, and It Happened to Nancy about a 14-year-old rape victim who contracts AIDS and dies. Go Ask Alice has remained popular enough to stay in print since its publication, and people still find value in the book for mature children ages thirteen and up. In 1973 a made-for-TV movie based on the book was released, starring William Shatner.
Freaky Friday by Mary Rodgers
First printed by Harper & Row in 1972, Freaky Friday was written by Mary Rodgers, the daughter of the famed composer Richard Rodgers of Rodgers and Hammerstein. Initially a music composer herself, Rodgers published the children’s book Freaky Friday to much success and went on to write the screenplay for the feature film that was released in 1976 starring fourteen-year-old Jodie Foster. The novel, about a willful and disorganized teen who wakes up in her mother’s body, while her mother wakes up in hers, was also the basis for the 2003 Disney movie starring Lindsay Lohan.
Watership Down by Richard Adams
Watership Down is an intense and stirring tale by English author Richard Adams. After being rejected many times, it was finally published by Rex Collings Ltd of London in 1972. The story features a small group of anthropomorphised rabbits as they escape the destruction of their warren and seek a place to establish a new home (the hill of Watership Down), encountering perils and temptations along the way.
The Slave Dancer by Paula Fox
First published in 1973 by Bradbury Press, The Slave Dancer depicts the transatlantic slave trade through the eyes of thirteen-year-old Jessie Bollier, who has been kidnapped from New Orleans and forced to play music aboard a slave ship. The story is dark, disturbing, and heavily researched by author Paula Fox, who wrote many other acclaimed books for both children and adults. The Slave Dancer was awarded the Newbery Medal in 1974. This novel is best for children ages ten and up.
The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
Published by Pantheon Books in 1974, The Chocolate War is about a fictional high school’s that uses a secret society to control the population. It depicts how ugly mob-mentality can lash out cruelly against a lone, non-conforming student. Although it received mixed reviews upon publication, it has been argued by some to be the best young adult novel of all time. A later paperback edition of the book stated “A compelling combination of The Lord of the Flies and A Separate Peace.” The sexual content, strong language, and violence have caused the book to be challenged and banned by multiple groups and institutions. This novel is best for young adults, ages fourteen and up.
Danny, the Champion of the World by Roald Dahl
Danny is a lucky kid - he and his father live in a snug little gypsy caravan, tell stories, keep a gas station, build kites and balloons to fly, and generally have a good time! Their habit of poaching pheasants in the wood gets them into trouble but hopefully Danny can save the day. This tale of a boy and his dad was published in London in 1975.
Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt
Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in 1975, Tuck Everlasting is a book about immortality written by Natalie Babbitt. Babbitt’s first experience in children’s publishing was when she collaborated with her husband, doing the illustrations for The Forty-Ninth Magician. She went on to author and illustrate many other books for children until her death in 2016. Tuck Everlasting has been her most acclaimed and popular, receiving a Newbery Honor Award, and being twice adapted into a film, and once into a Broadway musical. This novel is great for children ages 9 and up.
Little Man, Little Man by James Baldwin
First published by Dial Press in 1976, James Baldwin’s only book written for children follows four-year-old TJ through life and adventures in Harlem. With illustrations by the French artist Yoran Cazac, this book was out of print for forty years before being re-released by Duke University Press in August 2018. The new edition includes a forward by Baldwin’s nephew Tejan "TJ" Karefa-Smart and an afterword by his niece Aisha Karefa-Smart. Although technically a picture book with a four-year-old protagonist, the longer format is best for children ages nine and up.
Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
Published by Thomas Y. Crowell, NY in 1977, Bridge to Terabithia is the story of two lonely fifth-graders who form a friendship and create an imaginary world they can escape into. Ranked as one of the best children’s books of all time, it has also been challenged and banned because of some language, the characters questioning of religion, and the tragedy involved. Seriously though, this book is heartbreaking, but still a great read for everyone nine and up.
Anno's Italy by Mitsumasa Anno
First published by Collins, New York, in 1978, this wordless picture book follows the artist’s journey to Italy as a young man, and incorporates many hidden pictures to find, including the story of Christ from the Annunciation to the crucifixion. Mitsumasa Anno is a celebrated Japanese illustrated, most famous for his works featuring tiny, detailed figures, and little or no words. This beautiful book can be shared with bibliophiles of any age.
The Snowman by Raymond Briggs
The Snowman barely made it on this list because although it is so well known, it contains no words. This picture book by Raymond Briggs was first published in 1978 by Hamish Hamilton in the United Kingdom and published by Random House in the United States in November of the same year. It has since been republished, turned into a film, a video game, and been expounded upon in a sequel.
The Cave of Time by Edward Packard
The first of the trade-marked ‘Choose-Your-Own-Adventure’ series, The Cave of Time was published by Bantam in 1979. These stories brought role-playing to the mainstream and set the precedent for later web-based games. Edward Packard originally came up with the concept for the Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Books in 1969 and published his first book Sugarcane Island through Raymond A. Montgomery with Vermont Crossroads Press in 1976. After publishing two more books through Lippincott in the late 1970s, Bantam picked up and trademarked the series, and Montgomery was signed on to write books for the series as well. First edition, first printings of The Cave of Time will have a full number line and a slight offset of printing on the spine that was later corrected.
Author Bio: Amy C. Manikowski is a writer, bookseller, trail-diverger, history buff, and pitbull lover. She graduated from Chatham University with an MFA a while ago, and after wandering aimlessly settled in Asheville NC.