Children's Books 1990-1999
Oh, the Places You'll Go! by Dr. Seuss
Published by Random House in 1990, Oh, The Places You’ll Go! became an instant classic and favorite gift for graduates from preschool to graduate school. An illustrated speech about the thrills and adventures that await you on your road to a successful life, Seuss includes inevitable downfalls and scary beasts, but assures reader young and old that everything will turn out okay. Although there are first editions on the market, there doesn’t seem to be any signed editions. This is the last book by Dr. Seuss published during his lifetime; he died September 24, 1991, at the age of 87.
Shrek by William Steig
Many movie fans might not realize that Shrek! started as a picture book published in New York in 1990. American writer and cartoonist William Steig created the now insanely popular story about a disgusting green creature who leaves his home with a donkey sidekick and ends up saving a princess during their adventures. Finding first editions in good condition can be difficult and as such, they have consistently grown in value over the years.
Tuesday by David Wiesner
Tuesday was published by Clarion Books, New York, in 1991. Written by David Wiesner, an American author and illustrator, best known for his mostly wordless picture books which tell fantastical stories through the illustrations. The story gives a whimsical account of an extraordinary Tuesday when frogs go on an airborne adventure on their lily pads. Weisner was awarded the Caldecott medal for Tuesday, as well as Three Pigs (2001) and Flotsam (2006)
The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales by Jon Scieszka
First published in 1992 by Viking, The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales is a collection of humorous parodies of popular children’s stories and fairy tales. This postmodern children’s book, written by Jon Scieszka and illustrated by Lane Smith, won the New York Times Best Illustrated Book Award. Scieszka and Smith started their collaboration with The True Story of the Three Little Pigs!, published by Viking in 1989, another imaginative re-telling of a popular tale. The Stinky Cheese Man is a picture book best suited for ages 6 and up.
The Giver by Lois Lowry
Published in 1993 by Houghton Mifflin, The Giver was written by Lois Lowry. Awarded the Newbery Medal in 1994 the book has sold more than 10 million copies. Set in a futuristic society that has eliminated pain by eradicating differences, the book has been challenged heavily throughout the years because of the content. First editions have a full number line and are one of the more recent highly-valued books in YA literature to collect. The Giver is credited as one of the most thought-provoking books for young people, and is good for readers ages 11 and up.
Catherine, called Birdy by Karen Cushman
Catherine, called Birdy, is a historical novel set in thirteenth-century England. The tale is told as entries from Catherine's diary as she describes her world, her dreams, and her frustrations over the limitations of being a young woman in the 1200s.
Published by Clarion Books in 1994, Birdy's tale won the Newbery Honor and Golden Kite Award in 1995.
The Watsons Go To Birmingham by Christopher Paul Curtis
Published by Delacorte Press, New York, in 1995, The Watsons Go To Birmingham is Christopher Paul Curtis’ debut novel. Based on true historical events, the story follows the Watson family as they travel from their home in Chicago through the segregated south to visit their grandmother in Birmingham. While on their visit they witness one of the most troubling moments in America’s history, the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing by the KKK which killed four young girls and injured 22 others. This book was awarded a Newbery Honor and was a Coretta Scott King honor book. Curtis also received the Newbery Medal and the Coretta Scott King Author award for his second book, Bud, Not Buddy, published in 2000. The Watsons Go To Birmingham is great for kids ages 9 or 10 and up.
Sam and the Tigers by Julius Lester
Published in 1996 by Dial Press, Sam and the Tigers: A New Telling of Little Black Sambo was written by Julius Lester, a professor, Civil Rights activist, photographer, and musician. It was illustrated by Jerry Pinkney, an award-winning artist who has illustrated over a hundred children’s books. Pinkney has received one Caldecott Award and five Caldecott honors, as well as five Coretta Scott King Awards. The original story, Little Black Sambo, was written and illustrated by Helen Bannerman and published in 1899. It was very popular in the first half of the 20th century but began to drop from schools and libraries after being challenged for its racist names and caricatures. This retelling, Sam and the Tigers, seeks to reclaim and redeem that story without the negative connotations of the original tale. Good for children ages 5 - 8, especially if they are named Sam, like all of the characters in the book.
Habibi by Naomi Shihab Nye
Habibi was published in 1997 by Simon & Schuster. The author, Naomi Shihab Nye, had been publishing poetry since her first collection, Different Ways to Pray: Poems in 1980. Habibi is about a 14-year-old girl who moves with her family from St. Louis to Palestine in the 1970s. The title is the Arab word for Beloved, and it was inspired by Nye’s own life, born to a Palestinian father and American mother in St. Louis. The story offers a captivating look at the complex and politically turbulent relations in the area of Israel and Palestine through the eyes of a young girl who feels like an outsider. It has won multiple awards, including ALA Best Book for Young Adults, and the Jane Addam’s Children’s Book award, which is given annually to a children’s book that promotes peace and social equality. A great read for ages 11 and older.
Holes by Louis Sachar
Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in 1998, Holes is a young adult novel written by Louis Sachar. Sacher is also known for his Wayside School series, began in 1978 with Sideways Stories from Wayside School. Holes is a young adult novel about a 14-year-old boy, Stanley Yelnats, who is sent to a juvenile detention camp after being falsely accused of theft. It won the 1998 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature and the 1999 Newbery Medal. It was also made into a Disney movie in 2003 starring Sigourney Weaver, Jon Voight, Patricia Arquette, Tim Blake Nelson, and Shia LaBeouf. Holes is a good read for ages 10 and up.
The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson
First published in the UK in 1999 by Macmillan, The Gruffalo, written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler, has sold more than 13 million copies. This cute and imaginative tale, borrowing from Chinese folklore, follows a mouse through the forest as he outwits predators. The mouse tells each animal that threatens him - the snake, the fox, the owl - that he is going to visit the ‘Gruffalo’ - a mix between a grizzly bear and a buffalo. When the mouse finally finds the fabled animal, he convinces the Gruffalo not to eat him because he is the scariest animal in the forest - which he proves by introducing the Gruffalo to each of his hunters who then shrink away in fright. A true 1999 first edition is nearly impossible to find and is noted in the collecting world for its rapid increase in value. At 700 words long, The Gruffalo’s target audience is readers age 3 through 7.
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.