A Series of Unfortunate Events series by Lemony Snicket
About: A Series of Unfortunate Events is a series of thirteen children's novels by Lemony Snicket (the pen name of American author Daniel Handler), which follows the turbulent lives of Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire after their parents' death in a fire. The children are placed in the custody of a murderous relative, Count Olaf, who attempts to steal their inheritance and, later, orchestrates numerous disasters with the help of his accomplices as the children attempt to flee their clutches.
Coraline by Neil Gaiman
About: Coraline's often wondered what's behind the locked door in the drawing room. It reveals only a brick wall when she finally opens it, but when she tries again later, a passageway mysteriously appears. Coraline is surprised to find a flat decorated exactly like her own, but strangely different. And when she finds her "other" parents in this alternate world, they are much more interesting despite their creepy black button eyes. When they make it clear, however, that they want to make her theirs forever, Coraline begins a nightmarish game to rescue her real parents and three children imprisoned in a mirror. With only a bored-through stone and an aloof cat to help, Coraline confronts this harrowing task of escaping these monstrous creatures.
Gaiman has delivered a wonderfully chilling novel, subtle yet intense on many levels. The line between pleasant and horrible is often blurred until what's what becomes suddenly clear, and like Coraline, we resist leaving this strange world until we're hooked. Unnerving drawings also cast a dark shadow over the book's eerie atmosphere, which is only heightened by simple, hair-raising text. Coraline is otherworldly storytelling at its best.
The Mary Poppins series by P. L. Travers
About: Mary Poppins is a series of eight children's books written by P. L. Travers and published over the period 1934 to 1988. Mary Shepard was the illustrator throughout the series. The books centre on magical English nanny Mary Poppins. She is blown by the East wind to Number 17 Cherry Tree Lane, London, and into the Banks's household to care for their children. Encounters with pavement-painters and shopkeepers and various adventures follow until Mary Poppins abruptly leaves—i.e., "pops-out". Only the first three of the eight books feature Mary Poppins arriving and leaving. The later five books recount previously unrecorded adventures from her original three visits. As P. L. Travers explains in her introduction to Mary Poppins in the Park, "She cannot forever arrive and depart."
The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
About: Hailed as “a classic. . . . humorous, full of warmth and real invention” (The New Yorker), this beloved story -first published more than fifty years ago- introduces readers to Milo and his adventures in the Lands Beyond.
For Milo, everything’s a bore. When a tollbooth mysteriously appears in his room, he drives through only because he’s got nothing better to do. But on the other side, things seem different. Milo visits the Island of Conclusions (you get there by jumping), learns about time from a ticking watchdog named Tock, and even embarks on a quest to rescue Rhyme and Reason! Somewhere along the way, Milo realizes something astonishing. Life is far from dull. In fact, it’s exciting beyond his wildest dreams....
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor
About: Why is the land so important to Cassie's family? It takes the events of one turbulent year—the year of the night riders and the burnings, the year a white girl humiliates Cassie in public simply because she's black—to show Cassie that having a place of their own is the Logan family's lifeblood. It is the land that gives the Logans their courage and pride—no matter how others may degrade them, the Logans possess something no one can take away.