I have read several of Eleanor Estes’ books to my children, and they have loved every single one. So, instead of reviewing each of her books, I’m recommending all her books!
Estes (1906-1988) was a children’s librarian for many years before starting to write children’s books. She grew up in West Haven, Connecticut, which she renamed Cranbury for several of her books – the ones about the Moffats and the Pyes. Estes won several Newberry Honors, and the Newberry Medal for Ginger Pye.
When I read any one of her books, I always feel a bit nostalgic. Estes writes about children in a time before video games, before TV, before radio – don’t you wonder how they filled their time back then? Estes tells us how. I’m amazed at how she wrote book after book of gentle stories, of children solving problems on their own, children who spent time just sitting and thinking and telling each other stories. Children who have crazy ideas of starting museum in the barn, and then doing just that.
If you think these are idyllic stories, in one way they are because Estes writes from the children’s rather innocent perspective. On the other hand, she does not shy away from hard things. Mr. Pye travels a lot and doesn’t make much money, so the Pye children don’t spend a lot of time with their father, although they revere him. Mr. Moffat has died, leaving his wife with four children to raise – rambunctious children too! And in The Hundred Dresses, Peggy & Maddie learn a lesson about teasing a poor girl who wore the same dress to school every day, yet claiming she had a hundred dresses at home.
Although their situations are not ideal, the children live, love & learn from their experiences – and so do their readers. Eleanor Estes’ books are great for reading aloud as a family, or listening to on CD together in the car on long trips, or just rereading to yourself because they are that good.
Recommended for ages 4 and up.
Books by Eleanor Estes:
- The Moffats
- The Middle Moffat
- Rufus M.
- The Moffat Museum
- Ginger Pye
- Pinky Pye
- The Hundred Dresses