‘Amy’s Three Best Things,’ by Philippa Pearce, illustrated by Helen Craig

December 31, 2013

British author Philippa Pearce, who died in 2006, left a legacy of more than 30 books for children of all ages. Recipient of the Carnegie Medal, the Whitbread Award and an OBE for services to children’s literature, she is nevertheless not as well known in the United States as she deserves to be. Let this newly illustrated edition of her 2003 classic picture book, “Amy’s Three Best Things,” serve as an introduction. Despite never having been away from home alone, Amy matter-of-factly announces one day that she wants to visit her grandmother: “I’d like to go all by myself, and I’d like to stay the night.” After her bravado rapidly extends the visit from one to two to three nights, she packs up her trusty teddy, her pajamas and three mysterious objects — her “best things” — and bravely embarks on her adventure. With more than a touch of magic, those three things help her through sudden bouts of nighttime loneliness. Helen Craig (illustrator of the perennially popular Angelina Ballerina series) couches the fantasy in sturdy down-to-earth illustrations of a thatch-haired youngster, a comfy cardigan-clad Grandma and a tidy landscape of houses snuggled around the village green. And while there’s a moment of genuine anguish, the final scene of Amy astride a carousel dragon is the perfect ending to this gentle story about growing up and growing brave. “Around and around went the merry-go-round . . . and sometimes she saw her family and sometimes she didn’t. But they were always there.”

Kristi Elle Jemtegaard

AMY’S THREE BEST THINGS

By Philippa Pearce

Illustrated by Helen Craig


“Amy’s Three Best Things” by Philippa Pearce and Helen Craig. (Candlewick)

Candlewick. $15.99. Ages 3-5

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