From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
Claudia decides to run away from home, inviting her little brother along (mostly because he's wisely saved all of his birthday and Christmas money for...practically forever). The travel to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, hiding in the bathrooms at opening and closing time, blending in with school groups, and sleeping in antique beds on display. Of course this probably wouldn't be as successful an idea in today's world of motion sensor alarms, but you have to remember that this book was published in 1967, when cell phones were props in science fiction movies.
I find that a lot of characters for young adult fiction are either static (they don't change at all) or they seem to undergo drastic personality changes, which I find unrealistic. People change bit by bit with few exceptions. Claudia's character changes gradually, as she slowly discovers the real reason behind her feelings of being unappreciated at home.
I'd give this book four stars. It's not necessarily one I read ever year, like I do with others. But I definitely recommend it to anyone who hasn't read it yet.
The Boxcar Children
The Alden children become orphans and they all believe that their grandfather (who is now their legal guardian) is a terribly mean man. So they decide to go off and live alone. They find an abandoned boxcar in the woods where they set up house. They go out and scrounge for their furniture and dishes. I won't give anything else away if you haven't read it. But these kids basically do all the things my sister and I pretended to do when we played house as children.
This is a feel good book. There's nothing too dangerous going on, you know...except for the kids living unsupervised in the woods (which you shouldn't try for yourself). They get a dog. There's a happy ending.
I'm going to give this one three stars, but only because it is a bit basic. Both in plot and in the complexity of the text. Its intended audience is grades 2-6, though don't let that stop you from reading it.
My Side of the Mountain
Sam can't stand the cramped life he leads with his large family in New York City. He learns that his grandfather owned an abandoned farm in the Catskill Mountains. So he begins to read up on wilderness survival skills. He doesn't really run away, because he tells his father where he's going. But the theme of running away is still there. Sam lives first in a camp, then in a hollowed out tree, making friends with a weasel and training a falcon. Along the way Sam makes friends with humans as well as the local animals, learning valuable lessons about himself and how to better survive on the mountain.
If you enjoyed Hatchet by Gary Paulsen, you'll like this book. Even if you didn't enjoy Hatchet, you'll probably find something to enjoy, whether it's Sam's struggle to escape his suffocating family or his growing repertoire of wilderness skills.
I'm going to give this book four stars. It may not be for everyone, but this book is definitely worth the time to sit down and at least start it.