My all-time favorite book? I can't name just one, but instead offer a series of books -- Betsy-Tacy by Maud Hart Lovelace. This charming series of books spans time from 1897 - 1917, and tells the story of the friendship of three girls in Mankato, Minnesota. When we first meet Betsy and Tacy, they are five years old. Betsy is extroverted and wants to be a writer. Tacy is shy and sweet-natured. They are soon joined on their childhood adventures by Tib, who is pragmatic and bright. Over the series of books (series order here), the girls go to high school, graduate, travel, find romance and marriage ... and generally enchant readers as they have since the books were first published in the 1940's and 1950's.
As a lifelong Maud Hart Lovelace fan, I believe that Betsy-Tacy fans are a different sort of reader. We are reminded of the books in many places. I have several items in my store that remind me of Betsy-Tacy.
This card has always reminded me of Carney's House Party:
The little girl in this postcard reminds me of Tib!
This Fabulous Century 1900 - 1910, and it is a wonderful reference about life in America during the years of my favorite books.
And of course there are the books themselves! Betsy and Tacy Go Downtown is perhaps my favorite book in the series, about the adventures the girls have as they go downtown together. I love the Lois Lenski illustration on this cover!
If you love vintage children's books, or if you know a young reader who would enjoy this series, I cannot recommend it highly enough. The books build over time, and it is important to read them chronologically. Betsy Tacy is the first book in the series. Here's a link to the first book, and you'll find more titles on the right side of this web page.