Shirley Masengill was a vital part of the Laurel Book Store and bookselling in general in the Bay Area. Through her more than 50 year career she worked at a great number of stores and made her mark on each as well as on a huge swath of readers and teachers.
She was opinionated, had high standards for books for children, and was passionate about the books she loved and wanted to share them with not every kid but just the right kid for the right book.
She loved and admired teachers. She would go out of her way to make sure a teacher knew about her latest find and did not approve of scripted curriculums or the decline of free reading time.
She loved mysteries, but maintained that most mystery writers couldn't write well, however they could tell a good story. There were, of course, exceptions.
A gin martini was her drink of choice and she loved finding new restaurants. A good one would have a full bar and excellent bartender.
She never learned to drive but managed to get wherever she wanted and traveled the world, mostly for children's literature conferences.
She would swear like a sailor and laugh readily. She gauged people on whether they were a giver or not. Her highest praise was that someone was "a good girl."
Some time ago she began compiling lists of her favorite books and authors and we lovingly present them here for your pleasure.
They're split into rough categories, but you'll find that they really are the can't fail books that belong in your library.