CCLE - Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle by Betty MacDonald (1947)
I LOVED it. You have this dear older widow woman who befriends pretty much every child in her small town, invites them into her upside-down house (the chandeliers are on the floor, etc.) and just lets them play and be creative. Eventually word gets out that Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle knows children, so whenever children in the town start to rebel, inevitably the parents seek out Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle for her "cures." Like the little boy who doesn't like to clean his room; she just advises them to let the mess get so big that he can't get out of his room and starts missing out on adventures with his friends. He'll have no choice but to clean his space. And the once sweet little girl who starts back-talking like crazy, so Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle loans the family her parrot who is the queen of back-talk and shows the child just how nasty the habit is. You've got the radish cure for the little girl who refuses to bathe and whose parents plant radishes in the accumulating dirt on her skin one night, and the children who don't want to go to bed on time so the parents let them stay up as late as they want without saying a word until the children are so exhausted and crabby they beg to go to bed on time.
The book is organized a little like the Mary Poppins books, but if I were to choose a favorite between the two, it would be Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle hands-down. She's a charming, delightful woman whose love of children and her neighbors is absolutely genuine. The lessons learned are all valuable since they address bad habits, and this first book in the series has "practical" cures instead of magic cures like in the later books. I'm not sure that I'll read any farther in the series, but I highly recommend the first Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle as a delightful read for your little ones, especially read out-loud for story time once chapter at a time!
Read for the Children's Classic Literature Event hosted by Amanda at Simpler Pastimes!