There are many, many children's books I love. Books I loved as a kid, books I love as a parent. But the hands-down winner has to be this book, Sugar Mouse Cake by Gene Zion and Margaret Bloy Graham. It's the story of a lonely and under-appreciated pastry cook named Tom and his beloved companion, the mouse Tina. It has it all -- suspense, near-tragedy, and a happy ending...and lots and lots of cakes.
I never owned this as a child, I checked it out regularly at our library and read it in the library probably every week I didn't check it out. I always remembered how much I loved it, and years ago (pre-ebay) I was in a specialty book store and asked if they ever got it. The shop owner told me that he could put me on the waiting list...but it would be 5 or 6 years before my name got to the top, and I could expect to pay several hundred dollars for it when I got the chance. That's when I found out how many other people loved this book!! Sadly, it has never been reprinted even though the authors are very well-known and most of their other books remain in print. Luckily for me, we eventually found a reasonably priced reading copy on ebay; and then Evan found an even nicer copy for me as a present which we have shelved out of reach. Someday, I dream of finding a perfect copy (no library marks!) at a price I can afford...not likely, but in the meantime, I have perfectly readable copies for Emily and myself.