I really like the kid's book 'because of winn dixie.' It's coming out in a movie, but as a book about a lonely little girl and a mangy mutt, it's really good.
My fav kid's book would be Suess' oh the places you will go. I'm hard pressed to pick a fav juvenile book. I suppose the Potter books.
My personal fav would be 'the world according to Garp.' A Prayer for Owen Meany is, imo, Irving's best, though most would probably say Cider House Rules. Close behind Garp, I'd put A Son of the Circus. I reread that one last year, and I might like it even more than Garp. Hey, a dwarf getting tossed up in the air at a circus and landing in a woman's 'nether' regions, and a serial killer with a homosexaul Indian movie star, is hard to beet for comedy.
Dicken's our mutual friend was great
Elmore Leonard is the master. .... Get Shorty, I guess. I liked Tishimongo Blues, but that's cause its set in my neck of the woods
IMO James Lee Burke writes rings around Leonard. I like his Billy Bob Holland character more than Robeachaux. Cimmeron Rose would be my fav, though the latest IN the Moon of Red Ponies is nice. In the Mist with Confederate Dead is pretty strong too, imo.
But, if you like the genre, it's impossible not to mention Chandler's The Long Goodbye, which was preceeded by Hammett (The Glass Key is prolly his best) and the granddaddy, James M. Cain's The Postman Always Rings Twice.
For those who like Sandford and Connely and Coben - Robert Crais in is the same league.