Oh golly- I really enjoyed reading this thread!
Already mentioned, I have to second:
the Moomintrolls series of books- whimsical, delightful!
And the Jenny Linsky cat club books- very fun.

I wanted to suggest:
The Cay by Theodore Taylor- preteen book. About a boy who is shipwrecked and blinded- stranded with a sailor- book about survival and love. Good ending but some tragedy involved. I remember loving this book.