This week we celebrate Children's Books Week, and I thought I would show you five of the children's books that had a massive impact on my reading as a child. I've previously mentioned Roald Dahl on this blog, and also The Silver Brumby by Elyne Mitchell, so here are five new books!
1) Shadow the Sheepdog by Enid Blyton
This is one of the lesser-known Enid Blyton stories, and follows a small sheepdog puppy as he grows into life on a farm. It is told in an anecdotal manner, and from the point of view of Shadow, showing the values of honesty and family coming first. When I was seven, I loved this book to death and begged my parents for my own Shadow. The book doesn't shy away from showing hardship, loneliness and bullying, but gives the usual Blyton happy ending.
2) The Borrowers by Mary Norton
This is a most beloved children's book, concerning the tale of Pod and Homily Clock, and their daughter Arrietty - tiny creatures known as Borrowers, who live amongst "human beans" and 'borrow' items such as needles, thimbles, crumbs of food and fibres from doormats. Arrietty is encouraged to go borrowing with her father and ends up meeting and making friends with a human boy. This is a wonderful story, with just incredible details and a warm heart at its core. I read this and the others in the series umpteen times as a child, and always desperately longed to make a Borrower friend of my own!
3) Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome
The story follows the Walker children (John, Susan, Titty and Roger), who sail a borrowed dinghy named Swallow, and the Blackett children (Nancy and Peggy), who sail a dinghy named Amazon. The Walkers are staying at a farm near a lake during the school holidays and want to camp on an island in the lake; the Blacketts live in a house nearby. The children meet on the island which they call Wild Cat Island, and have a series of adventures, involving sailing, camping, fishing, exploration and piracy.I loved the idea of children being left to camp alone on Wild Cat Island, and the food was definitely in the mould of Enid Blyton - tinned meat and lashings of ginger beer and lemonade!
4) Carbonel by Barbara Sleigh
The plot concerns a girl named Rosemary who buys a broom and a cat from an untidy woman in the marketplace. When the cat starts talking to her she learns that she has encountered a witch, selling up to start a new career. Moreover, the cat, Carbonel, just happens to be King of the Cats, presumed missing by his subjects ever since the witch Mrs. Cantrip abducted him. Unfortunately he can't return to his throne until the enslavement spell Mrs. Cantrip cast on him is undone, so Rosemary, together with her friend John, have to learn a little witchcraft and to track down Mrs. Cantrip for her at best ambivalent help. Well! The idea of any animal being able to talk to me was something I imagined constantly as a child - and Carbonel is just a fabulous character, haughty and affectionate by turn, just like a cat. Rosemary and John are likeable children, and there is adventure galore.
5) So You Want To Be A Wizard by Diane Duane
Nita Callahan, taking refuge in the library from bullies, checks out a book found in the children's section with the provocative title So You Want To Be a Wizard. On the way home, the bullies corner her, beat her up, and take a space pen given to her by her uncle. Before Nita goes to sleep, she takes the Wizard's Oath. The next morning she looks at her manual and sees her name in the wizards list. This book flirts with being a Young Adult title, concerning, as it does, teenagers learning who they could become, but I decided to put it on my list because it was one I read as a child and enjoyed thoroughly. The concept, for me, was everything - imagine learning that wizardry exists through a book from the library! Personally, I haunted the library for a while hoping that it would really happen to me - the things we do as children *blush*
Anyway, those are five of the books that had a huge impact on me, and kept me reading - how about you? Tell me your most beloved books from childhood!
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