Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Top Ten Tuesday: Childhood Favourites

Okay, I'm starting a new feature on Tuesdays going forwards - it is a lovely little meme started over at The Broke and The Bookish. Since I am just beginning the Top Ten Tuesday, I will go right back to the beginning of their list and start with my Top Ten Childhood Favourites. I would love you to join in - with them and with me - so it would be great for you to post yours as well, but please send credits and love to The Broke and The Bookish if you do!

Top Ten Childhood Favourites

1) Shadow the Sheepdog - Enid Blyton

This first one is a story about a young boy and his dog, Shadow - their adventures and friendship. I loved this one because it is a very simple story, but showcases a clever and brilliantly-characterised animal in the tradition of tales such as Lassie. I read and re-read my dog-eared copy of this little book and wished that I had a dog like Shadow. Unlike most of Enid Blyton's work, this one courts little controversy and gives a great deal of pleasure.

2) Matilda - Roald Dahl

I simply couldn't have a top ten list of childhood favourites without including one Dahl book and, of them all, this is the one I came back to the most. I adored the character of Matilda, the bright little girl who read too much and made friends with a teacher. I could see a lot of myself in Matilda, although, luckily, my family are MUCH nicer and definitely appreciate reading! Also, the cake scene. So funny.

3) The Silver Brumby - Elyne Mitchell

I've mentioned this one a few times before on the blog. I ADORE this book. It tells the story of Thowra, the beautiful and unusual silver brumby who grows to adulthood in the lovely surroundings of the Australian bush. I was most disappointed to find out that, in reality, brumbies are scrubby little wild horses - in my head, they'll always be flowing grace. Thowra's adventures, his trials and successes against both man and horse, are a great way of introducing children to wild nature.

4) Night of the Red Horse - Patricia Leitch

This is the fourth book of twelve in the series about Jinny and her chestnut Arab mare, Shantih. I love all twelve books to death, but this fourth one was wonderfully mystical as well. The Red Horse is a strange and terrifying character. I ended up having nightmares as a result of this book, but can't help returning to it again and again.

5) Room 13 - Robert Swindells

You want a decent vampire story for kids? This'll be the one. I can't believe that more people haven't read this book, in all honesty! It's funny, scary and leaves a lasting impression. Swindells writes with great pace and humour, and both my brother and I called this our favourite book at times during our childhood.

6) The Animals of Farthing Wood - Colin Dann

For me, this is a lovely little book. It describes the adventures of a disparate group of animals who set out to find a new home - the faraway Reserve - when their own woodland is in danger from redevelopers. It is a great commentary on the various effects that humans are having on the countryside around them, and has some great and very memorable characters.

7) In the Fifth at Malory Towers - Enid Blyton

Another on the list by Blyton, but, truly, she coloured my reading as a child. I devoured her books. Had this been a longer list than just ten, you would have seen plenty more of her books on it! I simply can't understand the reaction to Blyton these days - sure, some of her stories include what we deem to be rather racist references these days, but they were written as a product of her time and should be read as such. At their heart, her books are excellent tales for children. This one is the fifth in the Malory Towers series. As with the Patricia Leitch series, I do love them all, but this is the one I read the most, so onto the list it goes. In this book the girls of Malory Towers have to put on a play and I liked the descriptions of how they produced it all.

8) Mattimeo - Brian Jacques

I was absolutely devastated earlier this year to discover that Brian Jacques had passed away. His Redwall series is just brilliant, and Mattimeo was my absolute favourite of the early books. The descriptions of the feasts still stays with me - how on earth did that man make me want to eat everything he described, even when it was made of acorns and clover?!

9) Deep Wizardry - Diane Duane

This is the second in the Young Wizards series, and was the novel where I became properly invested - and it's all thanks to a shark. The shark character is just fantastic - dark and deadly, but with a surprising amount of compassion. If you're not reading the Young Wizards series, I would urge you to start. These books are deeply imaginative, funny, dark and fantastically written. I think they're enormously under-read.

10) Watership Down - Richard Adams

When the top 100 best beloved books were picked, I voted for this one of them all. I love it. I named Bigwig as my favourite character of all time in the 30 Days of Genre meme. I like everything about it - the journey to the new warren, the fight against General Woundwort, strange Fiver and his prophecies, the dog, and BIGWIG! It's so much fun, and, as with The Animals of Farthing Wood, has a lot to say about our treatment of the English countryside.

So those are my ten childhood favourites! Which of mine have you read and loved? Which books would find their way onto your top ten list?


  1. The Mad Scientists' Club By Bertrand R. Brinley. Boys inventing thing and having adventures--great fun.

  2. Oh I loved the Jinny books, I so wanted to be her. I picked up a few in a charity shop a few years ago and they're just as good now. I do remember them being quite scary at times!

  3. I loved reading Enid Bylton as a kid as well - although I preferred the The Secret Island and Valley of Adventure series!

    Watership remains my favourite book of all time as well - I saw the film first and was enchanted. Then I read the book and knew it was fantastic - I still try to re-read it once a year when I can.

    My other favourite was The Island of Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell about a girl surviving on an island on her own...I used to borrow that from the library continuously!