Monday, 4 October 2010

Children's Books Week

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!


  1. So many to choose from. Personal favs in no particular order. The Wind in The Willows, Danny - Champion of the World, The Eggbox Dinosaur and a little bit of poetry Captain Beaky volume 1.

  2. Oh I loved the Borrowers too!! Though my copies were in Dutch obviously lol Number 4 and 5 still sound really cool. And did your parents get you your own Shadow?

    I'll post my five tomorrow on my own blog :D

  3. These look like some great books for children, especially So You Want to Be a Wizard. Who doesn't want to be a wizard?

  4. You're the second person in a month who has recommended Swallows and Amazons - now I really must check it out!

    Five childhood favorites - The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (the first "big" book I ever read); any of the Chronicles of Narnia; Half Magic (I love anything by Edward Eager, but Half Magic was the first I ever read, and so holds a special place); The Secret Garden; Anne of Green Gables (which really is closer to being YA, but I read it as a kid, so it counts for me!).

  5. Wind In The Willows. Enchanting as a child, even more so as an adult. Firmly in the tradition of great English Nature writing and contains one of the most awe-inspiring moments of magic and wonder (The Piper at the GAtes of Dawn chapter) ever put down on the page in any genre for any age of reader.

  6. Swallows and Amazons for me too! Swallowdale and Peter Duck were my perosnal favorites.
    Chronicles of Narnia
    King of the Wind by Marguerite Henry
    The Black Stallion by Walter Farley
    Beautiful Joe by Marshall Saunders. Wonderful book. It like Black Beauty but with dogs instead. You are not human if you don't tear up.


  7. Alice in Wonderland/Through the Looking Glass - Lews Carroll
    Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Graeme
    The Twits - Roald Dahl
    Red Shift - Alan Garner

    I remember that I liked the Narnia stories a lot as a child, I wonder how I'd find them now...

    Re-read the Carroll and Graeme recently - still great. Couldn't decide for the Dahl/Garner stuff; as I recall it was all pretty good.



  8. I think the book I remember liking best as a child was Thore Hansen's "De Flygende Hvalers Land" ("Land of the Flying Whales"). I don't know if this is translated to English, if it isn't someone should do it.
    Other than that I loved "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" by Roald Dahl. "Ronja Røverdatter" ("Ronia the Robber's Daughter") by Astrid Lindgren.
    And I read "The Hardy Boys" books from the age of seven.
    All of these in Norwegian of course :-)

  9. You've inspired me. My top five is here:

  10. I loved Carbonel growing up - and the following two books. I haven't thought about those books for years but I used to re-read them continuously!

    I alse loved the Narnia books and the Island of Blue of Dolphins by Scott O'Dell.

  11. I used to love a series of books about a spaceship called Dragonfall Five and the adventures the family onboard. I also enjoyed the Borrowers, and there were some books by "BB" in my Library Called The Little Grey Men, and Brendon Chase which I found out were re-published recently.Also The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper,The Hobbit and the Famous Five... :D

  12. The Narnia books were a firm favourite, as were the Chalet School books by Elinor Brent Dyer, I also read probably the entire series of Andrew Lang's 'Colour' Fairy Tale books, and I would read anything about the Greek gods and Celtic legends. But books that stand out were The Silver Sword by Ian Serrallier, Rosemary Sutcliff's The Ninth Legion, and Carrie's War (can't remember who wrote it). I also loved The Water Babies, Five Children and It, Tom's Midnight Garden, The Secret Garden, Alice in Wonderland/Through the Looking Glass, A Little Princess, Charlotte Sometimes and Z for Zachariah. I also read all the Oz books, the Mary Poppins books and Anne of Green Gables series... I was a bookish child!

  13. Oh GUYS! You've just made my wishlist EXPLODE with all of the great suggestions for favourite children's reads. Thanks for all the comments :-)