Five Children’s Books

I am of the mind that many children’s books appeal just as much to adults as to their intended audiences.  Below are five books I would recommend to any child, and to the adult reader yearning to reconnect with their own childhoods.


‘The Borrowers’ by Mary Norton

1. The Borrowers – Mary Norton
The Borrowers
tells the story of a family of little people – the ‘borrowers’ of the novel’s title – as they face the threats and cruelty of the humans around them. The borrowers are all delightfully endearing in their own ways, and the way in which they use human tools to aid their own lives is just lovely.  If you enjoy The Borrowers, I am pleased to let you know that there are several more books in the series, each just as wonderful and exciting as the first.

2. Charlotte’s Web E.B. White
I read this for the first time a couple of months ago whilst travelling down to London to see the marvellous play version of ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’.  Whilst I normally pick something a little more grown up to take with me on journeys, it was the only book on my to-read shelf which was small enough to fit into my satchel along with the many other items I had to transport with me.  Charlotte’s Web is an adorable story, even for an arachnophobe like me.  Wilbur the pig is the most endearing, but every single character, however small their appearance, plays some importance in the grand scheme of things.

3. Pippi Longstocking – Astrid Lindgren
I was trying to shy away from using already popular books in this list, but I couldn’t help putting Pippi Longstocking in.  Pippi – full name Pippilotta Delicatessa Windowshade Mackrelmint Ephraim’s Daughter Longstocking, or Pippilotta Viktualia Rullgardina Krusmynta Efraimsdotter Långstrump in Swedish – is one of my absolute favourite protagonists, and the adventures she gets up to are full of wonder and imagination.

The Nix Family from 'The It-Doesn't-Matter Suit' by Sylvia Plath

The Nix Family from ‘The It-Doesn’t-Matter Suit’ by Sylvia Plath

4. The It-Doesn’t-Matter Suit – Sylvia PlathFew people know that Plath wrote children’s books alongside The Bell Jar and her poetry, but she did.  All of her children’s stories are delightful, but The It-Doesn’t-Matter Suit is particularly charming.  It tells the story of young Max Nix, who is searching for the perfect outfit.  Plath’s writing is both simplistic and lovely, and the illustrations throughout are just gorgeous.

5. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang – Ian Fleming
Suffice to say, Fleming’s Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is so much better than the film which many of us watched at some point during our childhoods.  The story is simple but well crafted, and there is no creepy child catcher in sight.


Sunday Snapshot: Christmas Reads

Although I am scheduling this post rather far in advance, Christmas will be almost here by the time this is posted, so I thought it would be a good idea to post a list of marvellous Christmas reads.  All of these are ones which I have very much enjoyed, and which I will be sure to be re-reading this year.

1. Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan *****
2. How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr Seuss *****
3. Letters from Father Christmas by J.R.R. Tolkien ****
4. The Jolly Christmas Postman by Janet Ahlberg *****
5. The Book of Christmas by Jane Struthers ****
6. Dickens at Christmas ****
7. The Virago Book of Christmas, edited by Michelle Lovric *****
8. Christmas at Cold Comfort Farm and Other Stories by Stella Gibbons ****
9. A Child’s Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas ****
10. Madeline’s Christmas by Ludwig Bemelmans *****


Sunday Snapshot: Wintry Reads

Another Sunday snapshot which focuses upon some wonderful wintry reads.  Below are ten books, all set in winter or featuring wintry words in their titles, which I’ve read and very much enjoyed.

'Moominland Midwinter' by Tove Jansson

‘Moominland Midwinter’ by Tove Jansson

1. Moominland Midwinter by Tove Jansson *****
2. Winter Story by Jill Barklem *****
3. A Winter Book by Tove Jansson *****
4. The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis *****
5. Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton ****
6. Winter Trees by Sylvia Plath *****
7. The Snowman by Raymond Briggs *****
8. Mr Snow by Roger Hargreaves ****
9. Blood Red, Snow White by Marcus Sedgwick ***
10. Names for the Sea: Strangers in Iceland by Sarah Moss ****


Best Books on the North

I like to theme my reading around the seasons as far as I can, and what better thing to post in the run-up to Christmas than a list of best books set in the wintry north?  The first five are books which I have very much enjoyed and would highly recommend, and the last five are those which are high on my wishlist.

1. The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen ***** (Various parts of Scandinavia)
2. The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey ***** (Alaska)
3. Naive. Super by Erlend Loe ***** (Norway)
4. The Winter Book by Tove Jansson ***** (Finland)
5. The Siege by Helen Dunmore **** (Russia)

6. The Red Scarf by Kate Furnivall (Siberia)
7. With the Lapps in the High Mountains: A Woman Among the Sami, 1907-1908 by Emilie Demant Hatt (Northern Sweden)
8. Resurrection by Leo Tolstoy (Siberia)
9. Victoria by Knut Hamsun (Norway)
10. The Crow-Girl: The Children of Crow Cove by Bodil Bredsdorff (Denmark)

Which are your favourite books set in the north?


Sunday Snapshot: Poetry Collections

Today’s Sunday Snapshot focuses upon ten poetry collections, chosen for their marvellous titles alone.

1. there is something I can’t remember about the clouds – Sjón (1991)
2. A Man in the Divided Sea – Thomas Merton (1946)
3. From Snow to Snow – Robert Frost (1936)
4. Les fleurs du mal – Charles Baudelaire (1857)
5. Owl’s Clover – Wallace Stevens (1936)
6. Sad Dust Glories – Allen Ginsberg (1975)
7. The Museum of Lost Wings – Renee Ashley (2006)
8. Tulips and Chimneys – e.e. cummings (1923)
9. Winter Trees – Sylvia Plath (1971)
10. Wolfwatching – Ted Hughes (1989)


Sunday Snapshot: Childhood Favourites (#5-#1)

The final part of my childhood favourites countdown is here at last.  Below are five books which had a profound impact on me as a child, causing me to be incredibly bookish far into my adulthood.  I feel that no explanation is needed for the following.  They are merely sumptuous stories set at different times and in different places, with enchanting and wonderful characters, which I absolutely adore.

5. The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

4. Bedknobs and Broomsticks by Mary Norton

3. Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie

2. Goodnight Mister Tom by Michelle Magorian

1. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett


Sunday Snapshot: Childhood Favourites (#10-#6)

10. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
Quirky, fun and beautifully illustrated, especially the Tove Jansson edition.  I love the book so much that I have three separate copies of it.

9. Old Bear by Jane Hissey
I used to adore these tales, and would read them with my Mum on a regular basis.  The ITV adaptation of the stories was absolutely charming.

8. Matilda by Roald Dahl
What’s not to like about a story of a wonderfully bookish and intelligent little girl who finds happiness?  Absolutely lovely.

7. The Folk of the Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton
I’ve yet to meet anyone who hasn’t enjoyed the Faraway Tree stories, and this is a particularly great collection.  I adore the way in which the new lands come to the top of the tree, and the adventures which ensue along the way.

6. The Jolly Postman, Or Other People’s Letters by Janet Ahlberg
This book and its sequels kept me amused for hours.  It is presented in such an exciting, lovely format.