Tuesday 8 December 2009

Won't somebody think about the children?

I left it a few days, to see what the final count would be, and Enid Blyton surges ahead of JK Rowling - last time I checked, it was 19 votes to 14, I think. That includes my vote, which went to Enid - without her, I'm not sure I'd be such a big fan of reading.

Congratulations, Ms. Blyton - and now I'm throwing the competition open. We've already had recommendations for E. Nesbit, and I'm keen to read more of her books, but now I'd like to know which children's books mean the most to you. Either growing up, or reading them to your own children and grandchildren. It would especially fun if they're a bit out of the ordinary. One I always remember is Albert the Dragon by Rosemary Weir, and its various sequels, illustrated by the always-delightful Quentin Blake. I don't know how old we were when this was read to us, but I've always remembered (in vague outline, of course) the friendship between Albert and the dragon. I suppose I should say I remember the feeling the books gave me, because in terms of plot I can only remember something vague about food turning into seaweed... Col? Mum? Dad? Am I remembering correctly?

A few years ago I bought one of the Albert books as a Mothering Sunday present for Mum (of course), and I wonder if it's still in the house... I might try and investigate when I go home for Christmas.

So, yes, favourite children's books, please, and why they mean so much to you...


  1. Oh my goodness where to start. One of the best things about having children is inflicting them with my favourites. Off the top of my head: All Enid Blyon (of course), The Chalet School books by Elinor M Brent Dyer, all the Nantucket books (Nightbirds on Nantucket etc) by Joan Aitken (wonderful adventure stories), all of Frances Hodgson Burnett Secret's books - the Secret Garden of course but also the Little Princess, the books by Julie Andrews (written under name Julie Edwards) about the little girl who finds an abandoned house (Mandy), all Rumer Godden (especially Miss Happiness and Miss Flower about the Japanese dolls)and finally Ant and Bee (have already obsessed about these on my blog). Can't wait to see what others people nominate. xoxo

  2. Oh my, quite a question. Laura Ingalls Wilder, Edward Eager (especially The Thyme Garden), the Mrs. Pigglewiggle books, My Father's Dragon and its sequel, no doubt countless others.

  3. Oh so many, but two of my most favourite books as a child were (still are) James Thurber's Many Moons and Dr Seuss's The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins.

  4. I recently tried to think of the most influential books in my early life and came up with the following sets of series without remembering specific titles: “Janet and John” “Topsy & Tim” “Thomas the Tank Engine”, various Enid Blyton (“The Rubadub Mystery” in particular) “The Bobbsey Twins” “Little House Books” “Hardy Boys” Nancy Drew” and “Doctor Dolittle”.

    Individual books I recall enjoying are One Hundred and One Dalmatians by Dodie Smith (I had a Dalmatian for a pet) and “Emil and the Detectives” by Erich Kastner.
    Part of Tolkien’s The Hobbit was read my class at school as was Lewis’s “The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe”. While I’ve never gone back and read The Hobbit, the Narnia series were recurring favourites even well into my teens. I also loved Alan Garners books – but I think I came across them later, maybe in my 20s. I don’t remember reading them as a child.

    This year I started to collect copies of some of the books from my childhood, including the first Bobbsey Twins book and a couple of Doctor Dolittles.

    An article I wrote about my childhood reading experience is here:

  5. E Nesbit has to be top of the list. A truly remarkable writer. All her books are great, but I particularly loved her House of Arden, about children who go back in time -- how desperately I wished I could do that! (still do, in fact). The Secret Garden -- I've re-read this so many times. Also Noel Streatfeild [sic] -- Ballet Shoes, and White Boots, both excellent.

  6. There are so many! One that came to my mind this morning is The Turf Cutters Donkey by Patricia Lynch.

  7. What a lovely co-incidence - I also wrote a blog about children's books last night :) My favourite childhood books, alongside Enid Blyton's books, were the wonder Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I am also creating my own children's book tbr pile after noticing that there was a big gap in my childhood reading.

  8. The Hobbit - first really long book I read (about 9 I think).

    Almost any book by Alan Garner - still great reading 40 years later!

    Some of the "Swallows and Amazon" books, even though I didn't get to the Lake District until I was almost adult. Probably Pigeon Post and Winter Holiday were my favourites.

    Jennie by Paul Gallico, a simply wonderful book with such unsentimental zoomorphic writing about my favourite animal.

    The Donkey Rustlers (G Durrell), loved the story and, like Yani, I probably fancied the golden-haired Amanda ...

    Any, and all, of Jansson's Moomintroll books.

    And, finally, like Claire, I was very fond of The Cat in the Hat and The Cat in the Hat Comes Back.

  9. Difficult to single out one favourite so here are a few;

    All the "Church Mice" books.

    All the Mrs Pepperpot books
    (translated from the Swedish).

    A.A. Milne's stories.

    "The Wind in the Willows"

  10. Charlotte's Web. Little Women. Anne of Green Gables. Laura Ingalls stories. Countless..

  11. I was constantly reading and re-reading fairy tales of all kinds.

  12. I mostly read "adventure novels" (how do you call these in English ?) like "Around the world in 80 days" by Jules Verne, all the E. Blyton ("The famous five" serie), and the Nancy Drew serie.

    Shelby : I recently read "Charlotte's web" - good book.


  13. Cynthia Harnett
    Rosemary Sutcliff
    Phillippa Pearce
    Henry Treece
    Elinor M Brent Dyer
    Louisa May Alcott
    an Seraillier
    Joan Aiken
    Heidi & sequels written by transalator Charles Tritten

    and a book called "Annuzza, girl of Rumania" that my grandparents gave me for Christmas.

    How I love line-drawing illustrations - just enough to give you a way in to that other world without "colouring it in " too much. Just a door that you step through and complete in your mind.

  14. Ooooh what a tricky one! For me it has to start with The Worst Witch series by Jill Murphy, utterly adored those books. There was the natural Narnia and Blyton book loving, I would also recommend The Whitby Witches by Robin Jarvis (possibly why I love the Brenda and Effie series even more by Paul Magrs) all of them were magical escapism!

  15. I adored 'Gobbolino, the Witch's Cat' by Ursula Moray Williams when I was very small. Later, anything and everything by L. M. Montgomery - a writer who remains, I think, an inspiration to little girls around the world with vivid imaginations! What else? 'Alice in Wonderland' and 'Through the Looking Glass', all the dance-related books by Noel Streatfield.

    Glad to see 'Mrs. Pepperpot' on the list too!

    Oh, and of course Enid Blyton wins over JK Rowling!

  16. No wonder your preference for enid Blyton is ahead of J.K. Rowling, which explains why I decided to write a book on her, titled, The Famous Five: A Personal Anecdotage (www.bbotw.com).

    Stephen Isabirye

  17. I have never heard of Enid...

    My childhood favorite was Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh.

    If I hadn't waited until I was in my 30s to read them, no doubt, Heidi and The Secret Garden would be on that list as well.

  18. Like Thomas, I loved Harriet the Spy. Also The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster and E.L. Konigsburg's From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. And once I read The Wind in the Willows (at about 30) I was hooked.

  19. When I was very small, my grandmother used to read to me in bed every morning while my mother was getting my father's breakfast. The book was either called "Wid Wad Woo" or had the first line "Wid Wad Woo was a kangaroo". As a result of hearing that every morning I could read before I went to school. I only wish I could find a copy of it again. I suspect most of your readers are much too young to have come across it, but if anyone does know the author &/or title, I'd love to know. This was in the '40s.

    1. After all this while I expect you've tracked down the book, butjust in case..... It is indeed called "Wid Wad Woo", by Stella Mead, published by Amex C.1946, and features beautiful big illustrations in colour by Eulalie. Good luck with your search!

    2. Yes I remember it as mum used to read it to me and I loved it. I can't find the book but it went like this to begin with. "Once there was a kangaroo who was called by the name of Widwadwoo...from the day he was born till the day he was six, he was up to all manner of mischief and tricks."

    3. bluejellytree201218 December 2013 at 15:20

      Just in case you are still interested - I have just listed this book on ebay

    4. I would really like to obtain a copy of Wid Wad Woo, my favourite book as a young child. I think I identified with his naughty deeds, and appreciated his ever-forgiving mother! A reprint would get a good market response.

  20. My first favourite books were Wind in the Willows, Pooh and then Paddington. One of my earliest memories was a wonderful dramatised version of WitW on records (yes, those old skool black vinyl numbers, I know, I'm decrepit).

    Then Harriet the Spy - I read it a million times.

    When I had my children, the one picture book I really wanted them to love was Where the Wild Things Are, which was one of my very favourite books when I started reading for myself.I also loved the Ladybird Fairy Tales at that stage.

    I'm teaching Wind in the Willows this year...no bells and whistles, just reading, discussion and a journal from the students. It's wonderfully evocative and rich and magical.

  21. Simon - this is an impossible question!! It is worthy of a post and I may well do one over on Random. As always you inspire me to do this and thank you (I shall link back to you of course)

    Mark you Enid blyton will feature largely

  22. I loved the Ladybird books, from Cinderella to the Lives of the Great Artists. The illustrations for the editions published in the 1970s/80s were beautiful. Another favourite was the enchanting Swedish Folk Tales illustrated by John Bauer. And of course I was obsessed with the Narnia books and Blyton's The Magic Faraway Tree.

  23. Anne of Green Gables and everything else L.M. Montgomery. Also The Baby-sitters Club series. Lots of Judy Blume and Beverley Cleary. And a book called Baby Island about two young sisters and a bunch of babies as sole survivors of a shipwreck. Hmm, hven't thought of that book in ages.

  24. I have a long, long list, too...but I'll stick with one that might be a bit out of the ordinary: Corduroy by Don Freeman. I loved the idea of the bear waiting to be bought and, for some reason, was fascinated when they repaired his button.

  25. Oh no, this just reminds me of Albi the Racist Dragon... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g9Qu3iP3RYA

  26. Mel - thank you for that link to Albi!

  27. Most of them have been listed in other comments so I'll just add the Mary Poppins books by P.L.Travers which I loved and read over and over.

  28. to the person enquiring about Wid wad woo, I had that book as a child and all I know is the first line that went something like this. "Once there was a kangaroo, who was called by the name of Widwadwoo...from the day he was born till the day he was six, he was up to all manner of mischief and tricks." Does anyone out there know any more? June


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