Our last list (or non-list) focused on books for those who enjoy lots of pictures with their text, who are frequently found to be between the ages of very very small and about 8 or 9 (however, these age descriptions are pretty loose: we both enjoy lots of pictures with our text, and are both significantly outside that age bracket). In this post, we’re going to take a crack at some of our favourite novels. We say “some,” as naturally there’s no way we could ever make a complete list of our favourites (as I doubt anyone could–how would such a list be finished during one’s lifetime?), and even the titles we’ve compiled thus far are far too numerous to fit into one post–but it’s a starting place.
As before, we shall begin at the beginning, with some of the glorious novels we enjoyed as children:
- Here Comes Charlie Moon – Shirley Hughes. We know, we know–Shirley Hughes again. But can you really blame us? What could be better than a seaside mystery, with sweets, disguises, eccentrics, a perilous waxworks, and a hall of mirrors; never precious or cloying, this is a glorious adventure story that bears endless rereading.
- The Little White Horse – Elizabeth Goudge. A shimmering wonder of a tale, it sparkles like moonlight on the sea, and glows as brightly as a hearth fire.
- The Princess and the Goblin – George McDonald. Immerse yourself in the the world of courageous Irene, stalwart Curdie, and Irene’s mysterious and beautiful many times great grandmother.
- The Secret of Platform 13 – Eva Ibbotson. Ever wonder where J.K. got the inspiration for her magical doorway? Look no further.
- Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome. The book that launched a thousand log rafts…not to mention at least one summer of sleeping in the backyard every night. No childhood should be without it and its splendid companions.
- Half Magic – Edward Eager. What would you do if you found a magic coin…but it only granted half wishes?
- Pippi Longstocking – Astrid Lindgren. Naturally.
- Ronia, the Robber’s Daughter – Astrid Lindgren. Ronia’s strength, courage and wisdom were an inspiration to both my daughters. A perfect book to read outside (if you happen to live near a forested glade or magic wood, so much the better). ~F
- Jennifer Murdley’s Toad, by Bruce Coville. An unexpected treasure that has stayed with me to this day. ~M
- Nicobobinus – Terry Jones. Land of dragons, pirate monks, and a boy who can do anything (just ask his friend Rosie)…Nicobobinus is a childhood treasure.
- The Saga of Erik the Viking – Terry Jones. With little or nothing in common with the film of the same name, this book (and the one above) was a read-aloud staple in our house for years; an excellent introduction to Viking and Norse lore, it makes the mythical seem possible. ~F
- And while we’re on the subject of melding history and magic…The House of Arden, by the inimitable E. Nesbit, does this to perfection. Elfrida and Edred Arden meet a magical Mouldiwarp, who takes them on a fantastic adventure through English history. ~F
- The Phantom Tollbooth – Norton Juster. My sister and I went through the tollbooth countless times during our childhood, and on every journey discovered something new and magical about the fantastical world of language and mathematics. (who knew math could be hilarious?) ~M
- The Van Gogh Cafe – Cynthia Rylant. A perfect gem of a book, I still carry a copy in my bag, for those days when I need a little gentle wisdom, or to be reminded of the beauty and wonder in the everyday. ~M
To be continued…again (and again, and again.)