I didn’t do a #sixforsunday last week because honestly there was such a cross over with what I had planned for this week that I felt it would be a bit read, blog, repeat. I have always been a voracious reader and that started when I was very young so having to narrow down just 6 books from my childhood has been tough – I’m just glad I was an adult when Harry Potter came out because that helps to narrow it down at least! I’ve tried to give a spectrum of primary school through to teen, I expect a couple of them will show my age! I’ve also managed to track down the covers I had 😀
Tottie: The Story of a Doll’s house by Rumer Godden
Whilst originally published in the late 1940’s this book came to my attention in the early 80’s when it was adapted by the BBC for Children’s hour (yup I only got an hour of kids based tv fun each day!) I quickly sought it out from the school library and recently picked up a copy for my daughter, although I think it’s by now showing it’s age. It does though still hold up remarkably well in my view. Focusing on a group of old and well loved dolls who move out of a shoe box and into a fine Victorian doll house. It deals with quite a broad range of issues from bullying and jealousy to inclusion and class heirarchy, caused when an upmarket china doll moves in. It’s gorgeously written and utterly charming in an old school way.
The Worst Witch by Jill Murphy
As popular now as it ever was, The Worst Witch seems to be completely timeless. It was a book bought for me by my nan, I then picked up on the others at the school book fair and they were probably my most re-read books on my shelf. At a time when witchy boarding schools were not as popular as they are now, I loved everything about Mildred and her friends, things always pretty much worked out for the best, alongside of the fact that the bully’s always got their comeuppance. A wonderfully creative and inclusive world which Biba loves just as much as I do!
Georges Marvellous Medicine by Roald Dahl
Trying to narrow down just one Roald Dahl book for this was so hard but I think that Georges Marvellous Medicine has to be my favourite. Gloriously outrageous and absolutely full to bursting with imagery. I think it’s the finest example of the sheer magnitude of Roald Dahl’s imagination. Looking at it now as a parent, the fact that George had open season on everything in the house makes me quake, but as a child I set about making my own concoctions of toothpaste and bubblebath, and I think petals of some description! It’s also helped by the fact that back in the day the book was featured on Jackanory and was read by the great Rik Mayall in a way that only he could (if you’ve ever seen the movie Drop Dead Fred – that will give you an idea)
Last Act – Christopher Pike
The pride of the Scholastic book fair, Christopher Pike dominated the teen market with low level horror books such as Chain Letter (wow chain letters really were a huge thing when I was younger lol) but Last Act was something a little different. Probably my most re-read of all of the books of his I own, it’s more of a whodunnit than a horror, with thriller aspects that were out of this world for a young reader. Arising out of a high school drama production where someone is murdered, all fingers point at the female lead, but Christopher Pike does an amazing job of introducing so many other players into the mix, and in that I started my long and unblemished career of getting it absolutely wrong every single time!
Deenie by Judy Blume
Honestly I don’t know if Judy Blume books are still as popular or as much of a thing as they were in the late 80’s. I still remember my mum having to give permission to the school library for me to take out Forever, and for many, that book is the “go to”by this author, but Deenie is the one that remains fixed in my mind. Proving that body image issues are not a new thing, the scene where Deenie meets a vision of her future without her back brace is a reminder that often nothing shakes us into submission more than a visual representation. A strong lesson in expectation versus reality, this story often challenged ableism alongside a whole range of issues which are just as relevant today as ever.
Archers Goon by Dianne Wynn Jones
Dianna Wynne Jones is an exceptional author of children’s fiction, Neil Gaiman describes her as “Astonishing” yet I rarely see mentions of her. She is best known for Howls Moving Castle (although you might not know it,) and whilst A Tale of Time City was my first book of hers, Archers Goon is the one that stands out for me. It is a book which is so difficult to summarise but in her usual style she created an unusual, but striking, twist filled world. Set in against a backdrop of a family man who must write 2000 words of nonsense every quarter for “Archer” it becomes a story of feuding siblings, strange magical locks preventing them from moving outside of the predetermined zones, and time paradoxes. Yet the narrative never stutters and it was turned into a wonderful TV adaptation in the early 1990’s which conveyed such dread and excitement. If you’ve not read any of her books, I strongly recommend that you give her a try!
Please feel free to share with me your favourite childhood books, extra props if you have books older than mine lol