Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Happiness is a book discovery

I have many favourite books - naturally, I'm a writer. But there are a few I re-read every year, and some of them I've even shoe-horned into my current book. These are: The Little White Horse, I Capture the Castle, The Swish of the Curtain, Golden Pavements and Three Men in a Boat. Notice anything? Four of them are loosely defined as children's books. I also re-read Monica Edwards, Malcolm Saville, Ngaio Marsh and Georgette Heyer every year - not their entire oeuvre, but the odd few books.

Thanks to t'internet, I've also begun to collect and replace gaps in my collection, something I would have thought impossible a few years ago. I even found a book which used to make my mother and father - and me - laugh out loud when I was a teenager, of which I only remembered the title. I found it - exorbitantly priced, and two other books by the same author. Unfortunately, they didn't stand up to my memories.

This is not the case with the children's books. I've obtained Monica Edwards books I hadn't read since I was about 14, and they are as brilliant as ever. Malcolm Saville, too, although they seem to me now to be slightly condescending. Edwards isn't. Neither is my other favourite, Pamela Brown. Perhaps that's because she started her first book, the above mentioned "Swish" when she was only 14 herself.

To my delight, I have found an internet retailer who not only shares my anorakey love of old pony books - she has a whole section of her site devoted to them - but has a copy of a Pamela Brown book I lost years ago. She is at http://www.janebadgerbooks.co.uk Between us, we've come up with an idea that might appear here on this blog one day - when I've got the current mss - now late - to the publisher. Watch this space. Or not. Up to you. But would love to hear about people's favourite children's books. And whether there are many out there who still buy and read children's books.

8 comments:

Louise said...

I think you know about my children's book choices. Thought I'd leave a comment though :)

That's so pants said...

As a child I loved Alice in Wonderland and Wind in the Willows best. Growing up in Australia I also had Snugglepot and Cuddlepie (about gumnut babies) and the superb Magic Pudding. A little bit later I liked Anne of Green Gables and the 'Katy' series. My sister was passionate about the Narnia Chronicles and the Moomintroll Family. We loved cartoons and musicals as well and I think films possibly had a bigger impact on me when I was very young.

Lesley Cookman said...

I don't know Snugglepot an Cuddlepie, but my father introduced me to Alice and Wind in the Willows, and although they hold a special place in my memory of childhood, they don't mean half as much to me as the others. I also read the Katy series, the Narnia books, Famous Five, Secret Seven, the Pullein-Thompsons, Wishing Chair, Faraway Tree, Pooh...

Didn't everybody?

Bernardine Kennedy said...

You've been tagged by me to write five little known facts about yourself.
I was tagged by Liz Fenwick who was tagged by Liz FIelding who was tagged by Fiona Harper!
Long time since I played tag!
it's fun trying to think of the five things.....

Jane Henry said...

Yikes.... Lesley as you know in my other life I am a children's editor, so kids' books are my passion. I still love Narnia and have so enjoyed reading the series again with my own kids. My other choices would be Enid Blyton - pretty much the whole canon! - Susan Cooper's fabulous Dark is Rising series, Ursula le Guin's Wizard of Earthsea (tho' have to confess I haven't read the more recent ones), Diana Wynne Jones (favourites include: Cart and Cwydder, Power of Three, The Magicians of Caprona and Charmed Magic), Edward Eager's marvellous Half Magic series (I soooo wanted magic to be true, still do - can't you tell?), Roger Llancelyn Green's Robin Hood (so infinitely superior to the claptrap currently on the telly),Malcolm Saville, Winnie the Pooh, Alice in Wonderland, Wind in the Willows... Oh dear. Where do I stop.

I also adored RJ Unstead's history books and blame a lifelong love of history on him.

Oh and... yes, of course anything by Noel Streatfield, but particularly Ballet Shoes - she made me want to become an actress. And the incomparable Rosemary Sutcliff too. Eagle of the Ninth still makes me shiver...

I'd better stop otherwise I never will!!

Noel Streatfeild also wrote a wonderful time slip story about seven children who travelled back to seven historical times. It was brilliant, but I only read it once and I can't remember the name.

Love Jane

Mandy said...

I love children's books. Too may favourites to list. All the usuals plus The Land of Green Ginger by Noel Langley, brilliantly funny in the Georgette Heyer type of style. It revolved around the two wicked princes, Tin Tac Ping Foo and Rub Dub Ben Thud, a bad-tempered genie, and a baby who spoke as soon as he was born, calling his appalling grandmother a button-nosed tortoise.
One of my favourite characters was the Master of the Horse whose 'No pencil' will be with me for ever.

Lesley Cookman said...

Thanks for all the comments - fascinating. Also, sorry, Bernardine, haven't got around to doing the five little known facts about me. Will do it tomorrow, Sunday, when current production finishes.

Jenny Haddon said...

I read "Swish of the Curtain" so many times that the librarian forbade me to take it out again for three months.

Adore Susan Cooper, Diana Wynne Jones ("Howl's Moving Castle", God I hated the movie, and its brilliant successor with a smooth talking Aladdin hero; also the "Lives of Christopher Chant"; and I always cry at the end of "Dogsbody".)

I started re-reading the Lone Pine books when I was in Shropshire, and find Savile still does it for me. And I was madly in love with Humphrey in "Children of the New Forest" when I was small.

Newer titles - I love Cornelia Funke's "Inkheart". Franny Billingsley's "Folk Keeper" was a real discovery. And I adore absolutely anything by Robin McKinley, who's American but lives in the UK, apparently. Wonder if we could woo her to come and give us a talk? I mean, if there were enough of us . . .