Following on from my previous post on my favourite classic children’s authors, here’s part 2. Last time I looked at E. Nesbit, Philippa Pearce, Catherine Storr, L.M. Montgomery and Lucy M. Boston, and here to round it off are my final five with my favourite of their books.
- Mary Norton – The Borrowers. Chances are, model (or miniature) villages like the one at Babbacombe or Bekonscot hold a particular delight for you if you’re a fan of the Borrowers. Reading the books I was there every step of the way with Arrietty and Spiller on their adventures afield, afloat and aloft, avoiding ‘human beans’. Did you know that there was another, more recent addition; The Borrowers Avenged? I haven’t read it but maybe I will on the reading challenge.
- Hans Peterson – Just Lisa. This one is a tad difficult to get hold of these days, but it was a real favourite of mine when I was very small. Lisa had a secret sort of windowed attic box-room (wall-papered over to completely disguise it) which she hid herself away in whenever she chose, and I so longed for one of my own as I loved the idea of being hidden away where no-one would find me.
- Francis Hodgson-Burnett – The Secret Garden. Secret rooms – secret gardens, there is a theme here, I think. One of the things I really liked about Mary Lennox was her sourness. I loved the fact that she wasn’t sweet and cheerful, as I often found a lot of the heroines in books too hard to emulate, and I always had to identify with my story’s main character. (Though I did manage to read, and somehow identify with, Pollyanna.)
- Lloyd Alexander – Prydain Chronicles. Not given much credit in English libraries, Lloyd Alexander had a fantastic feel for the Welsh spirit which
pervades this series and I was sure that he must have been Welsh until I grew up and found that he was American. I discovered Alexander in my eternal search for ‘another Narnia book’ (see below), and his books fulfilled my craving. The 5 books in the series are filled with adventure and gentle humour, and I stand by them as an excellent series for young fantasy fans.
- C.S. Lewis – Narnia. As I started this tour of children’s classics with Nesbit I will finish with Lewis as the two were the pillars of my childhood reading. I loved the Narnia stories so much that I had whole passages of it devoted to memory (though since forgotten). I also drew maps of Narnia in my spare time and read the books over and over. If it’s not immediately obvious to you let me put it clearly: I was obsessed with Narnia.
The list could have been so much longer, so I’m including a list of honourable mentions that I would have included given the space, including, but not limited to: James and the Giant Peach, The Box of Delights, The Ghosts (The Amazing Mr Blunden), The Ghosts of Motley Hall and The Strange Affair of Adelaide Harris.
Let me know what you would have added.