Children’s classic fiction – the favourites, part 2

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
Mary Norton
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.)
  4. Lloyd Alexander – Prydain Chronicles. Not given much credit in English libraries, Lloyd Alexander had a fantastic feel for the Welsh spirit which
    Lloyd Alexander
    Lloyd Alexander

    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.

  5. 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.

Published by Jill London

Hi, I’m Jill, a writer and teacher living in the UK, usually behind a desk but sometimes on a sofa with a book or a film. I began writing at around age three, legibly by five, although I didn’t write any stories until I was older. Aged eleven, I began writing children’s fiction, mostly middle-grade fantasy and I’m still doing it to this day. I have had stories published online and in My Weekly magazine. The best bit about writing is when ideas pop into your head (from the writing fairy presumably?) and everything starts clipping together like a jigsaw puzzle. The worst bit? When you start to get the feeling there's a piece missing from the box...

5 thoughts on “Children’s classic fiction – the favourites, part 2

  1. I received a copy of the lion, the witch and the wardrobe at one of my school prize days. I read it and fell in love! It’s a wonderful, wonderful story that didn’t translate very well to film (in my opinion). I haven’t read Just Lisa or the Prydain Chronicles, but they have just gone onto my ‘must’ list.
    There are so many good things on your blog, I wish I had more time!


    1. I love hearing from you, Barbara, you’re always so kind.
      Yes, I doubt any film version of the lion, the witch and the wardrobe could ever be good enough because (like many stories) it works so much better as a book, I think. It’s something to do with how the author touches the reader, I guess, and it’s that kind of author/reader relationships that make so many of us try our hand at writing. Try being the operative word 🙂


  2. Some fine books here and I’m glad to see James and the Giant Peach get an honourable mention. One of my absolute favourites as a child was “Dogsbody” by Diana Wynne Jones.

    I read it thirty five years ago and I’m not sure if it has stood up to the test of time. I might have to revisit it. As a ten year old I found it to be very strange and dramatic, quite different to other books I was reading at the time.

    My honourable mentions list would contain (amongst other things) “The Mouse and his Child” and “Ridley Walker” by Russell Hoban.


    1. I havent read any of those so I’ll have to keep an eye out for them. Thanks for dropping by and sharing your favourite childhood reads. Much appreciated x


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