Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Books Books Books

In work today when I may, or may not, have been on the tinterweb when I should have been paying attention to something about unit trusts and share price indexes, I happened upon this list of the best children's books on the BBC website.

The lists were picked by some of the more recent Children's Laureates - Quentin Blake [+ Roald Dahl = childhood heaven], Anne Fine, Michael Morpurgo, Jacqueline Wilson and Michael Rosen.

Books I have read.

Quentin Blake picked:
1. Little Tim And The Brave Sea Captain by Edward Ardizzone
2. Rose Blanche by Ian McEwan
3. Five Children And It by E Nesbit
4. Stuart Little by EB White
5. The Box Of Delights by John Masefield

A number of Quentin Blake's choices appear to have been illustrated by ... Quentin Blake. Funny that. I remember watching the BBC adaptation of Five Children And It every week on CBBC as a child - wondering what the hell a Psammead actually was. As opposed to a midget in a rubber suit, obviously.

Anne Fine chose:
1. The Sword In The Stone by TH White
2. A Child's Garden Of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson et al
3. The Wolves Of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken
4. Just William by Richmal Crompton
5. Journey To The River Sea by Eva Ibbotsen

I LOVE the Wolves of Willoughby Chase books. They are so effing good. Journey To The River Sea is also beyond awesome. I may be deported for admitting to having never read Just William. I feel so un-English.

Cool dude Michael Morpurgo picks:
1. Five Go To Smuggler's Top by Enid Blyton
2. Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
3. The Happy Prince by Michael MacLiammoir
4. Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling
5. The Complete Nonsense Of Edward Lear by Edward Lear
6. Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

What did my beloved CBM purchase for me only 2 weeks ago? A Famous Five ten book boxset you say? That's right. When I was a child I would have loved to have been out all day frolicking with the Five and Timmy the dog before rushing home to Aunt Fanny and Uncle Dick [!] for cake and lashings of ginger beer and to chatter excitedly in racist undertones about the gypsy children we had seen and suspected of being thieves. But I grew up in Warrington. And reality bites.

Oliver Twist I feel is a bit morbid for this list but I loves the musical. Even if Dickens The Musical! is ridiculous as a concept. My enjoyment of Edward Lear suffered because I read it shortly after Alice In Wonderland and a walrus is no match for playing croquet with a flamingo.

The slightly loathsome Jacqueline Wilson rates:
1. Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild
2. A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett
3. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
4. The Railway Children by E Nesbit
5. The Family From One End Street by Eve Garnett
6. What Katy Did by Susan Coolidge
7. Mary Poppins by PL Travers

Oh, the Family From One End Street. A story about people who weren't princesses and who didn't live in mansions but who had fun none the less. Good, clean fun. I found my copy of What Katy Did only the other day and saw that a person I went to school with had given me it as a present and inscribed it for my seventh birthday. That person is now 26 and on their third child. How times change.

Michael Rosen puts down the crack pipe and selects:
1. Emil And The Detectives by Erich Kastner
2. Daz 4 Zoe by Robert Swindells
3. The Diary Of A Young Girl by Anne Frank
4. Not Now, Bernard by David McKee
5. Clown by Quentin Blake
6. Fairy Tales by Terry Jones

I actually read Emil And The Detectives in German, back in the day when that was a possibility. I read it to warm me up to for Kafka auf Deutsch. Trying to read Kafka after this was the equivalent of a pulled hamstring. Very painful.

I remember going to sit on the carpet at school to go and listen to Not Now, Bernard being read to us and the entire class shouting 'NOT NOW, BERNARD!' at the appropriate time. David McKee is also responsible for King Rollo and Mr Benn - a large part of my childhood, then.

Daz 4 Zoe. This book should never be read by anyone. Ever. It is a rip off of Romeo & Juliet [one of Shakespeare's worst plays] and instead of Capulets and Montagues, it has subbies and chippys. It is terrible. Daz's sections are written in dialect and hideously misspelled and plebby. It is like reading a book entirely written in textspeak. Millions of trees died so this book could be published. And they really shouldn't have bothered.

Oh, and look who else likes reading! Bob the literary cat who looks a bit like Hitler, especially if you stand quite far away and squint. He has a Harry Potter bookmark.

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