Top fifteen children's books

Truly, I tried... but I couldn't get the list down to ten. Even fifteen was a struggle...

Top fifteen children's books
The Friends of Emily Culpepper - Ann Coleridge
This is a picture book by Australian author Ann Coleridge... sadly, it's now out of print. The book is funny and surprising with a couple of jokes for the grown-ups. It's definitely one for reading aloud.

Tell Me if the Lovers are the Losers - Cynthia Voigt
My first introduction to Cynthia Voigt was the Homecoming series. This is quite different in style but I love the character development. A couple of changes are predictable but there are a few surprises too.

Danny, the Champion of the World - Roald Dahl
I'm a big Dahl fan anyway and this is probably my favourite. Danny's father is so wonderful - or as Dahl calls him, 'sparky'.

Carrie's War - Nina Bawden
For some reason I have a fondness for WW2 evacuation stories... no idea why, but in any case this is a great one.

Tom's Midnight Garden - Philippa Pearce
Delightful from start to finish.

Where the Wild Things Are - Maurice Sendak
Did you know this book is one of a trilogy? Where The Wild Things Are, In The Night Kitchen and Outside Over There (which was NOT, as many people believe, the inspiration for the movie Labyrinth). Sendak manages to delve into the deepest parts of the mind, but without scarring children for life - no mean feat!

The Narnia series - C. S. Lewis
When I first read these (in completely the wrong order because I was given The Silver Chair as a gift by someone who didn't know it was part of a series) I had no idea they were Christian books. The imagery is obvious to Christians but I don't believe it's that obvious to kids with little knowledge of Christianity. Well, at least until The Last Battle, which contains my favourite scene of all, where the unicorn realises they are finally in the TRUE Narnia, and says the reason they loved the old Narnia was because it sometimes reminded them of this real Narnia... but he realises that this is his real home, the one he's been longing for his whole life without even realising it. Amen!

Mistress Masham's Repose - T. H. White
A nod to Gulliver's Travels, without the political commentary.

The Swallows and Amazons series - Arthur Ransome
The whole series is completely alien to me in ways - English kids, camping and sailing, set in the 1940s - and yet totally captivating. A grand adventure story with likable characters, particularly the 'pirate' uncle.

The Wolves of Willoughby Chase - Joan Aiken
Neglected orphans, a wicked governess, a cunning and evil plot and an alternate historical timeline... what's not to love?

Horton Hears a Who - Dr Seuss
Like Mistress Masham's Repose and Mary Norton's Borrowers series, I was fascinated with the idea of a whole world of tiny people, living their own lives in their own little world that's part of ours yet quite separate, and hidden from those who don't open their eyes to look. I've never looked at dandelions the same way since reading this!

The Little White Horse - Elizabeth Goudge
What can I say? It's just delightful.

A Sound of Crying - Rodie Sudbury
Sudbury wrote a series about the character of Polly. I hated the others but this one is great - the idea of living someone else's life while she dreams was scary yet somehow appealing. It was released under the alternate title of... ummm... I think it was The Voice in the Woods, but don't quote me.

Miss Happiness and Miss Flower - Rumer Godden
Ordinarily I don't care for books about talking dolls but these dolls are lovely, and a good foil to the parallel story of a girl trying to find her place in a strange family.

The Silver Crown - Robert C. O'Brien
When I went back and re-read this I was astonished that it's much shorter than I remembered. So much seems to happen that I was convinced it's a much longer book. When I was in primary school I must have borrowed this from the library about 20 times. It was out of print for many years but someone finally came to their senses about 6 years ago and reprinted it.


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