Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday: Some old school tales from back in the day

It’s all gone a bit retro over at the Broke and the Bookish for today’s Top Ten Tuesday.  In a reprise of the first ever Top Ten Tuesday, we’re all going to dust off a few of our childhood favourites.

I don’t suppose it will come as any great surprise that, similarly to all of you, I was a voracious reader as a child, draining my parents’ bank balance and annoying the hell out of our local library.  I can’t possibly rank them so here is a selection of some of the books I enjoyed before I moved on to more adult fare.

1.         The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien.  I have recently bought a gorgeous Folio Society edition of this in hardback for when mini-Falaise is ready for it in about 5 years time (you may call it obsessional, I call it good planning).  An all-time classic and a springboard to The Lord of the Rings.  And if she doesn’t like it, I’ll have the book back!

2.         `Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl.  If I were a betting man, I’d stake a considerable amount of money that this will feature on a large number of lists today and, if it doesn’t, it should.  Neither of the films has done it justice.  Also, the sequel, Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator, shouldn’t be overlooked.

3.         The Adventure Series by Enid Blyton.  I know she was an old-fashioned racist, sexist, classist so-and-so but I loved her books as a child and can’t help feeling slightly uncomfortable at the various bans and bowdlerisations that have taken place.  I could easily have put down the Famous Five or the Secret Seven instead and do rather like the idea of the Secret Seven’s clubhouse and their lashings of cake and ginger beer.  Mini-Falaise’s great-grandparents have bought her the first four Famous Five books for when she’s older and I will have no problem with her reading them – after all, it’s my job (along with Mrs F) to make sure she grows up with a decent set of attitudes and not Enid’s.

4.         Tales of the Greek Heroes by Roger Lancelyn Green.  I was addicted to mythology as a child and Lancelyn Green, a former Inkling, produced a number of children’s versions of both Greek and Norse myths and versions of the Arthur story and the story of Robin Hood, all of which I devoured.  I don’t know if they are still in print but this one in particular inspired a love of Greek myth that led me on to The Iliad and The Odyssey and eventually on to studying Classical Greek at school and reading the literature in the original.

5.         The Jennings Series by Anthony Buckerdige.  Even before I went to prep school, I loved the Jennings and Darbishire boarding school novels.  I guess the social and maybe even moral attitudes they describe are outdated today but they were fun and there was an innocent subversiveness about them.  They led me on to the more satirical world of Molesworth, who still delights me now.

6.         The Adventure Series by Willard Price.  Another from my apparently extensive back catalogue of childhood favourites with distinctly dodgy cultural undertones.  Price’s heroes were a pair of teenage zoologist brothers, Hal and Roger, who travelled the world getting embroiled in a series of wildlife-related adventures.  I particularly loved the underwater themed ones.  They’ve been recently re-released here in the UK (although, oddly out of sequence) and I have bought a couple for my eldest nephew, aged seven.  Also, and here’s an odd piece of trivia, Price was, allegedly, a CIA agent.

7.         Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome.  Oh, how I loved this tale of children sailing dinghies and camping out on an island in their summer holidays.  It was a world away from my suburban upbringing and seemed so exciting and fun.  Even in the 1970s when I read it, it had a wonderful period feel, something of a time gone by, a more innocent time.  I can’t help feeling that we need books like this even more today, when childhood seems to be a more stressful, pressured and commercialised time than back in my day.

8.         The Professor Branestawm series by Norman Hunter.  I used to wonder at the Renaissance –man qualities of Norman “Bite yer legs” Hunter who apparently combined his role as the hard man of Don Revie’s legendary Leeds United defence with a successful career as a children’s author, until I realised it was a completely different Norman Hunter.  Anyway, despite the shattering of my childhood illusions, Hunter’s stories of the absent-minded professor and the chaos caused by his incredible inventions were favourites of my youth.  I think some may still be in print but they are definitely worth a look.

9.         The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis.  I blame Lewis for encouraging me to climb into every wardrobe I could find at home or in any home I visited for a while, just checking that there was no door to Narnia in there.  I never really got into the sequels, funnily enough, but this one also gave me a life-long love of Turkish Delight.  Yum.

10.       The Dark is Rising Sequence by Susan Cooper.  My list wouldn’t be complete without the inclusion of this series, given that I have banged on about it often in these lists.  Even more excitingly, the Folio Society has begun to publish beautiful editions of these books too, which will be added to mini-Falaise’s growing shelf of classics for when she gets a little older.

I could have gone on forever with this one.  I can’t believe I haven’t found room for books like James and the Giant Peach, Stig of the Dump, the Silver Sword, Paddington, Fantastic Mr Fox, Agaton Sax, Watership Down, Tarka the Otter, the Moomins, Where the Wild Things Are, Mrs Frisby and the Rats of Nimh or The Phantom Talbooth.  Makes me want to be a child again so I would have an excuse to read them and many others again.  Mini-Falaise, watch out, your bedtimes are planned for the next few years!


Red said...

Nice list! I loved myths as well as a kid (D'Aulaires' Book of Greek Mythology was my myth go to).
I didn't go with Charlie & the Chocolate Factory but Dahl features on my list. He was one of my favorite authors

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

How did I forget The Hobbit? I loved that book when I was young. Narnia was another favorite. I've just recently discovered the Dark is Rising series, but I love them.

Strega said...

Nice top ten.
Narnia and The hobbit were also among my favorites books.

Anonymous said...

I just finished reading the Hobbit last night!

Lisa said...

I've just been thinking it's time for another read of The Dark is Rising - part of my holiday reading list.

Madigan Mirza said...

Great list of books. A lot of these are on my list, too.

Your tagline makes me a little sad! Only 2606 more books to read??? Somehow in the back of my mind, I feel like I could read at least a million. I'm gonna read them all, even if it means I have to live foreeeever! lol.

LBC said...

Yes on hiding in wardrobes trying to transport to Narnia. I did a bit of that myself.

Alex (The Sleepless Reader) said...

Recently bought The Dark is Rising sequence and someone was recommending that I start with book 2. What do you think?

Falaise said...

Alex - definitely not! I can see where they were coming from in that the first book is not the best in the series and has a slightly different style but I do think you need to read it first to set the scene and get things in the right order.

Anonymous said...

Roger Lancelyn Green - brings back wonderful memories - I had that Greek myths book too. Good old Puffin.

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