This week’s Top Ten Tuesday (brought to us, as ever, by the Broke and the Bookish) is a Top Ten Tuesday Rewind, offering us the chance to revisit a previous theme. I did think of picking one of the freebie weeks as my rewind week, thereby giving me the chance to make something up but it didn’t seem to be quite in the spirit of the rewind theme so, instead, I’m picking a theme from before I started participating in Top Ten Tuesdays.
And so, I’m going right back to the beginning, to the very first Top Ten Tuesday and revealing to you ten of my favourite childhood reads, thereby also making it very clear just how aged and decrepit I really am. You will find no Harry Potter here for I was well into my working life by the time JK Rowling unleashed him on an unwitting world. My list won’t include anything by Philip Pullman, Anthony Horowitz, Jacqueline Wilson or Michael Morpurgo – again, I preceded them. Nope, instead, we are heading back to the last days of glam rock, the hey-days of punk and the birth of the New Romantics to the part of my childhood after I learned to read but before I graduated to adult fare. Sit back and either join me in wallowing in nostalgia or, instead, have a good laugh at the way we used to read.
1. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl. If I’m being honest, I could probably fill out the majority of a list like this with Roald Dahl titles. I can’t think of anyone else who has managed to infuse his stories with that hint of wickedness that so appeals to small children. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory plays both on that sense of mischief and every child’s love of confectionary to create an all-time classic. I still have a copy on the shelves downstairs and am looking forward to sharing it with mini-Falaise
2. The Incredible Adventures of Professor Branestawm by Norman Hunter. I could have picked a number of the Branestawm books for this list but used the first in the series for simplicity’s sake. As a child, I delighted in the adventures of the absent-minded professor and his weird and wonderful inventions that were both improbable and doomed to failure.
by Enid Blyton. Without in any way endorsing the outdated views that pervade much of Blyton’s writing, she did write exceedingly good adventure stories. It seems invidious to single out one of her series and not to mention The Secret Seven or The Famous Five but I think that the Adventure series was my favourite. I liked the fact that the kids basically solved their adventures virtually without adult assistance and I also loved Kiki the parrot, an integral part of the gang. Island of Adventure
4. The Agaton Sax books by Nils-Olof Franzen. I only read a few of these and can’t decide which one to use as my exemplar but these stories of the amazing Swedish detective (and editor of the Bykoping Post) were fantastic and hilarious. And, even better, the English editions were illustrated by the brilliant Quentin Blake.
5. Diving Adventure by Willard Price. Another series I revelled in, Price’s children’s books featured two teenage zoologists, Roger and Hal Hunt, and their wildlife themed adventures. I particularly enjoyed the sea-based ones and as Diving Adventure also included a James Bond-like underwater city, it became my favourite. They’ve recently been re-issued in the
and I have given a copy of the first two to my oldest nephew to try and entice him into their world. UK
6. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien. At the age of around ten or eleven, I found a tatty old copy of The Fellowship of the Ring in a cabinet in our living room at home and, having already read The Hobbit, fell in love with LotR immediately. The following summer, I won a couple of prizes at my prep school and used them to acquire the remaining two volumes. The love affair continues to this day.
7. Asterix at the Olympic Games by Goscinny and Uderzo. Please get out your violins and hankies now for a sad, sad tale. You see, I was never really allowed comics as a child – my father thought they weren’t educational enough. True, I managed to get the occasional read of my friends’ comics but none of my own. But, one day, while out shopping with my mother, I managed to persuade her to buy Asterix at the Olympic Games as it was in paperback book format, albeit in black and white. She didn’t realise it was actually a comic book. Result. Old Man Falaise was predictably unimpressed (with both of us) but I read it over and over until it fell apart. The happy ending? I persuaded my father that Asterix in French was actually educational and was then allowed to buy vivid colour hardback copies on our summer holidays in
, most of which I still have on my shelves. France
8. James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl. I was intending to list only one novel by any given author in this list but have to make an exception for the amazing Mr Dahl as I simply can’t choose between this and Charlie. After all, wouldn’t it be cool to cross the
Atlantic in a huge peach?
It’s funny but thinking about this list has brought back all sorts of memories of childhood reading, favourite books (I haven’t even mentioned The Moomins, The Phantom Tollbooth or The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe) and childhood generally. I know most of the above are probably a little innocent or simple compared to the “issues based” childrens’ books that appear to be so popular these days but I can’t help feeling that they are still worth keeping and reading with our little ones. Or maybe I’m just viewing things through rose tinted specs.