21. The Adventure series by Enid Blyton
Although I loved many of Enid Blyton’s books, I think this series was probably my favourite. In some
22. Emil and the Detectives by Erich Kästner
Written in 1929, Emil and the Detectives concerns a small boy who is sent to Berlin by his mother with some money for his grandmother. The money is stolen from him on the train so he puts together a gang of Berlin children to be his detectives and hunt down the thief. It’s a relatively simple tale but one I rather enjoyed.
23. Tales of the Greek Heroes by Roger Lancelyn Green
Ever since I can remember, I’ve loved mythology and, especially Greek and Roman mythology. My parents bought me versions of the Odyssey and the Iliad for children and I suspect this love pushed me towards studying classics at school and, eventually, taking both Latin and Greek A-levels. One of my favourite books about mythology was Roger Lancelyn Green’s collection of Greek myths for children. All the old favourites are there and, as it’s definitely still in print, I’d heartily recommend it. Mini-Falaise is blissfully unaware but, one day, her old man will be sitting down with her to read this.
24. Tales of the Roman Heroes by Roger Lancelyn Green
See above but this time in Rome. I never read his books on Arthurian, Egyptian and Norse mythology but wish I had - I may have come to those mythoi sooner. Incidentally, I didn’t realise that Lancelyn Green was a former pupil and, later, friend of C.S. Lewis, another resident of this list.
25. The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
I can’t help thinking of this as a book of wordplay and language teaching as much as a story. It’s a fun story of a boy, Milo, who drives his toy car through a magic tollbooth to the Kingdom of Wisdom where he visits places such as Dictionopolis and the Island of Conclusions and goes on a quest to rescue Princesses Rhyme and Reason. If you haven’t read it, it’s really very good with lots of puns and suchlike. When I was a teenager at boarding school, my parents occasionally used to take me to a restaurant called Le Talbooth for lunch which always triggered memories of this book and tickled me somewhat.
26. A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula le Guin
With due apologies to fans of J.K. Rowling, before Hogwarts there was Roke and before Harry there was
27. Mrs Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert O’Brien
I loved the idea of a group of rats with human intelligence helping Mrs Frisby move her poorly little son to her summer house and away from the farmer’s plough. It’s a lovely book.
28. The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
Need I go on? The tales of Mole, Ratty, Badger and Toad are all-time classics. Loved them then, still love them now.
29. Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson.
The classic tale of pirates. Long John Silver, Israel Hands, Billy Bones and Jim Hawkins. As well as being an exciting adventure full of action and skullduggery, it also introduced some of the now-standard pirate tropes - the treasure map where X marks the spot, the treasure island and fifteen men on a dead man’s chest. Brilliant stuff.
30. The Machine Gunners by Robert Westall
I have to confess I had to do a bit of searching to find the title of this book and the name of the author as only the basic plot had stuck in my head. In my defence though, it is over thirty years since I read it. This story, set during World War II, revolves around a group of kids who find a crashed German bomber with a machine gun in full working order. The kids turn it into a fortress to defend their town. It’s tense and exciting and is another book where the children take on the adult world independently.
So, that’s all for today. There are 20 more to go on my list. Tune in again tomorrow…..or maybe the next day for numbers 31-40.