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That Children's Book Meme
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lil_shepherd
I've taken pellegrina's rules, but used inamac's useful date order. I think it is wise to point out that I am over 60 and therefore the books I read when under 18 are a bit limited. Also, that the authors were simply asked to recommend books for kids aged 11, not to suggest a definitive list. That, it certainly ain't.




Books selected for The Independent by Philip Pullman, Michael Morpurgo, Katy Guest, John Walsh, Michael Rosen.

Meme rules:
Bold those you read as aged 0-18.
Italicise those you read aged 19-now.
Underline those you started but didn't finish.
Strikethrough those you have never even heard of.

1843 - A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. (One of the books that made me loathe Dickens, and I haven't changed my mind after 50 years. What's more, I hate the TV adaptations and didn't care much for the Dr Who Christmas Special either.

1865 - Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll. I disliked them as a child, but like them now.

1868 - Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. Didn't realise when it was set. I might have cared more for it if I had.

1883 - Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi. Bounced off this a couple of times. Hate the movie.

1883 - Treasure Island by R.L. Stevenson. Bounced off this twice as a child – and after being given two copies. I don't think I ever finished it and have no urge to read it again.

1888 - The Happy Prince by Oscar Wilde.. Okay, I guess.

1891 - The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. But again, I love these far more now than I did in my teens.

1902 - The Elephant's Child From The Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling. Why not all The Just So Stories and The Jungle Book and Kim and the collected poems – not to mention my favourite The Day's Work?

1910 - The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson-Burnett. Another book I bounced off as a child and still don't like.

1922 - Just William books by Richmal Crompton. I read one of these, and didn't like them. Rex Milligan now...

1925 - Carry On, Jeeves by PG Wodehouse. Not a children's book.

1929 - Emil and the Detectives by Erich Kastner. I haven't read this, but I have heard the BBC's super radio adaptation...

1930 - Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome. Another book I didn't like!

1937 - The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkein. Though in the other order and I'm not fond of "The Hobbit" – too old at fourteen, which was when I came to Tolkien through, of all things, ASF's Analytical Laboratory which reviewed That Hideous Strength which I had just read, and mentioned its links to LotR.

1939 – date - Beano Annual. I occasionally read the Beano from about 1955 to 1965, which ought to count, no?

1945 - Animal Farm by George Orwell. My brother did this for O Level English and fought over it with his teacher because the animals weren't animal-like. This is one of the reasons why this is not a children's book – it is a political tract.

1946 - Mistress Masham's Repose by TH White. Bounced off this. Why not The Once and Future King a great book for young adults.

1948 - I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith. Never bothered.

1951 - The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway. Recommended for 11 year olds! What planet is this author on?

1953 - The Man Who Planted Trees by Jean Giono.

1954 - How to be Topp by Geoffrey Williams and Ronald Searle. Not really my kind of humour.

1954 - Moominsummer Madness by Tove Jansson. By the time I'd heard of this it was too late for me to enjoy it.

1956 - The Silver Sword by Ian Serraillier. Again, not a book I particularly enjoyed. Okay, I guess.

1958 - A Hundred Million Francs by Paul Berna. I've heard of the author, but not that title

1961 - The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster.

1961 (Tr) - Finn Family Moomintroll (and the other Moomin books) by Tove Jansson. (see 1954)

1963 - The Castafiore Emerald by Hergé. I've read, and enjoyed, Tintin, but that I don't remember.

1964 - Black Hearts in Battersea by Joan Aiken. Not by any means the best of these books, but good fun. The series hit a high point with The Cuckoo Tree and Dido and Pa.

1967 - The Owl Service by Alan Garner. Got this when it came out in paperback and was peeved that, once again, it wasn't the sequel to The Moon of Gomrath that I had been pining for. The Weirdstone of Brisingmen and The Moon of Gomrath are still closer to my heart, and much more suitable for children under 15.

1971 - When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit by Judith Kerr.

1979 - After the First Death by Robert Cormier. Again, I know the author but not that title.

1983 - People Might Hear You by Robin Klein.

1990 - Moving Pictures by Terry Pratchett. Not a children's book. And Pratchett has written wonderful children's books, like Johnny and the Bomb, A Hatful of Sky, Nation etc etc etc.

1990 - The Singing Tree by Kate Seredy.

1992 - Greek myths by Geraldine McCaughrean. I'm a Roger Lancelyn Green fan myself.

1998 - Skellig by David Almond. Not that impressed.

2000 - Stormbreaker by Anthony Horowitz. Flipped through this. Obviously a fun book, if not my thing. Seen the film, though.

2001 - Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman. I ought to read this. It has one hell of a rep.

2001 - Refugee Boy by Benjamin Zephaniah. One of my unfavourite poets also writes fiction? Ouch.

2001- Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer. I loved this book!

2002 - The Story of Tracy Beaker by Jacqueline Wilson. Does seeing bits of the TV series count?

2003 - Private Peaceful by Michael Morpurgo. Not read this one. Why not When the Whales Came, Warhorse or The Butterfly Lion all of which made me cry?

2003 - The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon. Didn't attract me.

2004 - The Star of Kazan by Eva Ibbotson

2007 - Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney.

2007 - Red Cherry Red by Jackie Kay.

2007 - The London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd.

2007 - The Tygrine Cat (and The Tygrine Cat on the Run) by Inbali Iserles. I've read Vajak Paw which is also about a cat on the run, though.

2010 - Einstein's Underpants and How They Saved the World by Anthony McGowan.

2010 - Talkin Turkeys by Benjamin Zephaniah. See above.

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There should have been more Kästner in the list. As far as I can tell, that list is limited to fiction, but his When I Was a Young Boy is an excellent autobiography for children. The Flying Classroom is a classic boarding-school story; the headmaster is an obvious ancestor of Dumbledore. I don't know if they're available in English.

The list is a bit of a cheat, as the Indie simply asked the authors in question to give them a list of ten books they thought an eleven year old might like. They then published them as a "books a child ought to read" with a few hasty additions by the editor. All of the authors took a slightly different view, but between them left large gaps, hence the unbalanced nature of the list.

Emil and the Detectives is well known, but as far as I can see the only other book of Kastner available from Amazon UK is Lottie and Lisa (presumably Lisle in the original!)

I think in the original it's Lise... I liked Emil & the Detectives (and there's another Emil book, too - Emil & the Three....somethings I forget. Didn't like it as much, though). But Emil&t3D and Lottie & Lisa were favourites of ours back in the 50s & 60s.

I have several of Paul Berna's books - I don't remember which we got first, but A Hundred Million Francs, The Knights of King Midas, and The Street Musician are all on my shelves. (As is L&L.)

I've read The Curious Incident..., which is moderately interesting. And Moving Pictures. Other than that, I don't think I've read any of the post-1979 ones. I have *heard* of some, and even seen them in bookshops.

Why no Noel Streatfeild? Or Rosemary Sutcliff? Or ... I could go on. So, I expect, could you.

Oh, yes, indeed. Fandom assembled is going on at length ever since the lists came out. The first cry being "Why no Rowling/Pullman/Meyer/Wynne Jones?" From my era, "Why no Susan Cooper/Buckeridge/Milne?" For me, however, the most obvious "missing person" from the current era is Anne Fine. Then there are the overseas people like Ivan Southall (Ash Road perhaps, or Let the Balloon Go) and Margaret Mahy (The Changeover, I think.)

Edited at 2011-03-26 12:27 pm (UTC)

The book in German is called Das Doppelte Löttchen. It's been twice loosely adapted into a movie, both times called The Parent Trap.

I agree that so many of these are not children's books and likely to put anyone off reading as a child.

Also what about blyton? Not a good writer but I lapped them up as a child.

Indeed. It is far better to let children choose which books they want to read, and let them make their way to their own level. Most of us went through the Blyton stage and the pony book stage and we are none the worse for it.

I had an odd childhood as far as books were concerned. My father would have said he was "not a great reader". My mother, who would probably have guided my reading, was German and therefore had little knowledge of children's books, and when I was about seven bought books for me at random because she liked the titles. I wasn't stopped from reading anything I could lay my hands on, because my tastes differed so much from Mum's that she never read my books. (As a ten year old, I picked up Fred Brown's Nightmares and Geezenstacks which is full of sex jokes. At ten I didn't understand any of them.)

Once a library member, I read what I liked (usually a dozen books a week)and collected paperbacks and comic books in conjunction with a brother who shared my tastes (even to getting me to take Blyton's Malory Towers out of the library for him because they were, indeed her best books.) The result of which is that I have been a self-guided reader for pleasure for my entire life, and refuse to read a book because I 'ought to.'

There's not a lot of point in my doing this meme, because there are very few books I can be sure I read at under 18. That end date was 50-and-a-bit years ago, after all... Though a good many of the earlier books, I fancy, were included in my ravening path through the children's library (when it opened I was about 10) and the adult's, which they let me into by special permission when I was about 12. I do remember my mother taking a Saint book away from me, because sexual activity was implied (though I don't think I registered that). But she didn't like me writing sex, even in my 40s, either. The things she did let me read, I suspect she hadn't read herself.

When I first read the list (without knowing how it was arrived at, typical journalism) I was irritated by how many were written for adults, how many are not suitable for children, and - like everyone else - how many omissions there are.

So I read people's meme responses to join in the grumping and "oh, but this one is good!"

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