Childhood favourites (Was Oh the horror!)

Ian W. Riddell iwriddell at
Fri Feb 7 16:30:25 EST 2003

My turn, here they are . . .

I put these first because I adored these books as a child. I used to 
get into heated arguments with a friend about what order they should 
be read (this was when I was 8). I didn't read them much during my 
teens and then I went back to them when I was in teacher training a 
few years ago. I got through "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe" 
and half-way through "Prince Caspian" and put them down. I just 
couldn't get through them again. I forced my way through "Battle" 
just to see the Revelations parallels. I will fully admit to being 
influenced by Phillip Pullman on this, but I just find these books 
dry and the theology icky. I would never stop a child from reading 
them and I would gladly give them to a child to read - but I can't 
read them anymore.

Winnie the Pooh
I still have the copies of these my parents bought me as a child. 
They were very smart. They bought 2 sets, one for me and one for my 
brother, so we didn't have to fight over them. While I love the Pooh 
books, I especially love my green-covered volumes of Milne's poetry: 
"The King asked the Queen and the Queen asked the Dairymaid . .. " 
and "Halfway up the stairs is the stair where I sit"

The Hardy Boys
I haven't tried these ones lately, but I wallowed in these books. I 
remember being so proud of myself that I could get through one whole 
book in an evening.

I honestly don't remember these much (I don't remember much from my 
childhood unfortunately!) but I remember sitting in the dusty 
sunlight in the children's room at the Kingston Public Library 
reading these books.

Harriet the Spy
Oh how I love this book! I keep going back to it. Proto-gayboy that I 
was, I loved how passionate and smart and human Harriet was. I loved 
Golly. I loved Scout. Every child I know in my life is getting this 
book when they are old enough. The sequels left me unimpressed, but 
Harriet is a Great Book.

Anything by Richard Scarry
This is more about the illustrations than anything else, but to this 
day, the sight of a mouse driving a crayon car makes me smile!

and last and definitely not least . .

The Hobbit
I have read LOTR several times and I enjoy it and revel in it, but 
this is the book for me. Adventure and poetry (poems you can actually 
sing if you want!) and spiders and wolves and Smaug. Oh, Smaug is 
just the greates thing ever. I loved the writing that appeared by 
moonlight. I loved the unexpected party at the beginning. I loved the 
trolls. I remember when the annotated version (there's now a new 
edition) came out in the mid-1990s. My partner and I were in a 
bookstore and I oohed and ahhed over it. I have often accused him of 
not paying attention to cues like this! But I had written a couple of 
arrangements of the poems in the Hobbit for a children's choir I was 
conducting at the time and Mark gave me a gift just before we sang 
them for the first time at our concert. Guess what it was? He's still 
in my good books for that one.

I have many, many others that I've grown to love as a school teacher 
and story reader and bookseller, but those will have to wait for a 
different list.


>Coming in late, but I just have to play!  But how to choose only five, even
>if I count a series as one choice?
>Narnia.  Can't possibly leave the Narnia books out; my paperbacks were
>falling apart by the time I was a teenager, I read them so much (they're in
>even worse state now, but I bought myself a lovely 7-in-1 hardback with the
>PBaynes illustrations - *coloured* *by* *her*!  It's gorgeous!).
>DWJ.  Can't leave Our Glorious Patroness out either!  My brother brought
>"Charmed Life" home from the library when I was about 9 or 10, and hooked
>the entire family.  I think my favourite from that period/at that time would
>probably be "Time of the Ghost".
>The Chalet School series.  Entirely my mother's fault; she gave me the first
>book as an antidote to all the Enid Blyton I was reading.  I think "The
>Princess of the Chalet School" was my favourite for several years.
>"The Old Powder Line" by Richard Parker.  A perfectly wonderful time-travel
>And I think the last one has to be "The Hawthorn Tree" by Patrick Little,
>which I've mentioned on here before, and which I think was probably my first
>Tam Lin story.
>And honourable mentions go to...
>The Swallows and Amazons books, especially "Winter Holiday"
>All of Frances Hodgson Burnett's work
>Jean Estoril's "Drina" books (ballet stories)
>Lloyd Alexander's Chronicles of Prydain
>Penelope Farmer's "A Castle of Bone"
>Enid Blyton's vast oevre
>Joan Aiken's alternate-history tales
>The Katy books
>Alice in Wonderland
>Everything by E. Nesbit, especially "The Magic City"
>Winnie the Pooh
>"The Talking Parcel" by Gerald Durrell
>"The Last Days of the End of the World" by Brian Stableford
>and most of Noel Streatfeild's books.
>Until the sky falls on our heads...
>Dorian (who has probably forgotten several more that should have been
>Dorian E. Gray
>israfel at
>"I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may be
>- O. Cromwell
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Fairy tales are not true--fairy tales are important, and they are not 
true, they are more than true. Not because they tell us that dragons 
exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be defeated.
G.K. Chesterton

Ian W. Riddell
iwriddell at
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