desert island question

Dorian E. Gray israfel at
Sat Apr 24 15:19:39 EDT 2004

Robyn said...

> My question is, what book(s) would you most like to study? Or, if you
> which ones should I be teaching? The current dwj frontrunner is Witch
> because it is sooooooo cool to compare it with Harry Potter.

You can't possibly do kidlit without including Narnia!  "The Lion, the Witch
and the Wardrobe" is the obvious one, though my personal favourite is "The
Horse and his Boy"; I love the insights into Calormen society.

Hm.  Thinking about it, most of my favourites run to the older stuff.  I
will not apologise for this, though, because they are still good books and
more people ought to read them.  So...

Frances Hodgson Burnett.  I'd go for "The Lost Prince", I think; for one
it's more likely to appeal to boys as well as girls.  Also the scene setting
in that one is especially vivid, and the boys' travel around Europe is
exciting as well as believable.

E. Nesbit.  My personal favourite is "The Magic City", but that seems to be
impossible to get hold of these days.  "The Story of the Treasure Seekers"
has vivid depictions of Victorian London, and the kids' efforts to make
money are very convincing.  Plus I love the device of having one of the kids
tell the story without telling you overtly which one it is.

A bit newer...Noel Streatfeild.  You probably ought to cover some genres
such as school story/horse story/ballet story, so Streatfeild's "Ballet
Shoes" strikes me as a prime choice for the ballet story.  And the details
of the girls' training and trying to do everything on no money fascinated me
even as a child.

Joan Aiken.  Since you're aiming at younger children, "The Wolves of
Willoughby Chase" is probably the best choice.  Wildly exciting and one of
the best villainesses anywhere in fiction.

Rosemary Sutcliff.  I loved "The Eagle of the Ninth" and "The Silver Branch"
as a child; in fact, those books probably explain why I *still* find the
Roman Empire a fascinating part of history.

I shall stop making suggestions now, as I already feel a reread of most of
the books I've just mentioned coming on. :-)

Until the sky falls on our heads...

Dorian E. Gray
israfel at

"The tygers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction."
-William Blake, "Proverbs of Heaven and Hell"

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