The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe – C.S. Lewis

the-lion-the-witch-and-the-wardbrobeI recently wrote about my favourite winter reads. If I had written this list with children’s books in mind, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe would be right at the top.

Stepping through the wardrobe with Lucy for the first time was one of the most memorable reading moments of my childhood. It’s the sort of magical memory that lasts a lifetime and can easily be summoned up when eating particularly heavenly Turkish delight or walking along a snowy forest path in the twilight.

As a child, I felt I knew Narnia inside out, but reading The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe as an adult, I now realise a lot of that must have been my own imagination. The writing style is simple and not overly descriptive. Lewis gives the reader a scene to work with and they conjure up the rest themselves. Continue reading

Top 5 Roald Dahl Books from my Childhood

Happy Roald Dahl Day everyone!

Today is the birthday of the beloved children’s author Roald Dahl, and what better way to celebrate than to share some of my favourite books?

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Moondial – Helen Cresswell


I loved Helen Cresswell’s writing when I was younger. She writes in a non-patronising, matter-of-fact way and understands what children want. Her thrilling stories are so full of suspense and her characters are so refreshingly realistic. The protagonist in the Moondial is no exception.

Minty is staying with her aunt Mary for the summer. While she is there, her mother is in an accident, leaving her in intensive care. Minty struggles to come to terms with her mother’s condition and buries herself in the mysteries of the haunted Belton House opposite her aunt’s cottage.

The setting is based on the real Belton House in Lincolnshire. Minty, who has always had a sixth sense for ghosts, immediately begins to feel the prickle of something mysterious in the air surrounding the house. This feeling is especially apparent in the gardens, where she finds a sundial.  Continue reading

Limbo Lodge – Joan Aiken

Limbo LodgeOnce again Dido Twite’s journey back to her beloved England has been delayed (you must be wondering whether she will ever make it home!). This time it’s because of an order from the King to find Lord Herodsfoot, who is travelling the world in search of new and interesting games. He is much needed back home to help cure the King of a mysterious illness.

So we begin the book with poor Dido preparing for yet another adventure. Although not quite as creepy as The Stolen Lake, the setting of this book is also full of strangeness and magic. Dido learns which creatures to avoid, but the deadly pearl-snakes and killer sting-monkeys turn out to be the least of her worries in Aratu.  Continue reading

The Stolen Lake – Joan Aiken

The Stolen LakeNext in the Wolves of Willoughby Chase series, we have The Stolen Lake. It’s a wonderfully eerie book set in the strange country of New Cumbria, where Captain Hughes of the Thrush has mysteriously been sent for by their Queen. This is unfortunate for our heroine Dido Twite, whose journey back to England is interrupted once again.

Dido and a select few members of the crew, including the Captain, are immediately struck with the strangeness of New Cumbria. The people are distant and shifty and where are all the children? It’s clear that no one can be trusted!

Captain Hughes plans to see the Queen of the country as soon as possible and get the whole adventure over with, but things are never as easy as that in a Joan Aiken book!  Continue reading

Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief – Rick Riordan

9780141346809I bought this for my younger brother as a present but was so intrigued to see how Riordan would bring the Greek Gods into the modern day, that I decided to give it a go myself.

At first I quite enjoyed the writing style and pace of Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief. Riordan gets straight to the point, with the first chapter being named “I accidentally vaporize my pre-algebra teacher” (who hasn’t wanted to do that at some point in their school lives?)

There’s no faffing about, it’s all in-your-face-action with an easy going, humorous narrative from Percy himself. With his natural way of speaking and everyday problems (on top of the extraordinary problems you get from having a God for a father), I imagine kids can relate to Percy.  Continue reading

Black Hearts in Battersea – Joan Aiken

Black Hearts in BatterseaAs promised in my recent post about The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, I have re-read the next book in the series.

Black Hearts in Battersea follows kind-hearted Simon, the goose boy from the previous book. When he arrives in London to enrol at an art school, he finds that his friend Dr Field is missing. His new home, where Dr Field is supposed to be living, smells oddly of the doctor’s paints, but otherwise there is no trace of him, and the landlords swear that they have never even heard of him. There’s something fishy about the landlords. The Twites are a fantastic family; they are loud and dirty, rude and untrustworthy and Simon is sure that they have something to do with Dr Field’s disappearance. That doesn’t stop him from making friends with the youngest Twite, Dido.

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The Wolves of Willoughby Chase – Joan Aiken

the wolves of willoughby chaseI was ill a few weeks ago and couldn’t concentrate on my current book, so picked up this old favourite of mine from my childhood instead.

The Wolves of Willoughby Chase is packed with all of the right ingredients to make a smashing children’s adventure. When Sir Willoughby and his wife leave for a long trip abroad, they arrange for their daughter and niece to be looked after by a distant relative, the perfectly named Miss Slighcarp. With a name like that, it’s no surprise when the stern governess turns out to be a villainous and scheming woman with a plot to steal all of Sir Willoughby’s money. The two girls, Bonnie and Sylvia suffer much cruelty at the hands of their ghastly governess and later in a nearby orphanage workhouse. However, the girls are resourceful and with the help of Simon, a goose boy who lives in the woods, they plan their escape.  Continue reading

Tales of the Greek Heroes – Roger Lancelyn Green

Over the past year, when reading certain books, I’ve felt as though I am missing something. The feeling first started when I read Donna Tartt’s The Secret History a few years ago, but I always assumed that I was just too young to fully understand the book. But more recently, when reading Ali Smith’s Girl Meets Boy, The Magus by John Fowles and many other novels which hint at or are inspired by Greek mythology, I have felt completely out of my depth. References that other people seem to fully understand fly right over my head.

I don’t remember learning much about Greek mythology when I was at school, which I find quite shocking seeing as it plays such a vital role in our culture – especially art and literature; two subjects I have an interest in. Wanting to catch up, I immediately researched and decided to buy a well-respected translation of Ovid’s MetamorphosisContinue reading

The Owl Service – Alan Garner

I bought this book on Amazon in a frenzy of excitement after reading some reviews raving about how fantastic it was. When I settled myself down comfortably to read The Owl Service, I thought I was in for a real treat, so maybe my expectations were a bit too high from the very beginning.

Supposedly a book to be enjoyed by both children and adults, the idea behind The Owl Service is wonderful. It’s set in a secluded cottage in a beautiful valley in Wales. This is the perfect setting for eerie and magical happenings and when there are mysterious scratching noises coming from the attic, the reader can’t help but feel a bit of a shiver down the spine. Continue reading