Saturday, October 07, 2006

Influential Children's Books

Kelly of Big A, little a reported on Thursday that Michelle Pauli had started a conversation on the Guardian's Culture Vulture Blog about children's books teaching us important life lessons. And other Kidslit Bloggers have joined in the discussion, such as Jen Robinson with two posts on her Blog (the second one is here) and Wendy at Blog from a Windowsill also has two posts (here and here), and I've no doubt there are others I've not yet tracked down.

I'm not sure that I know what important life lessons I learned from the children's books I remember reading that I wouldn't have learnt anyway from my parents and grandparents, but I can give you a list of children's books with plots that have remained intensely alive in my head for 25 or more years:

Robert O'Brien's Mrs Frisby and the Rats of NIMH (Reviewed here)

Alan Garner's The Owl Service (Reviewed here)

Tove Jansson's Finn Family Moomintroll, Comet in Moominland and Moominland Winter (Reviewed here)

Norton Juster's The Phantom Tollbooth (Reviewed here)

Clive King’s Stig of the Dump (Reviewed here)

C S Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia

Penelope Lively's The Ghost of Thomas Kempe (Reviewed here)

Mary Norton's The Borrowers: Complete Series

Philippa Pearce's A Dog So Small (Reviewed here)

Catherine Storr's Marianne Dreams (Reviewed here)

J R R Tolkien's The Hobbit

Aside from The Chronicles of Narnia, I've recently re-read all of these books and found that they are still as powerful now as they were when I first read them 25 or more years ago.


Anonymous said...

Robert O'Brien wrote the Nimh books?! That completely passed me by! I always remember him for The Silver Crown - one of my favourites (and with a girl as the heroine, who has to rescue the boy, in the spirit of the feminism post above). I have read the Nimh books but when I was pretty young and I have to admit they didn't leave a huge impression :-) ie I can't really remember them!

Michele said...

Actually O'Brien only wrote Mrs Frisby and the Rats of Nimh - but his daughter wrote too sequels. The first of which was fairly OK, but the second was rather weaker. They're reviewed somewhere here on my Blog as I dug them out after people mentioned them after I posted the review of O'Brien's book.

The funny thing is that I enjoyed "Mrs Frisby" and then was totally unnerved by Z for Zachariah without ever realising the two were written by the same person until many years later !

Kelly said...

Great post, Michele! I'll link to it when I'm home this evening. Damn ice skating!

Michele said...

Cheers Kelly !

Ice-skating ? I only ever went once and spent more time on my back than on my feet, so never again ! I cannot ski, skate (ice or roller) or skateboard - I need my feet firmly on the ground !

Anonymous said...

I have yet to read the Moomintroll books - I'm really going to have to check those out one of these days. I LOVED Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, though I haven't re-read it in years.

Thanks for the links!

Michele said...

Jen, I heartily recommend the Moomintroll books - they're gorgeous. I also recommend Tove Jansson's The Summer Book, which isn't fiction but biographical. There's a review here.

You're welcome for the links !

Kelly said...

Oh, it's not me skating, Michele, never fear. It's my daughter who's an addict. She's still too young, and the rink out of town, for me to leave her alone for long periods of time.

Michele said...

I see, Kelly !!