Kerry (avatiakh) remains young at heart and reads...

Converses1001 Children's Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up

Afegeix-te a LibraryThing per participar.

Kerry (avatiakh) remains young at heart and reads...

Editat: des. 19, 2010, 3:11am

On this thread I'll mention the books I read that happen to be on the list. I'm mainly interested in the older children's classics and the 12+ books.
I went through the list a couple of weeks ago and I've already read 300+ (includes lots of picture books).

Next up:
I'm expecting to read a few more of these during 2011 and will continue to post my progress.

Editat: oct. 16, 2013, 4:40am

Read List

1) Kestrel for a Knave by Barry Hines (UK)
2) Grimpow by Rafael Abalos (Spain)
3) The Summer Book by Tove Jansson (Finland)
4) Cucumber King by Christine Nostlinger (Germany)
5) Hey Dollface by Deborah Hautzig (US)
6) A Parcel of Patterns by Jill Paton Walsh (UK)
7) Toby Alone by Timothee de Fombelle (France)
8) The Brothers Lionheart by Astrid Lindgren (Sweden)
9) Chocky by John Wyndham (UK)
10) The Spirit Wind by Max Fatchen (Australia)
11) The Naming of Tishkin Silk by Glenda Millard (Australia)

Editat: nov. 19, 2011, 2:36pm

2011 Read List

I've read a few this year, will have to go back and check out which ones.

gen. 23, 2010, 3:49pm


Editat: gen. 23, 2010, 3:59pm

Kestrel for a Knave by Barry Hines (1968) UK

I've been wanting to read this since David Hill mentioned it as a memorable class read aloud at a seminar a couple of years ago.
This is a poignant look at working class life in a grim mining town. There isn't any future here, and for Billy Casper, in his last year at school, not much of a present either. Bullied at home and at school, Billy survives each day best he can - he's tough, resourceful. He's sure about two things - he'll never work in the mines, and he has a special touch with animals. For the past year his life has revolved round his kestrel, Kes, and he spends every spare minute training the bird.
Inevitably sad, but well worth reading I have to mention the two teachers - Mr Farthing, who begins to realise how remarkable Billy's achievement with the kestrel is, and Mr Sugden the sports teacher, the meanest bully of them all. When Billy has to write a tall story the result just pulls your heartstrings.

I'm keen to see the film adaption of the book - Kes (1970)

feb. 16, 2010, 5:14am

Just finished Grimpow and it didn't seem to be that great. Also read Tove Jansson's The Summer Book which is adult fiction but has been included in the list.

des. 19, 2010, 3:05am

Cucumber King by Christine Nöstlinger (1972) Germany

This was quite humorous to read though it touched on some serious topics and had the utterly bizarre element of animated vegetable royalty.
School isn’t going well for Wolfi and he’s scared to tell his problems to his father because then he won’t be allowed to go to swimming club. His father is very strict, dictating who can do what; Mum is stuck at home though she’d prefer to be out working; Martina isn’t allowed to go with her friends to the cinema or café; and Grandpa would rather spend Sundays with his friends than at Church; only the youngest, Nik, seems happy. Then one afternoon the cucumber king arrives up from their cellar – his subjects have revolted, his courtiers run away and he’s looking for somewhere new to live and rule. This is a lighthearted look at facism at work.
The bit that jarred for me was that the parents had separate bedrooms, which seems extremely unusual for a normal family (the cucumber king shared a room with the father and plotted with him), there just didn’t seem to be enough rooms in the house.
Nöstlinger won the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award in 2003 and IBBY’s Hans Christian Andersen Medal back in 1984.

A Parcel of Patterns by Jill Paton Walsh (1983) UK

Mall, a young village lass, tells the story of the plague coming to Eyam in Derbyshire in 1645. I’ve been meaning to read this ever since I read Geraldine Brook’s Year of Wonders. This is a much more straightforward telling of how the village sealed itself off from the neighbouring towns so the plague would not spread. Mall is separated from her sweetheart and hope they'll have a future together if and when the plague finishes its deadly course.

Toby Alone by Timothee de Fombelle (2006) (2008 English trans)

I really enjoyed this. Only 1.5mm tall, young Toby is one of the Tree People who inhabit a huge oak tree. Their whole existence is wrapped in a miniature world of the one tree though the borders area does have confrontations from time to time with the unknown Grass People. Toby is on the run, he's not sure what's happened to his parents, but he knows he has to head south. The story tracks back and forth in quite a pleasurable way, though it might be harder for children to follow the twists brought on by this type of narrative style. Beautiful illustrations throughout are by Francois Place. Fans of Roald Dahl's children's books will like this.

Originally published in France the translation has been done superbly by Sarah Ardizzone winning the 2009 Marsh Award for Children's Literature in Translation.
I also have to say that my hard cover edition is a beautiful high quality production. The paper is silkysmooth, the print dark green rather than the usual black, and the strong brown paper like dust jacket unfolds to reveal a poster map of Toby's tree world.

des. 19, 2010, 3:08am

Hey, Dollface by Deborah Hautzig (1978) USA

This is about the adolescent friendship between two girls, Val and Chloe. As their friendship progresses Val becomes unsure of her feelings towards Chloe - is it an attraction. Should she act on it and risk losing her only friend? Who can she get advice from? This could be considered dated as the discussions of sexuality and prejudice are definitely from the 1970s, and today's teens are more informed. But Hautzig's portrayal of Val's feelings is so honest, with all the confusion, turmoil and unsophisticated angst that surely there are still teen readers out there needing a book like this.

Chocky by John Wyndham (1968) UK

I don't think it was written for young people in particular. With a father-narrator we are distanced from Matthew, the son, who seems to have an imaginary friend, Chocky. But Matthew has an alien consciousness communicating with his mind. The parents react differently to Matthew's behaviour, while the father is intrigued, the mother can't accept anything more than the concept of an imaginary friend. As Matthew is adopted, there is an element of nature or nurture to consider as well.
Definitely showing its age, but a good read nonetheless.

The Brothers Lionheart by Astrid Lindgren (1973) Sweden

An attractive new edition by Oxford University Press caught my eye, it's a classic book I've never read before, that's included in 1001 children's books you must read before you grow up.
An appealing story of two brothers, sickly Karl and his older stronger sibling Jonathan, who both die and come to Nangiyala, the land beyond the stars. Here Karl is able to walk and ride horses as he always wanted but even in this world there are darker elements at play. An extraordinary tale of brotherly love, loyalty and hope. I have to admit to being a bit thrown by the ending and do recommend that you read the book before handing it on to sensitive younger readers.

Editat: ag. 8, 2013, 9:35pm

The Spirit Wind by Max Fatchen (1973) Australia

Set in Australia's early days this story is non-stop action. Jarl is determined to jump ship when it reaches South Australia as he has been constantly tormented by the First Mate ever since they left Norway. Even though Jarl makes a big impact on the local community when he lands, the law needs to be obeyed, and it seems most likely he'll have return to the ship. Wonderful descriptions of place, great adult characters especially the vicious mate, Heinrich the Bull, and spiritual Nunganee, the aboriginal.

The Naming of Tishkin Silk by Glenda Millard (2006) Australia

A gem of a story. Griffin Silk struggles a little at school on his first day, up till now he has been homeschooled by his mother along with his 'Rainbow' sisters (now at highschool), but his mother is absent from the family now and so is the baby sister he calls Tishkin (because it's the sound the leaves make when they rustle together). So maybe day two at school will be better if he takes Zeus for company? A delight, Griffin, is such a gentle soul and we follow his journey of recovery and acceptance. The quirky family traditions are so Mother Earth, and his new friend, princess Layla is just the friend he needs. Recommended.

des. 19, 2010, 9:30am

Brothers Lionheart is a tricky book, and one of the popular examples in "what is really suitable for children" discussion...but a common observation is that a child and an adult read that book differently and while it has dark elements, children tend to concentrate on the adventure and kind of phase out stuff like the shocking ending...Lindgren has several books like that, fun adventures where the adult reader however can pick up things which change the tone of the book dramatically.

Editat: ag. 8, 2013, 9:35pm

I've read quite a few since I last posted but will have to look them up.
Those I remember reading include:

Sophie's Misfortunes by Comtesse de Segur (1859)
thanks to a recent Australian edition, with the translation by Stephanie Smee.
This was a fun look at life in 19th century France, Sophie got up to quite a number of unintentional pranks. I ended up buying the omnibus edition of 3 books, The Fleurville Trilogy about Sophie and her friends.
Think of a younger Pippi Longstockings transplanted into French society and you'll get the idea of this one.

Walkabout by James Vance Marshall (1959)
I didn't enjoy this at all and wondered at its inclusion as it feels very dated. Basically taking Southern US racial tensions of the time and transposing them onto a scenario involving two US school children lost in the Australian desert who meet an aboriginal teen on his coming of age dream walk.
Ugh and the film was even worse apart from a few beautiful scenic shots.

The Outsiders of Uskoken Castle by Kurt Held (1941) Germany
Loved this one and would love to have my own copy but while it's readily available in German, it remains very scarce in English. I was lucky to get to read it through an inter library loan.

jul. 9, 2012, 3:52pm

The hounds of the Morrigan by Pat O'Shea (1985)

This is a classic fantasy based on Irish folklore. I've been meaning to read this one for a few years, and since I named my black cat Morrigan earlier this year, I knew this was the time for it.
The Morrígan is goddess of battle, strife, and sovereignty, she sometimes, as in this book, appears as a trio of sisters. Two young children are sent on a quest in west Ireland, into the land of faerie, they are being trailed by the Morrigan's hounds as she also seeks the object they are after, it will give her all her power back and bring destruction to our world. The children are helped by all manner of odd people and beast, some they find later are the one and same - Brigit, goddess of the hearth and Angus Og, god of love and many other wonderful heroes of Irish folklore. The hounds can take on human form which they do from time to time.
I enjoyed this, though at times the quest seemed to be a bit endless, the climax was great and the two children were brave and loyal as well as true to their ages - Pidge is about 11 and Brigit only 5. There is magic, humour and bravery and the three Morrigan sisters had their quirks as well.

Editat: oct. 28, 2013, 6:08am

I need to update this:
In 2012 I also reread The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien
I also read - The Composition by Antonio Skármeta (Chile)
Crusade in Jeans by Thea Beckman (Netherlands)
The Robber Hotzenplotz by Otfried Preussler (Germany)

Editat: ag. 8, 2013, 9:34pm

A traveller in time by Alison Uttley (UK: 1939)

This is a time slip book set in the 1930s and the 16th century. Penelope and her siblings travel from London to stay with their great aunt and uncle to convalesce after a long illness. They live in 'Thackers', an old farmhouse that was once the country home of the Babington family in Elizabethan times. Penelope slips into the past and the time of Anthony Babington who plotted to free Mary, Queen of Scots from the nearby country home that she had been confined to for more than twenty years. She knows the tragic outcome for the Queen as well as for Anthony Babington but is unable to warn him.
I found this a quite nostalgic read, the descriptions were really vivid but the story was a bit plodding with a sense of tragedy in the making overwhelming the story a little too much for me. The actual time slip and her 'ghosting' effect from time to time was really effective. I loved her great-aunt who seemed to be identical in both time eras.

Uttley writes in the foreword that she based the story on her childhood years spent in the area of the manor-house and the stories her father told her of a secret passages underground. The 1586 Babington Plot led to the execution of Mary, Queen of Scots and the conspirators were sentenced to be hanged, drawn, and quartered.

oct. 16, 2013, 4:41am

A hundred million francs by Paul Berna (1955) alternate title The horse without a head
children's fiction

This book has been lying around my house for many years and I decided to finally read it when I pulled it out of a box the other day. The title has always appealed and I don't think I would have felt so inclined to read it if I had a copy titled The horse without a head.
The story is set in an outlying workingclass area of Paris after WW2 and features a gang of children, a train robbery and a battered headless horse/tricycle. All the elements of classic children's literature here with the intrepid children outwitting a bunch of fairly bumbling robbers, along with supportive parents and a distracted policeman. What I really liked was just the simple joie de vivre of the children whose favourite pastime is taking turns to ride the old horse trike down the steepest street in their area. Also Marion, the oldest girl, has trained most of the neighbourhood dogs and adopted numerous strays which comes in handy when dealing with the thugs.
There are a couple more books about this gang of children and I read somewhere that Berna grew up in this area of Paris so really captures the essence of these children and their community. I also have to commend the b&w illustrations in my edition by English illustrator Richard Kennedy, in the notes it says he made his sketches in Paris and this adds to the authenticity.

oct. 28, 2013, 5:54am

The ship that flew by Hilda Lewis (1939)

A timeless magical story for children that I would have loved to have come across as a child. When spending a day in town on his own, Peter finds himself outside an old shop in an unfamilar street. In the window is the perfect model boat that he was after. He soon finds that this is a magical ship that can grow and shrink and fly through space and time. Together with his brother and sisters, they travel through time and have the most marvelous adventures.
There always seems to be one child in these classic children's books with a fixation on food and eating.
From the foreward: Novelist Hilda Lewis created this story when on holiday in Normandy in 1937 with her children as they had nothing to read. It became her first children's book.

Editat: oct. 28, 2013, 6:11am

Talking in Whispers by James Watson (1983)
YA fiction

This book was shortlisted for the Carnegie and won two other awards that I was not familiar with, so then I had to spend considerable time updating LT on the other winners.
Do check out the Buxtehuder Bulle Award and The Other Award, both have some interesting young people's literature on their ranks.
This was also included in the 1001 Children's Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up so another to tick off my list.
It's set in Chile during the time of the military dictatorship. Andes is forced to go into hiding when his father is taken by the military and others are shot dead. Andes is the only one who knows what happened and the truth must be told. What happened in Latin America with the disappeared should never be forgotten and books like these that focus on human rights issues need to stay in print, I just wish his work met a wider audience as his stories are still relevant today.

Editat: gen. 1, 8:28pm

The Turbulent Term of Tyke Tiler by Gene Kemp (1977)
children's fiction

This won the Carnegie Medal and also The Other Award in 1977 and what an unexpected treat. Tyke, along with best mate Danny, is in the last year of primary school. Danny is from a troubled home and also has 'learning difficulties' but Tyke is loyal and supports Danny especially when overhearing that Danny might end up at a special school the following year. The supporting cast in this book includes one of those inspiring teachers that most of us have experienced and only hope that every child will have one at least once when it really matters. There's a great twist in this story that I didn't see coming and makes you want to start the book all over again to see how it could be. One of my favourite parts was when Tyke's father is going to London and asks Tyke what present he could bring back and Tyke asks for a rope. Strongly recommended for readers who enjoy books like A Kestrel for a Knave.

oct. 28, 2013, 6:16am

Listened to The Haunting by Margaret Mahy, a children's book that won the Carnegie Medal years ago. This was a reread.

oct. 28, 2013, 6:17am

The Weirdstone of Brisingamen by Alan Garner (1960)

Tales of Alderley/The Weirdstone trilogy (1) bk 1

This is a great children's fantasy, featuring a wonderful adventure sequence deep in underground mines that had overtones of the LOTR/Hobbit adventures. This was Garner's first book and he set it close to his home and based it on local folktales of an enchanted sleeping army. Danger galore as many of the ordinary people in the village turn out to be on the side of the darker elements such as The Morrigan. Colin and Susan have come to Adderley Edge to stay with their mother's old nurse and her husband while their parents are abroad. They soon find themselves in a fight between good and evil.

nov. 5, 2013, 5:30pm

Agnes Cecilia by Maria Gripe (1978)
YA fiction / Sweden

Gripes won the prestigious Hans Christian Andersen Award in 1974.
Agnes Cecilia is a ghostly mystery that centres around teenaged Nora, who has been sent to live with distant relatives when her parents are killed in a car crash. Her grandparents are not able to have her. Her feelings of isolation and abandonment overwhelm her ability to fit in with her new family and a ghostly presence in her new room in the apartment that the family have just moved to adds to her discomfort. Then there is the mystery behind a doll given specifically to her by an unknown old woman. Really interesting reading and covers an important lesson in misinterpretation of other people's actions and motives. Nora feels abandoned and alone, but really her new family are just acknowledging that she needs space and time to adjust to her new life.

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selnick (2007)
children's fiction

Can finally confess that up until today I hadn't read this book, I've even seen and loved the film. After finishing the documentary novel Countdown the other day I had a hankering to read another book that relies heavily on the visual image. This had spent a couple of years on my bedside table without me once picking it up but I found it yesterday when going through a box of children's books and pulled it out. I knew I'd love it and I did. I also loved the movie. For anyone who loves film this is a great tribute to an early film-maker, Georges Méliès, who realised that film was the ideal medium to bring your imagination (and illusions) to life.

From wikipedia: Georges Méliès (1861 – 1938), was a French illusionist and filmmaker famous for leading many technical and narrative developments in the earliest days of cinema. Méliès, a prolific innovator in the use of special effects, accidentally discovered the substitution stop trick in 1896, and was one of the first filmmakers to use multiple exposures, time-lapse photography, dissolves, and hand-painted color in his work. Because of his ability to seemingly manipulate and transform reality through cinematography, Méliès is sometimes referred to as the first "Cinemagician". Two of his best-known films are A Trip to the Moon (1902) and The Impossible Voyage (1904). Both stories involve strange, surreal voyages, somewhat in the style of Jules Verne, and are considered among the most important early science fiction films, though their approach is closer to fantasy.

gen. 1, 8:28pm

Resolution to update this thread this year.