Thursday, 22 July 2010

Five Children’s Books You Should Read.

Here is another one of those top 5's I wrote for something else. But am now putting up here.

This one is about children's books

I still read children’s books. It is a little embarrassing, but whenever I’m in a charity shop (or “thrift store” to you Americans), I can’t help heading over to the children’s book section and searching for a Three Investigator or Famous Five book I may have missed out on. Don’t get me wrong, I can read. It’s not that I’ve not got past a certain reading level, it’s just that there is something very satisfying about zooming through a book in (at the very most) a couple of hours. Here are my top 5 favourite children’s books.

5) Archers Goon by Diana Wynne Jones. I first found out about this book as a child from the BBC adaptation that was on at tea-time. I missed the final couple of episodes and couldn’t stop wondering how it turned out. More than a decade later Chris Chinchilla (Art Brut’s original guitarist) lent me his battered copy. I read it as a twenty-something and still thought it was brilliant. I don’t want to tell you the plot as it will spoil it, but you should go seek it out.

4) The Diamond Brothers series by Antony Horowitz. I love this series of books about a dimwitted private detective and his smart-mouthed younger brother. I love puns and wordplay, and these books are full of them. How can you resist a series of books whose titles are all plays on the titles of other famous films and novels? The Falcon’s Maltesers, The Blurred Man, The French Confection, The Geek Who Stole Christmas and South By South East. I’m eagerly awaiting the new novel The Radius Of The Lost Shark.

3) The Three Investigator series by various authors. I’ve loved The Three Investigators since I borrowed The Mystery Of The Haunted Castle from the library when I was seven. What is there not to love about a junior detective agency which has its secret headquarters in a junk yard in Rocky Beach, California? The early books all had a foreword written by Alfred Hitchcock who the trio would always go and visit to tell him about a solved case in the final chapter of the book. When I was growing up, Jupiter Jones was my hero. He still is a bit. In the books he is described as “stocky.” I used to overeat to be just like him (which I also still do a bit).

2) The William Brown series by Richmal Crompton.William is a mischievous schoolboy whose heart is generally in the right place, but he often gets into trouble anyway. And because so many of these books were written over a period of nearly fifty years (1921-1970), with William and his friends remaining the same age, they have also become a fascinating look at how a small village life in England changed over that period. Don’t read them for that reason though, read them because they are hysterically funny.

1) Raging Robots And Unruly Uncles by Margret Mahy. I was given this as a birthday present when I was very young. It has a complicated plot about a family of brothers whose father is trying to educate them to be evil villains, and their cousin Prudence whose father is trying to turn her into a prim and proper lady. It involves a magic doll, an evil robot and a Library/Garden/TV Repair/Bus Service/ Parrot Aviary/ Fortunetelling business. Read this book, if only for the last paragraph. It is one of my favorite paragraphs ever written.


Simes said...

Thank you for referring to them as children's books not kids' books. They all sound fascinating, I shall seek them out for our daughter and enjoy reading them to her.

Unknown said...

I basically read nothing but children's books and non-fiction. I think books for children are superior to adult books in many ways. There's no pretention, just fun and excitement. And often gorgeous pictures. I'd much rather read about someone having a rip-roaring adventure full of derring-do than some boring thriller or romance. Everytime i try and read something grown up i just feel let down and go back to my Dr Seuss collection.

rockingdown said...

I recommend three investigators too.
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