for writers and readers….

Seven books that convinced me making up stories was a fine thing to do….

On Fridays I am returning to some of my favourite posts from the past. To paraphrase BBC radio: this is your chance to read again…

Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll

I got it the Christmas I was seven and as soon as I finished I turned back to the beginning. It was the first book I read and re-read.

Alice in WonderlandThe Looking Glass is far superior to  Wonderland, by the way. Instead of playing cards, it is chess pieces that come alive and the Thatcher-esque Red Queen is one of the great characters of fiction

The Gauntlet by Ronald Welch

A brilliant historical novel for children

It would be hard to exaggerate the impact this story made when I read it about Year Five of primary school. A boy from the 20th century is transported back to the Welsh border in the 1400s, a time of jousts and chain mail, of moats and battering rams, of hunting with hawks and dying young. I loved it and lived it.

The Sword in the Stone by T.H. White

The Sword in the Stone

A good companion to The Gauntlet. This is the Middle Ages with Merlin, magic and wit.

The Borrowers by Mary Norton

The adventures of Pod, Homily, and Arrietty – the little people who live alongside us. Every time I lose something without having moved from my desk I believe all over again.

The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis

NarniaThe first in the Narnia Series (although the first book actually written was the more famous The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe) which I read as a child and re-read as an adult.  This remains a favourite, but I am also fond of The Silver Chair and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. I’ve tried and tried with The Horse and His Boy and can’t get on with it. I did go off the series in my early teens when I discovered that it was based on the Christ story, but I’ve forgiven C.S.Lewis…

I, Claudius by Robert Graves

I, Claudius by Robert Graves

I was 16 and working as a trainee reporter when I went into a bookshop with my first week’s wages. Staff assured me that, although it looked very high minded, I shouldn’t worry, it was really a Roman soap opera. They were right….in a good way. The next week I was back for Claudius the God.

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

Wild Things

Maurice Sendak wrote about the most perfect 30 words in the English language in Where the Wild Things Are. I didn’t read it as a child, but discovered it when I was reading to my own children. When Max dresses up, it’s not in a costume borrowed from someone’s imagination but in a wolf suit! Sendak had a wonderful ability to get inside a pre-literate, pre-reading child’s head.

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