Sunday, 1 July 2007

101 Children's books, 1840-1975

This is my personal choice of 101 children's books that you may have missed during childhood but might consider catching up on now. Since it is based on my own reading it has a definite UK bias, and I have ruthlessly limited myself to one book by each author (very difficult, which book by Edith Nesbit is really my favourite?) Nonetheless, you can reasonably assume that, where authors have written more than one book, I am confident in recommending their work, although I must add that Enid Blyton only got in by the skin of her teeth. My choice is largely aimed at the older child, so it doesn't include many the excellent books which children read with pleasure, but were not specifically written for them (for instance, Jerome K. Jerome's Three Men in a Boat) and picture books have been ignored, with one or two exceptions, most notably Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are, which ought to be on everyone's reading list. It should be remembered that good illustrations play an important part in children's literature, and some of the books listed below have been illustrated by remarkable artists such as C. Walter Hodges, Charles Keeping and Pauline Baynes; for adult readers I would almost always recommend finding an edition with the original drawings. I've also mostly omitted short stories, choosing only to include a small selection of the most famous. I think the book it hurt most to leave out, because it's so very different from the one by Dodie Smith I chose to include, is The Hundred and One Dalmatians, which ought to be on any list of classic children's books, but if I started listing multiple titles by authors, it would go on for ever. The most notable omission is R.L. Stevenson's Treasure Island which is, as far as I am concerned, unreadable, and I think few people now read G.A. Henty's Under Drake's Flag.

The titles below are listed in chronological order and, where a book is one of a series, I have either chosen the first or, occasionally, my own favourite. Readers are bound to find glaring omissions (which may represent authors I should have read, but can't remember, like K.M. Peyton), and I will be delighted to hear about them, and may even be persuaded to add them to the list! Remember that 1975 is the cut-off date, though, which was chosen as the beginning of a period when I was mostly required to read The Very Hungry Caterpillar many times a day! A classic, yes, but not much meat for the hungry adult reader.

Finally, there is information about almost all the authors listed below on Wikipedia and, frequently, information on individual books, so the only links I have included are to my own reviews. Another good site, with bibliographies and cover artwork, is Fantastic Fiction. Either site should offer advice about the order in which series should be read.

[s] denotes at least a sequel or, in many cases, a series; [ss] denotes short stories

First, the two collections I talked about in yesterday's post:
Brothers Grimm, Household Tales (1812) [ss]
Hans Christian Anderson, Fairy Tales (1835) [ss]

Captain Maryatt, Children of the New Forest (1847)
R.M. Ballantyne, Coral Island (1857)
Charles Kingsley, The Water Babies (1863)
Louisa M. Alcott, Little Women (1868) [s]
Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There (1871) [s]
George MacDonald, At the Back of the North Wind (1871)
Susan Coolidge, What Katy Did (1872) [s]
Johanna Spyri, Heidi (1872) [s]
Anna Sewell, Black Beauty (1877)
Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884)
Oscar Wilde, The Happy Prince and Other Tales (1888) [ss]
Andrew Lang, Prince Prigio (1889) [s]
E. Nesbit, Five Children and It (1902) [s]
Rudyard Kipling, Puck of Pook's Hill (1906) [s]
Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows (1908)
L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables (1908) [s]
Frances Hodgson-Burnett, The Secret Garden (1909)
Walter de la Mare, The Twelve Royal Monkeys (1910)
J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan (1911)
Jean Webster, Daddy Long Legs (1912)
Hugh Lofting, Doctor Dolittle (1920) [s]
Eleanor Farjeon, Martin Pippin in the Apple Orchard (1921) [ss]
Richmal Crompton, Just William (1922) [s]
Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit (1922)
A.A. Milne, Winnie the Pooh (1925) [s]
Henry Williamson, Tarka the Otter (1927)
Erich Kästner, Emil and the Detectives (1929)
Gwynedd Rae, Mostly Mary (1930) [s]
Arthur Ransome, Swallows and Amazons (1930) [s]
Alison Uttley, The Country Child (1931)
Norman Hunter, The Incredible Adventures of Professor Branestawm (1933)
P.L. Travers, Mary Poppins (1934)
Enid Bagnold, National Velvet (1935)
John Masefield, The Box of Delights (1935) [s]
Laura Ingalls Wilder, Little House on the Prairie (1935) [s]
J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit (1936)
Noel Streatfeild, Ballet Shoes (1936) [s]
Elinor Brent-Dyer, The Chalet School and Jo (1936) [s]
Mervyn Peake, Captain Slaughterboard Drops Anchor (1939)
Maria Gleit, Child of China (1939)
Geoffrey Trease, Cue for Treason (1940)
Pamela Brown, The Swish of the Curtain (1941)
Mary Treadgold, We Couldn't Leave Dinah (1941)
Margot Pardoe, Bunkle Began It (1942) [s]
Antoine de Saint-Exupery, The Little Prince (1943)
Violet Needham, The Woods of Windri (1944) [s]
Enid Blyton, The Island of Adventure (1944) [s]
James Thurber, The White Deer (1945)
Elizabeth Goudge, The Little White Horse (1946)
T.H. White, Mistress Masham's Repose (1946)
Tove Jansson, Finn Family Moomintroll (1948) [s]
Dodie Smith, I Capture the Castle (1948)
A.F. Tschiffely, A Tale of Two Horses (1949)
Anthony Buckeridge, Jennings Goes to School (1950) [s]
C.S. Lewis, The Chronicles of Narnia (1950-56) [s]
E.B. White, Charlotte's Web (1952)
Mary Norton, The Borrowers (1952) [s]
Burgess Drake, The Book of Lyonne (1952)
Monica Edwards, Spirit of Punchbowl Farm (1952) [s]
Lucy M. Boston, The Children of Green Knowe (1954) [s]
Rosemary Sutcliff, The Eagle of the Ninth (1954) [s]
Edward Eager, Half Magic (1954)
William Mayne, A Swarm in May (1955) [s]
Gerald Durrell, The New Noah (1955)
Barbara Sleigh, Carbonel (1955) [s]
Diana Pullein-Thompson, Riding with the Lyntons (1956)
Ian Serraillier, The Silver Sword (1956)
Henry Treece, The Children's Crusade (1958)
Michael Bond, A Bear Called Paddington (1958)
Jean Craighead George, My Side of the Mountain (1959)
Alan Garner, The Weirdstone of Brisingamen (1960) [s]
Norton Juster, The Phantom Tollbooth (1961)
Roald Dahl, James and the Giant Peach (1961)
Phillipa Pearce, A Dog So Small (1962)
Madeleine l'Engle, A Wrinkle in Time (1962) [s]
Joan Aiken, The Wolves of Willoughby Chase (1963)
Maurice Sendak, Where the Wild Things Are (1963)
Clive King, Stig of the Dump (1963)
John Rowe Townsend, Hell's Edge (1963)
Nicholas Stuart Gray, Grimbold's Other World (1963)
Ian Fleming, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1964)
Susan Cooper, Over Sea, Under Stone (1965) [s]
John Christopher, Tripods (1967) [s]
Roger Lancelyn Green, The Luck of Troy (1967)
Emile Genest, Myths of Ancient Greece and Rome (1967)
Russell Hoban, The Mouse and His Child (1968)
Ted Hughes, The Iron Man (1968)
Victoria Walker, Winter of Enchantment (1969) [s]
Elisabeth Beresford, Vanishing Magic (1970) [s]
Robert C. O'Brien, Mrs Frisby and the Rats of NIMH (1971)
Peter Dickinson, The Dancing Bear (1972)
Rumer Godden, The Diddakoi (1972)
Richard Adams, Watership Down (1972)
Penelope Farmer, A Castle of Bone (1972)
Andre Norton, The Crystal Gryphon (1972)
Nina Bawden, Carrie's War (1973)
Helen Cresswell, Lizzie Dripping (1973)
Penelope Lively, The Ghost of Thomas Kempe (1973)
Diana Wynne Jones, The Ogre Downstairs (1974)
Jill Murphy, The Worst Witch (1974)
Robert Westall, The Machine Gunners (1975) [s]


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