11 of the best books for children

The BBC recently came out with a list of the 11 greatest children’s books, as chosen by critics… And it’s an interesting article, but not one that I necessarily agreed with. For instance, I’m sure a lot of people remember Little Women fondly, but I personally found it unreadable when I was a child. And where are the Harry Potter books? So many people my age (myself included) only started reading for pleasure because of them, so surely that should earn them a place on the list! 😦

Anyway, I thought I’d try my hand at making my own list, as a counter to theirs, and I’d really love to hear what you consider to be the best children’s books, too! (And, for the record, when I think of children’s books, I think of the kind of books I would’ve been reading in primary school, so there won’t be any teen books on the list – though I know that, technically, they still count…)

Lemony Snicket//The Bad Beginning11) A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket

An incredibly creative series of books about a trio of orphans trying to solve the mystery of their parents’ deaths, whilst simultaneously being pursued by their distant cousin, the nefarious Count Olaf, who’s after their inheritance.

Dr. Seuss//Green Eggs & Ham10) Green Eggs & Ham by Dr. Seuss

A book that’s most famous for having been written using only 50 words, to settle a bet between Seuss and his publisher over whether it was possible to write a book with so few words. It’s a simple story about somebody who doesn’t like green eggs and ham.

Maurice Sendak//Where the Wild Things Are9) Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

The story of a boy who, after being sent to bed without supper, finds himself on an island inhabited by monsters, who make him their king. An amazingly-written book, with great, atmospheric illustrations, and themes of anger and growth.

J.R.R. Tolkien//The Hobbit8) The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

My favourite book as a child, this tells the story of an ordinary gentlehobbit called Bilbo Baggins, who is manipulated by the wizard Gandalf into going on an adventure with thirteen dwarves, in order to reclaim their homeland from a dragon. Probably one of the best pure adventure books ever written, though some people find Tolkien’s writing prosy.

David Almond//Heaven Eyes7) Heaven Eyes by David Almond

Skellig is the most critically-acclaimed of David Almond’s books, but my favourite has always been Heaven Eyes, which is about a group of friends who escape from their orphanage on a raft, only to find themselves stuck in a bog not too far down the river. They’re rescued by a strange girl called Heaven Eyes, who lives in the boggy island with her grandfather.

Roald Dahl//Matilda6) Matilda by Roald Dahl

Matilda is raised by her abusive parents and brother, and is constantly bullied by the awful Miss Trunchbull, the headteacher at her school. But through her own wits, she manages to forge a happy ending for herself and her friend, Miss Honey. A wonderful story about friendship and resourcefulness.

Dick King-Smith//A Mouse Called Wolf5) A Mouse Called Wolf by Dick King-Smith

There are a lot of Dick King-Smith books I could have chosen, but the one I remember most fondly is A Mouse Called Wolf, which follows the tiny Wolfgang Amadeus Mouse (named for Mozart, naturally), who has a great love for music, and becomes the world’s first singing mouse.

J.K. Rowling//Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone4) Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling

This series really needs no introduction, as it’s famous worldwide, and for good reason! Reading about all Harry’s adventures is the best kind of escapism, and these books left millions of people wishing for their very own Hogwarts letters.

Antoine de Saint Exupéry//The Little Prince3) The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

A pilot stranded in the desert meets a prince from a small asteroid, who tells the tale of his travels on different planets, and the people he met on the way. This book is sombre, but incredibly touching, and all about childhood, and the strangeness of grown-ups.

C.S. Lewis//The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe2) The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

The tale of four siblings, evacuated to the countryside just before the second world war, who find another world by climbing into a wardrobe, and are tasked with saving Narnia from the White Witch. A great story about family, friendship, and loyalty.

Frances Hodgson Burnett//A Little Princess1) A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Sara is made to become a servant at her elite boarding school, after her father dies, leaving her with enormous debts to the school, but she is able to make the most of her situation, befriending the school’s other servant girl, as well as, and keeping her spirits up through imagination and storytelling.

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March Wrap Up

So it seems I’m still on some kind of graphic novel kick, though I think it’s petering out a little. This month, I read a total of 11 comics, 8 novels, 8 short stories, and I also listened to 1 audiobook – so despite going ridiculously overboard with my book-buying, I can at least comfort myself with the thought that I am still reading more books than I’m buying… That said, here’s what I read in March:

Mag Rosoff//Picture Me GonePicture Me Gone by Meg Rosoff. A part-mystery, part-road trip story about a girl who goes to New York with her father, in order to find her father’s missing best friend. There’s a dose of magical realism in the mix, too, as Mila (the main character) has almost supernatural senses, which could (in true Meg Rosoff style) be just as easily interpreted as her simply being incredibly perceptive. I enjoyed the book, and the characters a lot – the mystery elements were perhaps a little predictable, but I felt that the story was really more about Mila’s journey, and how she has to grow in order to find the right answers (and a lot of pondering over whether or not that growth is a good thing). I wouldn’t rank it quite as highly as How I Live Now, but it’s definitely up there, and Mag Rosoff’s writing is as wonderful as ever.4 stars17137639Superboy Vol. 2: Extraction by Scott Lobdell & Tom DeFalco. The Superboy series is fun, but kind of all over the place, and this volume is no exception. It starts off with a couple of issues from The Culling crossover event, which don’t make too much sense on their own, then go on to a couple of brief stories about Superboy (kind of) joining the Teen Titans, and adjusting to life outside N.O.W.H.E.R.E. The Zero issue at the end of the collection was kind of interesting, and I hope that the connection (if there really is one) between Kon and Superboy will be elaborated on eventually…2 starsIsabel Greenberg//The Encyclopedia of Early EarthThe Encyclopedia of Early Earth by Isabel Greenberg. A graphic novel about a storyteller from the Land of Nord, who is travelling the world in search of the missing piece of his soul (and telling a lot of stories on the way). The stories are all incredibly witty, and the art is both cute and distinctive. A fantastic read.5 starsTom DeFalco, Scott Lobdell & Tony Lee//Superboy vol. 3Superboy Vol. 3: Lost by Tom DeFalco, Scott Lobdell & Tony Lee. The beginning was a bit shaky, with more chatter about events from other series, but it picked up a lot during the H’El on Earth tie-in issues (though the end of the storyline was cut off, presumably because it took place in Superman or Justice League, or one of the other series that was part of the H’El on Earth crossover). I enjoyed the dynamic between Superboy and Superman a lot, and the Harvest backstory was interesting, too. I’m looking forward to seeing how the series will move forward from here.3 starsDoogie Horner//100 Ghosts100 Ghosts: A Gallery of Harmless Haunts by Doogie Horner. A cute little book of pictures of ghosts in various different situations. Some of my favourites include the athletic ghost, the ventriloquist, the Fantastic Four, and the mini dachshund. 😀4 starsFanny Britt & Isabelle Arsenault//Jane, the Fox & MeJane, the Fox & Me by Fanny Britt & Isabelle Arsenault. A short graphic novel about a young girl who’s being bullied at school because of her weight, and how she tries to escape from reality by reading Jane Eyre. The story is very short, but powerfully-written, and it reminded me a lot of books like Speak and Wintergirls (both by Laurie Halse Anderson). The artwork really suited the melancholy tone of the book, and the contrast between the black-and-brown shades used to illustrate Hélène’s life, and the full-colour pages that appear when she talks about Jane Eyre was particularly poignant.4 starsLemony Snicket//HorseradishHorseradish by Lemony Snicket. A book of quotes and observations about (at the risk of sounding unoriginal 😉 ) life, the universe, and everything. Very witty, and written in Lemony Snicket’s usual straightforward doom-and-gloom style, which I enjoy – though it does tend to get rather stale after a while, and unfortunately I found myself enjoying the last few sections of the book much less than the first few (although the whole thing only took me about an hour to finish…).3 starsScott Lynch//Lies of Locke LamoraThe Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch. A fantasy novel following the adventures of the con-man Locke Lamora and his crew. Excellently written, though I had a little difficulty getting into it at first, as cons are not a theme that I am entirely comfortable with – somehow, stealing from people who have shown you kindness seems so much worse than stealing from strangers… That said, the con itself was only one part of the story, and everything was woven together so cleverly that it didn’t take me too long to get over myself. Overall, the book was thoroughly enjoyable, and I am looking forward to reading more of Locke’s adventures (and I hope that we will finally be meeting Sabetha in the next book!).5 starsIsabel Greenberg//The River of Lost SoulsThe River of Lost Souls by Isabel Greenberg. A (very) short comic about Charon (the ferryman from Greek mythology), and a human woman who marries him. The art was cute and quirky, and the story was really cute, too (though of course I would’ve liked it to be longer… 😉 ). I’d definitely recommend this to anyone who’s at all interested in Greek mythology.5 starsSarah J. Maas//Throne of GlassThrone of Glass by Sarah J. Maas. The story of an assassin who is taken out of a labour camp in order to compete in a tournament to become the King’s Champion. First of all, let me just say that Celaena is just as amazing a character as people keep telling me she is – snarky and sassy, without it being annoying, and I really liked the fact that, despite being a legendary assassin, she still loves balls and pretty dresses. The romance perhaps developed a little quickly, but I liked both Dorian and Chaol (though at this point I am definitely on Team Chaolaena!), and Celaena’s friendship with Princess Nehemia was particularly enjoyable. 🙂 Plot-wise, it was sometimes a little predictable, and the villains ended up being exactly who I expected them to be, but I feel that the real mystery in this series is going to be Celaena’s past, which I am very intrigued by (and already forming theories about).5 starsEoin Colfer//Artemis Fowl & the Last GuardianArtemis Fowl & the Last Guardian by Eoin Colfer. The final book in the Artemis Fowl series, which follows Artemis the boy genius as he attempts to swindle, and then eventually becomes friends with fairies. In this book, Opal Koboi tries to destroy the world, and Artemis and Holly have to stop her. I thought it was a decent conclusion to the series – though I wasn’t particularly impressed by the very end of the book – and the characters were all spot-on. It was a shame that we didn’t see more of Juliet, but I really enjoyed the insights into Foaly’s relationship, and, of course, the dynamic between Artemis, Holly and Butler. I actually listened to this as an audiobook, which I would definitely recommend, as I was beginning to get tired of the series after the first three books or so, but Nathaniel Parker’s excellent narration really re-invigorated my interest.3 stars

Isabel Greenberg//The Snow Queen & Other StoriesThe Snow Queen & Other Stories by Isabel Greenberg. Another short comic, which re-tells the stories of first The Snow Queen, and then The Emperor’s New Clothes. Both stories were very cute (though The Snow Queen was told in rather more depth), but with the same humourous dash of common sense that I’ve come to appreciate in Isabel Greenberg’s work.4 starsSarah J. Maas//Crown of MidnightCrown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas. The sequel to Throne of Glass, which obviously I can’t tell you all that much (or, in fact, anything) about, because spoilers. But it was definitely an excellent follow-up, with a couple of surprise plot developments (though the major twist at the end was not quite so surprising), and great character and relationship development, particularly for Dorian, who I thought was a bit under-developed in the first book.5 starsSarah J. Maas//Heir of FireHeir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas. The third book in the Throne of Glass series. It was a little odd at first to have all the main characters separated, but it definitely allowed for a whole load of plot development that wouldn’t have happened otherwise. Several new characters: Rowan took a little getting used to (& I was initially afraid that he was going to be another potential love interest…), but he really grew on me, & is now probably one of my favourite characters in this series; Manon, I also really like, and she provides a really interesting new perspective for the story; Sorscha was probably the least interesting of the new characters, but still likeable; and Aedion shifted wildly from being borderline threatening to hilarious (mainly due to his odd relationship with Chaol). I’ve written a whole spoilery discussion of the book here, which you can take a look at if you’re already caught up. 😀 Mostly, though, I am just super, super-impatient for Queen of Shadows to be released.5 starsSarah J. Maas//The Assassin and the PrincessThe Assassin & the Princess by Sarah J. Maas. A brief, but cute scene set between Throne of Glass and Crown of Midnight, where Celaena and Nehemia go shopping together. I enjoyed it a lot (& I can’t help hoping that Celaena will wear that dress sometime in one of the future books, to show off her new tattoos!), but it was very short…4 starsThe Captain & the Prince by Sarah J. Maas. Another short scene between Dorian and Chaol, this one set before they leave for Endovier in Throne of Glass. Basically, just a nice little insight into their relationship… You can read it online here.4 starsThe Assassin & the Captain by Sarah J. Maas. The last of the three extra scenes that Maas has written (though there are also several novellas, of course), set between Throne of Glass and Crown of Midnight, and featuring Chaol meeting Celaena as she arrives back in Rifthold after an assignment. This one was split up into several parts, which can be read online here: Part 1, part 2, part 3 & part 4.4 stars

Sarah J. Maas//The Assassin's BladeThe Assassin’s Blade by Sarah J. Maas. A bind-up of the five prequel novellas for the Throne of Glass series. I’m rating these together because, put together, they ended up making a pretty cohesive story in and of themselves, despite initially being published separately, and also because I’ve done a full review where I talked about each individual story (you can read it here). They all have their strengths and weaknesses, but overall it was solidly written and incredibly enjoyable.4 starsSally Green//Half WildHalf Wild by Sally Green. Wow, did that escalate quickly! 😮 The sequel to Half Bad, which I read late last year, and I’ve been looking forward to this book ever since. Nesbitt and Van were interesting new characters, and I really loved how Marcus’ character has finally been fleshed out. Nathan and Gabriel’s relationship development was great, too, as was Nathan and Annalise’s (though I could never bring myself to trust Annalise entirely). An incredibly quick read, despite being over 400 pages long (I finished it almost in one sitting), a really engrossing story, and a whole ton of emotions, which I felt was the only thing really missing from Half Bad.5+ starsPaullina Simons//Tatiana & AlexanderTatiana and Alexander by Paullina Simons. The sequel to The Bronze Horseman, an epic-length historical romance set in the Soviet Union during World War II. This second book focuses mainly on Tatiana in New York, trying to find out what’s become of Alexander, and on Alexander trying to find a way to escape from the Soviet Union and reunite with Tatiana. As I’ve come to expect from this series, it was in many places incredibly bleak (which is probably why it’s taken me several months to finish), though Tatiana’s storyline at least included some bright spots (such as Anthony, and her friendship with Vikki). There’s not too much else that I can say without risking huge spoilers, but, needless to say, I really loved it, and I’m hoping that The Summer Garden, the last book in the trilogy, will be a little happier.5 starsSimone Lia//Please God, find me a husband!Please God, find me a husband! by Simone Lia. A graphic memoir about the author’s journey to find peace with God (and hopefully also a husband). I don’t really know what I expected from this book, given its title and synopsis (which I clearly did not bother to read before picking this up), but, although I didn’t exactly dislike the book, I found it a bit too preachy for my tastes, and not nearly so funny as I was hoping…2 starsJean Regnaut & Émile Bravo//My mommy is in America and she met Buffalo BillMy mommy is in America and she met Buffalo Bill by Jean Regnaud & Émile Bravo. Another graphic memoir, this one about Regnaud’s childhood growing up without his mother, and always wondering where she is and why he hasn’t seen or heard from her in so long. This was beautifully written, with a great balance of funny and sad moments, as well as a really cute art style.4 starsGrant Morrison//Batman Incorporated vol. 1Batman Incorporated Vol. 1: Demon Star by Grant Morrison. I was a little unsure about whether or not I wanted to read this, because on one hand, I know that important DCU continuity things take place in this series, but on the other hand, I’ve never been a huge fan of Grant Morrison’s writing – mainly because I really, really don’t like the way he’s chosen to portray Jason Todd, and this book is no exception in that respect, though thankfully Jason only made a brief appearance… That said, I enjoyed this a surprising amount. Various different things were going on as Batman & his allies tried to take down the Leviathan cult, but the heart of the story was Bruce’s relationship with his son Damian, which I enjoyed a lot. My only real problem with the series at this point is the artwork, which is pretty ugly, but I’ll definitely be picking up the next volume when it’s available at the library…4 starsJustin Jordan, Scott Lobdell & Michael Alan Nelson//Superboy vol. 4Superboy Vol. 4: Blood & Steel by Justin Jordan, Scott Lobdell & Michael Alan Nelson. This volume is half made up of a story involving Superboy and Doctor Psycho attempting to take on H.I.V.E., which I enjoyed, and the rest of the volume appeared to be some random issues from various crossover events (one with the Superman and Supergirl titles, I assume, and the other with Teen Titans), and although both of these events seemed interesting, there was no real way to determine what was going on, as both stories were incredibly fragmented…3 stars