The Broke and the Bookish. This week is a rewind topic and I've chosen the very first one on the list: childhood favourites.
Most of these are books I remember really loving, but the actual details of them are hazy. I can remember specific scenes and most of the plot, but that's as far as it goes. Also, there is quite a bit of Enid Blyton, because she was one of my mainstays as a child - there is also isn't any Harry Potter, because I was in my mid-teens when I started reading those. And I was about to say that these are books I haven't read since, but I do have the Adventure series as one of my comfort reads (they are amongst Blyton's best work, guys).
1. Matilda by Roald Dahl - my first major book love. Our teacher read it to us when we were in Year One (five-going-on-six) and then I sought it out and read it all by myself. Matilda was my heroine, because she was bookish and she wreaked vengeance on those who wronged her. I know I'm not the only clever bookworm who loved this.
2. The Worst Witch by Jill Murphy - before there was Harry Potter, there was Mildred Hubble and her tabby cat, crashed broomstick and potions mishaps. There was Miss Hardbroom stalking around invisibly, materialising when someone insulted her. There was Ethel turned into a pig (ha!). And there was Mildred saving the day.
3. Mossflower by Brian Jacques - I adored this series, but Mossflower was my favourite. I read my copy constantly until it became soft and battered. I recently tracked down a copy second hand and reread it. It is a lot more brutal than I remembered - though as I recall I quite liked the violence - but just as good. Will definitely be rereading the series.
4. Goodnight Mister Tom by Michelle Magorian - the first book to introduce me to how much novels can hurt you. I'd read Little Women before this, but Beth's fate was as nothing to the death in this book. It utterly poleaxed me. Books were not meant to do that, and they certainly weren't meant to do that to my favourite character. Nor were they meant to feature bad parents or corrupt systems or proof that the world isn't safe for children. This is the book that made me realise books weren't always safe and happy and Blyton-esque.
5. The Girls' Gang by Rose Impey - another one that I read repeatedly but now have little recollection of. Basically, a group of girls get together and seek vengeance on the boys who tease them, because girls are better than boys. Feminism before I was ten. (Though what it would be like on a reread I'm not sure).
6. The Turbulent Term of Tyke Tyler - if Goodnight Mister Tom was my introduction to the fictional death that hurts, Tyke Tyler introduced me to the really good plot twist. The sort that you don't see coming and which makes you review everything you've just read. It was fantastic to read that, and the rest of the book is great as well.
7. My Best Fiend by Sheila Lavelle - why oh why was she still friends with the fiend? And why did people enable the fiend so much? Looking back, this is what I remember thinking (tho I didn't use words like 'enable' back then). The one thing I do remember is the last chapter/short story involving the butterfly project and the fiend finally getting her comeuppance. Ha!
8. The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis - the only Narnia I read for ages and ages, because it was the most fun (I now prefer Prince Caspian because underground resistance movement for the win). And because I'd watched the BBC adaptation with the lion I was sure was real and just dubbed, and the effects that were much better to my child-eyes.
9. The Valley of Adventure by Enid Blyton - the best book in her best series. Screw the Famous bloody Five and their smug middle-class pompous ways, I'd much rather have the kids in these books who are just middle-class (their mother works herself too hard so they can go to boarding school! Cut back the hours and send them to the local day school, love). This book is the most fun of the series, though one of the least preposterous (that's prob The Circus of Adventure because hello circuses and ruritanian royal coups - no, wait, The Mountain because of a madman making wings and trying to throw a teenage boy out of a helicopter). Seriously, I am just going to have to reread and review this series.
10. The Magical Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton - my grandmother got me all three books in one when I was ten and I read it so much the hardcover binding parted ways with the spine. I loved these books, especially the bit where they have to get the tree back from the (?)pixies(?) - someone mean who invades, anyway - and climb up the tree inside for a surprise attack.
Looking at all of these, the main features of my childhood reading appear to be: magic, rebellions, battles, and girls who kick ass. I quite like that combination.