In honour of TTT’s birthday, this week’s theme is ‘Favourite Top Ten Tuesdays of the past’. However, this is only my second week of participating and I didn’t really fancy listing ten memes that I didn’t participate in! Instead I thought I’d mark the anniversary by revisiting the very first one. I hope the meme’s hosts at The Broke and the Bookish don’t mind too much.
The first version of this list was very, very long. It needed a huge amount of whittling down but I managed to get round it by only including those books I read before I was 13 (immediately ruling out Harry Potter, Philip Pullman, Oliver Jeffers, and many others….). I was then left with the difficult task of deciding which of the remaining books I loved most: Lady Daisy or The Children Of Green Knowe? The Hollow Tree House or The Borrowers? It was surprisingly hard and I couldn’t help feeling a bit disloyal!
But there you go… Sometimes you have to be ruthless.
Here’s my list:
1. Cruel Kings and Mean Queens by Terry Deary. This was a Christmas present from my aunt when I was about 8 and I read it to death. And then my younger brother read it to death too and refused to give it back (I think he still has it now). If it hadn’t been for this book I’d never have been able to bore my friends and relatives with stories about Edward II getting a hot poker up the bum, King John losing his jewels in the wash, and Queen Anne’s garlicky feet…. The Horrible Histories books also gave rise to a ruddy brilliant TV series which in turn brought us this:
2. All of the Little House… books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I know it’s cheating but I couldn’t pick a favourite (although it might have been Little House In The Big Woods). I got the first couple for my birthday and then repeatedly pestered the staff at my local library to order the rest in from other counties. I’d then read them in a day, hand them back and re-order them again a few weeks later. Those poor librarians must have dreaded my visits.
3. Tristram & Iseult by Rosemary Sutcliffe. This was my favourite of the King Arthur myths. I read several versions, all slightly different, but Rosemary Sutcliffe’s was the best I thought. I seem to remember that she left out the love potion (I might be wrong) and the bit where Iseult gets a piggy-back from a leper. Perhaps this was too smutty for a children’s story?!
4. The Enormous Crocodile by Roald Dahl. I resolved to have only one Roald Dahl book on this list but it was ridiculously difficult to pick the best one. I chose this in the end because it reminds me of my sister who was always firmly on the side of the crocodile. She thought the children were stupid.
5. Lady Daisy by Dick King Smith. When we were studying the Victorians at junior school my teacher used to spend the last half hour of each afternoon reading to us from this book. It was the best bit of the day. I also loved DKS’s animal stories (Wasn’t there one about a boy who hatches an ostrich egg under his pillow? What was that called?).
6. The Hollow Tree House by Enid Blyton. I know they say she was a racist child-hater but so what? I read loads of Enid Blyton books and remember them all fondly, even the horrible, creepy ones. This book made me want to live in a tree.
7. Goodnight Mr Tom by Michelle Magorian. Our class read this together in Year 7 English. One morning some smart-arsed boy announced that he’d read ahead a few pages overnight and a certain character was about to die. It caused a riot. The headmaster was called, detentions were handed out… Absolute carnage.
8. Gobbolino The Witch’s Cat by Ursula Williams. This thrilled me and terrified me at the same time. That poor cat.
9. Funny Bones by Janet and Alan Ahlberg. Surely this matches the great classics for quotability? My cousin and I were singing the skeleton song just the other day… I also loved the Happy Family series.
10. The Railway Children by E. Nesbit. I read this again and again. I saw the film on TV one Saturday afternoon a while ago and sobbed my heart out at the bit with Jenny Agutter on the station platform at the end. I was on my own but it was cringingly embarrassing all the same.