“Just-One-More-Page Syndrome. I’m talking about the books that made you feel like you knew the characters.”
I listed these as they came to me, but could have gone on and on.
Books that transport me.
- Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin.
- War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy.
- The Far Pavilions by M. M. Kaye.
- A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens.
- The Great Gatsby by F. Scot Fitzgerald.
- The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood.
- The Time Traveller’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger.
- The Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling.
- The Rivers of London series by Ben Arronovitch.
- His Dark Materials series by Philip Pullman.
I love them all for different reasons and enjoy reading them again and again.
Mixed Up Fairy Tales
by Hilary Robinson
This is an unusual, fun take on twelve traditional fairy tales which leads to lots of giggling. A split page book which allows you to mix and match familiar stories to create unexpected new versions. It’s fun for everyone and particularly useful in engaging both less able children and those who speak English as an additional language.
Four Seasons Cookery Book
This is one of my favourite recipe books and it was one of the Observers’ Top 50 Recipe Books of All Time. It was first published in 1970 in the days before glossy pictures became a standard feature of recipes books and I’m glad to say that when they reprinted it they resisted the temptation to add any. It is packed with recipes, tips and facts. As the title suggests the recipes are arranged by season with chapters devoted to appropriate ingredients or dishes. I refer to this book constantly, either when looking for inspiration or to check traditional proportions and quantities when I am adapting recipes. I’d feel lost without it.
Two more Christmas favourites.
By Judith Kerr
Another delightful Mog story from Judith Kerr. Mog is very disconcerted by the disruption of household routines caused by preparations for Christmas and retreats to the roof. A walking, talking tree is the last straw for her and she takes refuge on the roof and refuses to come down. In the end she returns with and unexpected bump. Poignant and funny.
Slinky Malinki’s Christmas Crackers
By Lynley Dodd
I’m a great fan of Lynley Dodd’s Hairy Maclary series. All great stories which play with words and rhymes. Slinky Malinki started as a minor character in Hairy Maclary stories but has now been promoted to having whole books of his own.
Slinky Malinki watches the Christmas tree being decorated and as you would expect he disrupts the proceedings as only he can. “Slinky Malinki, with mischievous glee, crept from the shadows to climb up the tree.” Very funny.
Both simple stories that revolve around the family home familiar to most children. Children love them!
Harvey Slumfenburger’s Christmas Presents
By John Burningham
This was my son’s favourite story for years – and not just at Christmas time, we read it all year round! I knew it off by heart. What better recommendation could there be?
The story starts with Father Christmas arriving home tired, after delivering his presents, only to find that he has missed one. The present is for Harvey Slumfenburger who lives in a ‘hut on top of the Roly Poly mountain, which is far, far away’. Harvey’s parents are too poor to buy Christmas presents so this is the only present he will get. As one of the reindeers is not well Father Christmas sets off on foot to deliver the last present. The story is about his journey, the many types of transport he uses and the mishaps that befall him.
John Burningham’s cartoons are brilliant – perfect for the story and funny. My son loved them. I now read it to my class of 6 & 7 year olds and they love it just as much.
I can only thank John Burningham for the hours of pleasure he gave us over the years.
A Wayne in a Manger by Gervase Phinn
A funny, poignant and captivating collection of anecdotes about Christmas and Nativity plays from Gervaise Phinn the school inspector turned author.
I love Christmas at school and this collection, lovingly retold, capture the excitement, the triumphs and mishaps perfectly. I read my copy every Christmas, the appeal never fades. Whether you are the loving parent of a performer trying to find the costume (in the past I’ve had to make Christmas pudding and turkey costumes) or a teacher coaxing nervous children to say their lines loud enough to be heard or even if you have memories of being in the school Nativity yourself, you will love it!
As my DD started her teacher training in September she will be receiving a copy in her Christmas Stocking.
Resistance by Owen Sheers
This book explores an alternative ending to the Second World War, based in the Home Front of a valley in the Welsh borders. In this version of history the D-Day landing failed allowing a German counter-attack and invasion. Invasion was feared by many, particularly during the summer of 1940, which led to formation of the Auxiliary units of the Home Guard.
At the beginning of the book the able bodied men vanish overnight with no explanation. The bonds between the women left behind grow strong as they pull together to keep their farms running and to cope with the ever changing world of having German patrol stationed in their valley.
The book is beautifully written, from the lyrical descriptions of the Welsh landscapes to the sensitive portrayal of characters struggling with their new reality. A deceptively gentle book which absorbs you completely yet still has the ability to shock.
I really enjoyed it.