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A misspent childhood regained
on 24 October 2011
The truth is, the books you remember as a kid were probably not remembered because they were great, but because you read them when you were a kid. Anyone else remember the story Apple Pigs? No... exactly. But I remember it with fondness.
The brilliant thing about this 1001... franchise is that it does give you the original artwork of the covers. And just when you couldn't remember whether it was Joan Aiken or Ursula Le Guin you wanted, the index or the page on the book will clarify.
Some of my childhood favourites: the Moomins, the Uncle books about the millionaire elephant (with the absurd Quentin Blake illustrations), Henry Treece's Viking sagas, Mrs Frisby and the Rats of Nimh, Redwall (which drew me in as a young teen purely because of the fantastic cover), Brendon Chase by the mysterious BB, Just William, most of Roald Dahl, as well as a sequence of blistering novels for young teenagers that are so good everyone should read them: To Kill a Mockingbird; Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry; Northern Lights; Noughts & Crosses; Curious Incident of Dog in the Night-Time; Private Peaceful... I could go on.
Not forgetting a glorious selection of picturebooks, which now I enjoy at first-hand with my son. Some of these are a bit more hazy in my past, I have to confess.
I did have the feeling, I must confess, that some of the choices in this book were indiscriminate - there were a couple of token modern representations, when essentially the book is a dip into the past. The contemporary children's book scene is so vibrant and crowded that it really deserves a book on its own; and this is where books themselves discover their own limitations.
However, you will not be able to put this book down for some time once you have picked it up.