Becky says things about … kids’ books

Before I commence, faithful Listener, Stickman has something to say to you.



Oh great, thanks a lot, Sticky. Now can you say that other thing please? And do it properly.



Why do you have to be so difficult about everything?

Anyway, moving on.

I recently gave my friend’s daughter the first Where’s Wally? book for her fourth birthday. She ruddy loved it. Within minutes she was hunched over the glossy pages and musing ‘Where’s Wally on this page?’ (She was soon firmly telling me that she knew exactly where Wally was on every page, because it was ‘in her brain’. I’m sure Stephen Hawking started with an equally momentous educational training.)

I am very much hoping that Where’s Wally? becomes one of little Lily’s favourite childhood books; which has led me to consider my own favourite childhood books, and would you believe it, there’s a list of them RIGHT HERE!



George’s Marvellous Medicine 

 Roald Dahl


Fortunately, this book did not make me want to murder my own grandmother, but it did, however, lead me to make a series of glorious concoctions in the bath, while I was in it, using everything from Dad’s shaving foam, bubble bath, toothpaste, soap, talcum powder, and, on one unfortunate occasion, bleach. Oh yes, I became the Evil Genius of the Bath, swilling around in a murky cocktail of my own satanic invention – until Mum came in and told me to get the hell out and clean it the hell up.




Tom’s Midnight Garden

 Philippa Pearce


A young boy, bored in a 1950s converted mansion house, wakes up on the strike of 13, and ventures out of the back door to find, not a dusty yard with bikes and bins, but a beautiful, verdant Victorian garden and a cast of Victorian characters who have somehow entered his dreams. I would wake at approximately 11pm, creep through the kitchen to the back door, unlock it, and stand irately on our patio opposite the rabbit hutch. What the book didn’t teach me about believing in the power of  my own dreams, it taught me in disappointment.



The book3Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

 C.S Lewis


See Tom’s Midnight Garden, except replace the kitchen door with my wardrobe, and a foot-stomping, baffled frustration at finding not a snow-draped forest and a friendly family of beavers, but a heap of my old school projects on Vikings and the box of Christmas decorations.



Would You Rather 

John Burningham 


Decision-making is one of the most crucial skills a child can learn. Life is crammed with bone-crushingly significant decisions that we are forced to make, so what better way to be trained in this art than considering whether you would rather have breakfast on a river or supper in a castle, or whether you would rather your house be surrounded by jungle, water or fog? In addition, the choices we made in this book may well have given our parents some crucial insight into our developing characters.



Where’s Wally?

  Martin Handford


(Yes, my American chums, this is your Waldo. Let’s not get into that old debate. It is upsetting for us Brits.) I spent many happy hours hunting for Wally as a child, and the books also taught me the first hint of that important adult concept of putting off duties.




The Famous Five

Enid Blyton


These books taught me despair. Reading about a bunch of kids my age being let loose on clifftops and in forests and caves, solving mysteries, catching bad guys and generally having a jolly spiffing time, and knowing that I would never in my entire life have as much fun as they were having, was a pretty hard pill to swallow; not to mention the picnics that Aunt Fanny (snigger) would chuck at them to ensure they had sufficient nutrition for fighting evil. Would I have liked to sit on a grassy knoll with my best chums and eat tinned pineapple, ham rolls, hard boils egg and barley sugars? Yes. Yes I would. book9







The Railway Children

E. Nesbit

Yes, the 1970 film adaptation taught me that it is possible to cry so much at the end of a film that several major organs are at real risk of collapsing, but the book made me want, more than anything, to own a red flannel petticoat. Okay, it also made me desperate to live in a stone cottage in the country and muck about on railway tracks, but I really wanted a red flannel petticoat. Red flannel petticoats, as well as being stonkingly cool, save lives. 


So tell me, Listener! What was your favourite childhood book?

21 thoughts on “Becky says things about … kids’ books

  1. Yes! Tom’s Midnight Garden! I loved that book so much.

    You just reminded me that I wanted to share it with my Things. Thank you!

    I am so excited for *your* book! Two months or two years… If you write it, I’ll read it.

    Make it a great day!

  2. Dear Stickman, you are awesome and I love you!

    Where’s Wally? was always good for a few hours of entertainment. Except for when some evil little person decided to highlight Wally and then proceed to draw rings big enough to circle Saturn around his face. I wanted to find him on my own and now I’ve cheated!

    I had the same feelings about The Famous Five! I would have given anything for those kinds of adventures complete with picnics. Instead I had to settle for waiting until I visited my grandparents during the summer and running around the little grassy banks by their house, talking to the imaginary Five!

    1. Okay, 1) I once got out a Where’s Wally? from the library, and some little s**t had done EXACTLY that with biros and drawn rings round EVERY SINGLE THING you were supposed to find. I was livid. 2) I absolutely also used to have an imaginary Five following me round, particularly on holidays in Derbyshire. Nothing wrong with that. 3) Thank you for your comment and for reading 🙂

  3. Hah! Becky! I’m so glad to see you back on here. I was on here when you posted this yesterday, but caught up in savouring every juicy morsel and by the time I was ready to comment, this had disappeared! Am glad to see it back with the ending and a few extras! Can’t wait for the novel!

    1. Yeaaahhh, that’s first time I’ve done that – pressed ‘Publish’ instead of ‘Preview’. It was a bit like dropping my towel in front of a load of people.
      Thank you for your lovely comment 🙂

  4. There was a book called The Girl With the Silver Eyes which was about telekinesis. I was also obsessed with this book called Limbo, about a kid who goes to live in the New York City subway tunnels. Definitely frightening insights about my ten-year-old self to be gleaned from these selections.

      1. Do it, Becky! Why is it that we remember books we read as kids so much more vividly than books we read as adults? I know I read Finnegan’s Wake in college, but the vicissitudes of its plot? Gone, utterly. However, I can still tell you the story of each of the Little House on the Prairie books.

  5. Loved the midnight garden too – and I had way too many fave books to list but I am attempting to remember them in an attempt to introduce my children to them. L.M. Montgomery was one of my favourite writers, along with Colin Thiele and Ruth Chew…oh once I get started I can’t stop lol

  6. What age group would you say these are for? (I ask because my daughter is a new teacher, 5th grade this year, but 3rd grade next year) I have 3 of the Where’s Wal(do) books that were a lot of fun for all involved! The earliest book I can remember reading by myself was Harold’s Purple Crayon. Reading is such a gift!

  7. Erm.. this is going to be very American of me, but, isn’t a petticoat a puffy kind of slip? Why would you want a red flannel one? Or is it a skirt?
    I’m sure there’s fodder here for another Americans vs Brits rant… haha
    I loved the BFG, Matilda, Encyclopedia Brown, Freckle Juice, Tennis Shoes Among the Nephites, The Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, and There’s a Boy in the Girl’s Bathroom

  8. Lyle the Crocodile; Nancy Drew; The Hobbit; Secret Garden; Mandy (I think that was the name, by Julie (Andrews) Edwards); The Phantom Tollbooth; and James Thurber short stories (no kidding. I begged for someone to read them to me. It was entirely my father’s fault). Then there’s one about the little house that had the city build up all around it and wasn’t happy until it was moved out to the country. I’ve seen a movie version of The Railway Children, but I’m pretty sure it was done later than the 70s: What’s-her-name from Call the Midwife was the mother, the other what’s-her-name played the oldest daughter (she was so young!) and Michael Kitchen was the father (I know his name cuz Foyle’s War is the bee-knees in my book).

  9. There you are! I thought you were dead…this upset me of course, but I was looking at the up side by figuring that my signed first edition of This Ridiculous Life had suddenly shot up in value! I hope the novel is progressing splendidly. Please put me down for a signed copy…actually I’ll just wait till you come to Sydney on your book tour and get one.
    I read every single one of the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew mystery series. They used to last a day if it was a weekend, or 3 days during a school week. The Jungle Book, Rikki Tikki Tavi (a weird but really good story about a mongoose and some nasty ass snakes), The Lord of the Rings of course, Douglas Adams’ Hitch Hikers Guide to the Universe series…guess these were more 11, 12, early teens though. Can’t really remember the names, but I was always reading; my Dad ensured this would happen by refusing to have a TV in the house!

  10. I’m not sure I could pick a favorite, but it does bring back memories of spending every chance I got in our local public library. The day I could get my own library card was a day of pure happiness! Best, Koko 😉

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