Among those of us with an interest there seems to be a kind of canon of children’s literature which centres on Narnia and the Moomins and then fans outward. I could talk about the Moomins for a thousand years but what about the books that didn’t make the trip over into my adult life? Here are some of them:

1. The GREEN KNOWE books by Lucy M Boston – stories of an old house and the children who have lived in it. Said children tend to meet each other through time quite a lot. I had a huge crush on one character, whose nature as i) being from the 17thC and ii) being not real made said feelings manageable. The actual books were very sedate with a strong sense of place.

2. BORROBIL by William Donaldson (i think) – two children walk into a wood on Beltane Eve and have a lot of Celtic styled adventures. Unusual in that the child protagonists do very little, they’re pretty much bystanders to most of the real danger, which is oddly comforting. Narnia for pagans, maybe. Borrobil is a comical Bombadil type by the way.

3. The LITTLE HOUSE books by Laura Ingalls Wilder – I was obsessed with these when I was about seven, oddly I guess since I didn’t read any other girl-identified books. The fascinating rhythms of another life, and a slow growth into adolescence, at which point I pretty much lost interest, though read on out of duty. (I think my tipping point was when her sister went blind).

4. A BOOK OF [X] by Ruth Manning-Sanders – the most well-remembered of an awful lot of fairy story books. [x] would stand for Monsters, Witches, Giants etc. Most of the tales were pretty interchangeable. High workrate.

5. THE ROSE AND THE RING by William Makepeace Thackeray – a bit of a cheat since I think I have re-read it again and what had seemed effortless fantasy to small me had become laborious Victoriana. Enjoyably sort-of-revisionist fairytale nonsense with a very satisfying tie-up between the first and final chapters.

6. STALKY AND CO. by Rudyard Kipling – boys being horrible to one another in boarding school, which I read well before I ended up at one myself. The incident I remember most clearly is one of a teacher sucking diptheriac goo out of a boys’ lungs – major ‘ew’ factor. I would like to read it again and may pick up a cheap edition.

7. CAN’T REMEMBER by Can’t Remember – it’s by the same person who wrote a boring book called Abel’s Island, a Robinsoniad involving a mouse in which nothing happens until well over halfway. His OTHER book (the one I actually remember fondly) involved a hobo dog and his life choices and adventures, he plays a piccolo and this made me want one. (A request that was rightly refused). The dog’s name MAY have been Dominic. The book was philosophical in tone.

8. THE BADGERS OF BADGER HILL by Someone Or Other – some badgers defend their hill against the evil tread of man. Post-Watership Down but more kiddy-aimed.

9. BOTTERSNIKES AND GUMBLES by Dunno Mate – Gumbles are round and plump, Bottersnikes are spiky and unpleasant, bite bite bite, fight fight fight. May have been Australian.

10. THE ADVENTURES OF THE LITTLE WOODEN HORSE by Ursula Moray Williams. And Gobbolino the Witch’s Cat which was basically the same book. The same book as Pinocchio if we’re being honest. Sorcerous kitten and toy horse subjected to tear-jerking tribulations in lots of very short chapters.

Next I may do the books I read as a kid that you’d have to pay me to sit through again.