Children’s Literature: Top Picks

Benedict Welch 11 June 2016

With the UN celebrating International Children's Day last week, Celia Morris celebrates some of the best children's books out there.

1) Geronimo Stilton, Elisabetta Dami

Supposedly written by the eponymous scaredy mouse himself, Geronimo Stilton is a series containing very little not to love — primarily, a journalistic rodent dressed in a green suit and going on adventures that he’d really rather not. (If you’re going to look at any book in this series, make it Four Mice Deep in the Jungle — a true classic.)

2) Cat Royal, Julia Golding

A series set (mainly) in 18th century London that sees Cat Royal — scrappy, argumentative, loveable — living in a theatre on Drury Lane. These are stories about the important things in life: sticking up for people, staying true to yourself, and punching anyone who says otherwise squarely on the nose.

Image: Quentin Blake

3) A Series of Unfortunate Events, Lemony Snicket

Undoubtedly one of the weirdest, most extraordinary series to ever grace the book-bag of nine year old me, and I haven’t found anything written for children since that rivals this particular strain of the bizarre. Seriously — let me know when you next read a book that leaves you puzzling over who wrote it, when and where it is set, and whether Beatrice sank (if you know, you know).

4) The Time Wreccas, Val Tyler

A book that is now sadly out of print, The Time Wreccas is something magical that you should definitely grab if you ever see it going second-hand. I’m pretty sure I still have somewhere the terrible drawings I did of its main protagonist — Snot, one of the many Wreccas that live below our feet, determined to cause mayhem for the Guardians who take care of time for us.

5) Spartapuss, Robin Price

Ancient Rome is ruled by cats and it is everything you never realised you wanted. Although my knowledge of the history is pretty much nil, I have been assured that the series is delightfully accurate — ignoring the overabundance of felines. And, even if not, the puns are irresistible (see other titles in the series: Catligula, Budicat!Die Clawdius, etc…)

6) Fantastic Mr Fox, Roald Dahl

It’s hard for me to consider my favourite children’s books without a dozen by Roald Dahl springing to mind. I’m writing about Fantastic Mr Fox because it’s the first book I can ever remember reading, which has got to be because it lives entirely up to its name: most things by Dahl are fantastic, but especially this story about witty, tricksy Mr Fox.