Toda, I have something a little different to share: a lovely guest post from Lindsay Sedgwick. Lindsay is the author of the Middle Grade series Wulfie; the second book in the series, Wulfie: Beast in Show, was published just yesterday and is available from all good bookshops (here’s the Waterstones link). Today Lindsay is sharing some recommendations for some of her favourite books:
As a child I wanted nothing more than to find a doorway and slip through it into a different time or an alternate world. I’d probably be involved in saving the world from an ancient evil or solving a mystery, and hopefully there would be magical powers or animals, but I think I was also looking for those fantastic friendships at the heart of them.
The key seemed to be that the child or children at the centre of these books was bored and lonely and that somehow, accidentally and unexpectedly, the veil would lift to another world, fantastic adventures and new friendships. My imagination wanted the adventures, my heart wanted the best friends that were to be made through the trials and tribulations leading to success.
This may be why my Wulfie series features a child (Libby) who badly needs a best friend (Wulfie) and doesn’t quite fit in. Yet. And also why she is brave and resilient and creative so whatever troubles they face, she will ultimately save the day – and have great fun doing it. In book one, Stage Fright, she has to find her inner wolf; in book two, Beast in Show, she has to outwit the nastiest villain I’ve created yet!
So, what books would I recommend…?
1. Elsetime, Eve McDonnell’s debut is magical. The central characters are Needle, a mudlark in 1864, a time-travelling crow and Glory, a 12 year old jewellery maker with a prosthetic hand in 1928. The Great Flood of London is about to come… there’s a portal under the bridge that is about to be swept away and limited time to stop the deaths that historically occur. It’s a quirky and fast moving tale of adventure, courage and friendship.
2. Rooftoppers by Katherine Rundell is set up on the rooftops of Paris and I couldn’t put it down. Its heart is a friendship – and adventure – between Sophie – found as a baby floating in a cello – and Matteo, a rooftopper, as Sophie tries to avoid being sent away from her guardian to an orphanage by the Welfare Authorities.
3. E.R. Murray’s series The Book of Learning starts when Ebony’s beloved grandfather dies and she is sent to an Aunt she didn’t know existed. She discovers that her new home is full of secrets and that she belongs to an ancient order of people who have the power to reincarnate… but that’s only the start!
4. From my daughter’s childhood, apart from discovering Roald Dahl – our favourite was The Twits – we found Flat Stanley by Jeff Browne, a series of books about a boy who gets flattened by a bulletin board. It means he can slip under doors, be posted places etc. Amazingly handy!
5. The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper. Steeped in Arthurian and Celtic mythology and set in Cornwall, the series begins with ‘Over Sea, Under Stone’ and three children finding an ancient map in the house that they are staying in. They know it’s special but they are about to discover that it is the key to finding a grail, a source of power to fight the forces of evil known as the Dark. This was my favourite series as a child (9+) – I got one book for each birthday (June) and Christmas so it took me 2.5 years to get the set!
6. For younger readers, the Borrowers series by Mary Norton might appeal. It’s all about a family of tiny people who live secretly in the walls and floors of an English house and “borrow” from the big people in order to survive. It makes you look with new eyes at all the bits and bobs around the house – possibilities for endless arts and crafts, making tiny furniture! And, if the books go down well, there’s the film to follow up with on a rainy day.
7. But not all kids are into fiction or even into stories. Sometimes (like the rest of us) they just haven’t the attention span on a particular day, in which case the Horrible Histories series by T Deary, P Hepplewhite and N Tonge might be handy. There’s also a Horrible Science series for kids more interested in the physical world and Goosebumps by R.L Stine for those kids aged 8-12 who like spooky fiction.
In writing this, I’ve just realised that I did manage to achieve that fantasy I had as a child about travelling in time and space because every time I create a new world and new characters, I slip through a portal in my mind.
Keep safe and well and I hope to see you at end of this pandemic!
Thanks so much to Lindsay for sharing this. The Borrowers and The Dark is Rising were some of my childhood favourites too. What books would make it to your list?