This list of five books that have stood the test of time covers a fairly wide age range, and though it’s so hard to pick just five titles, these are books that have been read and re-read again and again.
Let’s have a look at five of the best, in no particular order…
1) Harry by the Sea by Margaret Bloy Graham and Gene Zion (Red Fox Picture Books)
Harry is a black and white dog, who loves most things (except baths) and really loves the family day trips to the seaside. On a blisteringly hot day, Harry desperately seeks some shade as the family’s beach umbrella is a little bit too small for a fidgety dog. Try as he might, Harry’s various attempts to find a cool spot on the beach meet with disastrous results, but after a freak wave catches Harry unawares, and covers him with seaweed, Harry finally feels cool.
But does Harry realise that his new seaweed garb has transformed him into Harry the Sea Monster? Will Harry ever find his way back to his family? Such an entertaining tale, sheer brilliance from the golden age of American picture books and one that Charlotte has loved since she was a tiny babe in arms, and still loves today.
2) Not Now, Bernard by David McKee (Andersen Children’s Books)
Monster books never go out of fashion, and it’s incredible to think that this fantastic monstery tale is 30 years old! Wow! Though I was a little old for it when it was first published, I loved reading it to my younger brother and sister and Charlotte can’t resist it either.
It’s the tale of Bernard, a little boy who can’t seem to convince his busy, distracted parents that there’s a monster living in the garden that wants to eat him! Every time he talks to mum and dad, they dismiss him with “Not Now, Bernard!”
Eventually the monster makes good on its promise. What happens next is sheer brilliant inventiveness from David McKee, the genius behind so many iconic children’s characters such as Mr Ben and King Rollo. If you’ve never ‘met’ Bernard, it’s time to grab a copy (before you’re eaten by a hungry monster yourself!)
3) The Giant Jam Sandwich by Janet Burroway and John Vernon Lord (Red Fox Picture Books)
I have a real soft spot for a certain type of children’s picture book art. It’s the slightly surreal and stylised art that was commonplace in the late 1960s and early 1970s and you’ll see it in this fantastic tale. “The Giant Jam Sandwich” tells the story of a quaint and beautiful little village in the heart of the countryside that is visited by a giant cloud of wasps. The wasps are a complete pest and there are so many of them that no villager is safe. After being buzzed, irritated and stung, the villagers come up with a novel plan to rid themselves of the wasp menace once and for all. It’s possibly the most audacious piece of baking you’ll ever see, a gigantic loaf of bread, a colossal heap of butter and a massive dollop of jam to create The Giant Jam Sandwich.
Charlotte loves this, it’s such an exciting nailbiting tale as the villagers rally round and the wasps close in. Can their plan possibly work? You’ll have to read the story to find out (we really really love the end of this tale but won’t spoil it for you!)
4) Fox in Socks by Dr Seuss (HarperCollins Children’s Books)
We couldn’t possibly put together a list of old-time classic children’s books without including at least one Dr Seuss book. Though Charlotte loves them all, “Fox in Socks” is out standout favourite and for me it’s a delight to read aloud as I always like to see just how quickly I can rattle through it before I trip over my own tongue with Seuss’s incredible tongue-twisting rhymes.
That rare example of a book that can actually physically test your mettle. If your mouth doesn’t hurt after reading this, you’re definitely doing it wrong!
5) The Giant Under the Snow by John Gordon (Puffin Books)
John Gordon’s “The Giant Under the Snow” is a dark and fantastic tale of a young girl, Jonquil Winters, and her two friends Arthur (Arf) and Bill, who are drawn into a cataclysmic battle between the forces of good and evil. Elizabeth Goodenough, a witch, saves Jonquil (Jonk) from a vicious black hound, the familiar of a powerful and ancient giant who will rise again and wreak chaos on the world as he rebuilds his ancient kingdom.
Charlotte was completely entranced with this timeless tale, and in particular with Jonquil Winters, a strong and wholly believable character for children to identify with.
Phil and Charlotte May – Read it Daddy We’re ReaditDaddy (AKA Phil and Charlotte), a dad and daughter bookworm team who avidly review books on our children’s book blog (http://readitdaddy.blogspot.com). Daddy loves sci fi stories, comics and steampunk themes while Charlotte loves funny books, history and science books. We started blogging in 2010 but Mummy and I started reading to Charlotte as soon as she was born, and we squeeze in reading and stories together whenever we can. Daddy is currently reading “The Last Policeman” by Ben H. Winters (again) and Charlotte is currently reading “How to Train your Dragon” by Cressida Cowell.