The children’s laureates’ children’s books.

To mark the tenth anniversary of the Children’s Laureateship, the five writers who have occupied that post, Quentin Blake, Anne Fine, Michael Morpurgo, Jacqueline Wilson and Michael Rosen,  have each chosen their seven favourite children’s books.

 

The list of 35 books, compiled for Waterstone’s, for the British book specialist and current sponsor of the laureateship, is not so much a list of children’s favourites as a list of books that excited laureates’ imaginations when young and that have stuck with them into and through adulthood.

 

Classics such as Richmal Crompton’s Just William, and Rudyard Kipling’s Just So Stories are on the list while more modern material such as the Harry Potter series by JK Rowling was overlooked.

 

Crompton’s character William, Fine, who had the laureateship between 2001 and 2003, has said is “every child’s perfect imaginary companion: lippy, irrepressible and inventive to an almost pathological degree”.

 

Seven titles, including  The Sword in the Stone (TH Whites story of the adventures of the  young King Arthur),  Noel Streatfeild’s  Ballet Shoes, and PL Travers’s classic Mary Poppins, were all written in 1930. This may, as a few commentators have already suggested, have as much to do with the age of the laureates as with the quality of the writing.

 

Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist, first published in 1838, is the oldest title selected, but it is worth noting that one fifth of the books chosen were published in the 19th century.

 

Each laureate chose seven titles, which will be on display at Waterstone’s stores until 3 June

Quentin Blake Little Tim and the Brave Sea Captain, Edward Ardizzone; Queenie the Bantam, Bob Graham; The Box of Delights, John Masefield; Rose Blanche, Ian McEwan and Roberto Innocenti; Five Children and It, E. Nesbit; Snow White, Josephine Poole; Stuart Little, E. B. White

Jacqueline Wilson Little Women, Louisa May Alcott; A Little Princess, Frances Hodgson Burnett; What Katy Did, Susan Coolidge; The Family from One End Street, Eve Garnett; The Railway Children, E. Nesbit; Ballet Shoes, Noel Streatfeild; Mary Poppins, P. L. Travers

Michael Morpurgo Five Go to Smuggler’s Top, Enid Blyton; Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel, Virginia Lee Burton; Oliver Twist, Charles Dickens; Just So Stories, Rudyard Kipling; A Book of Nonsense, Edward Lear; Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson; The Happy Prince, Oscar Wilde

Anne Fine The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, Joan Aiken; Absolute Zero, Helen Cresswell; Just William, Richmal Crompton; Journey to the River Sea, Eva Ibbotson; Lavender’s Blue, Kathleen Lines; A Child’s Garden of Verses, Robert Louis Stevenson; The Sword in the Stone, T.H. White

Michael Rosen Clown, Quentin Blake; The Diary of a Young Girl, Anne Frank; Emil and the Detectives, Erich Kästner; Not Now, Bernard, David McKee; Fairy Tales, Terry Jones; Mr Gum and the Dancing Bear, Andy Stanton; Daz 4 Zoe, Robert Swindells

POSTSCRIPT

The idea for the Children’s Laureate originated from a conversation between (the then) Poet Laureate Ted Hughes and children’s writer Michael Morpurgo. The illustrator Quentin Blake was the first Children’s Laureate (1999-2001), followed by the author Anne Fine (2001-2003), Michael Morpurgo (2003-2005), Jacqueline Wilson (2005-7) and most recently Michael Rosen (2007-2009) The successor to Rosen, the current incumbent, will be announced on June 9

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