Once upon a time: our favourite childhood books

We all have that one book from our childhood that we think about even now. Our arts writers' tell us theirs.

multiple writers
22nd February 2021
Take a trip with our writers' as they reminisce over the childhood books that have stayed with them into adulthood.
George's Marvellous Medicine

As a child, I would always read Roald Dahl’s collection of children’s books including Matilda, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, James and the Giant Peach, Fantastic Mr Fox, The Twits and my favourite, George’s Marvellous Medicine.

Roald Dahl inspired me to start writing my own stories as a child and to this day, I still love watching the re-makes of his books as films. Dahl was an iconic author, weaving his innovative and comedic personality into his stories through his humorous and fascinating characters. Each character was brilliantly crafted for every story, with a name that would exaggerate their distinctive personality such as Miss Trunchbull, a terrifying and strong-minded headteacher and Veruca Salt, an immature and irritating young girl.

Roald Dahl worked alongside illustrator Quentin Blake to bring his stories to life. The illustrations and poetic language made the books very amusing to read, urging any child who reads to speedily turn the page to view the next hilarious drawing and unique conversation.

Waterstones

For me, George’s Marvellous Medicine was a story that told my dream scenario. As a child, it was entertaining to mix the ingredients together when baking or blending all of the shampoos and body washes together in the bath when ‘making potions’. George went to extreme lengths to create something marvellous and when I was younger I wanted to join in on his fun.

Published in 1981, It tells the story of George, a highly mischievous and curious character who plays with random ingredients to produce a mind-blowing creation. When stuck with his scary Grandmother, he decides to make his own medicine for her to take with lotions, creams, paints and anything he can get his hands on!

It’s a delightfully written piece of comedic genius and hopefully, the story will live on through the future generations of children who love to read.

Kiera Furness

The Faraway Tree

Out of all the stories I had the privilege of consuming as a child, my favourite by far was Enid Blyton’s The Faraway Tree series. The series, beginning with The Enchanted Wood published in 1939, follows the adventures of Joe, Bessie and Fanny in the eponymous Enchanted Wood by their home where they discover a giant magical tree growing up into the clouds.

I would spend hours poring over the children’s adventures with the folk of the faraway tree – particular favourites of mine included Moon-Face and the forever busy Dame Washalot – and their journeys from the very top of the faraway tree into one of the ever-changing mystical lands in the clouds, ranging from the terrifying Land of Dame Slap to the Land of Birthdays I was always jealous of. The Faraway Tree series has everything you could possibly want in a children’s story, it is absurd, funny, engrossing and most certainly stands the test of time.

Rachael McCreanor

The Chronicles of Narnia
Waterstones

One of my best childhood memories is my mum reading to me before sleep. I listened with excitement to Winnie-the-Pooh and Anne of Green Gables, but it is Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia that I truly remember to this day. I recall worrying about Aslan’s fate, rooting for Prince Caspian or trying to understand the relationship between characters from different timelines and volumes. Narnia also gave me my first book hangover – I remember crying into a pillow when the last novel ended as if it happened yesterday.

This series, all seven books, was an essential part of my happy childhood - lying on a comfy bed, listening to my mum’s calm voice and following adventures of my favourite characters. Warm feelings and memories associated with these books make me smile every time I hear someone mentioning them. To be honest, I’m not sure if I would enjoy Narnia so much now (because of Lewis’ obtrusive references to The Bible and not puerility), but when I was a six-year-old child, it helped to boost my imagination and see something magical in a grey word.

Maja Mazur

Featured Image: Pinterest

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