Wednesday, 6 June 2012

PLUMDOGBLOG AND SOME NEW(ISH) BOOKS FOR CHILDREN


Emma Chichester Clark's PlumDogBlog

I spent some of the bank holiday weekend sorting out the Trefusis bookshelves, trying to make room for new favourites by getting rid of those the Trefusii had grown out of. There are some books, of course, that have woven themselves so firmly into the Trefusis family history, we can't possibly part with them. Biscuit Bear was given to Trefusis Minor when he was born and, along with Where the Wild Things Are, was read to him almost every day for years and years until we both had all the words by heart. No Fighting, No Biting and Green Eggs and Ham have also survived the cull, as has a children's story by Ted Hughes called Shaggy and SpottyThe Tiger that Came To Tea, Mog the Forgetful Cat, all Roald Dahl, of course, and Emma Chichester Clark's 'I love you, Blue Kangaroo' which is now more sellotape than book, so loved has it been.

I'm delighted to hear that there's another Blue Kangaroo story coming in August, called 'Come to School Too, Blue Kangaroo', but in the meantime, have a look at Emma Chichester Clark's adorable blog about the adventures of her dog, Plum. I can't wait to show the Plumdog Blog to The Tiniest Trefusis who is obsessed by dogs, particularly Belgian Waffling's whippet, The Weepette, with whom she spent her 'best holiday ever' and who has become, for the TT, the platonic ideal of dogs, the dog against which all other dogs are judged.

Other books the TT has enjoyed recently include The Astonishing Adventures of Awesome Man, by Michael Chabon (with lovely retro-style illustrations by Jake Parker) - it's a simple, agreeable story featuring a little boy whose alter-ego is Awesome Man, perfect for five year olds. She also liked the latest Judith Kerr - My Henry - in which an old lady daydreams about adventures with her late husband. I don't think it will become a permanent fixture on the Trefusis bookshelves, unlike Mog and The Tiger Who Came to Tea but My Henry would be a particularly good book buy if a grandparent or other elderly relative had died recently - it's sentimental without being at all mawkish and it allows one to have what can be quite a tricky conversation with a small child.


Getting Trefusis Minor to read for himself is incredibly hard - is this just him or are all eight year old boys reluctant readers? I've even bought him Beast Quest in an attempt to get him going. He loves being read to - we've been ploughing our way through the entire Harry Potter oeuvre since last November (now on book five, which feels like progress of sorts, though I can't help but wish the chapters were shorter) and I'm sneaking in my own childhood favourites like Emile and the Detectives and Professor Branestawm at bedtime too. I was beginning to despair that he would ever read independently (well, voluntarily) until he discovered the Tom Gates series, which he's zoomed through. I suppose it's because it's partly a kind of cartoon book - but I don't care, at least he is reading and has found a book that he enjoys.

Does anyone have any suggestions for other books that might capture the imagination of an eight year old boy? Or classics for five year old girls*?


*I will caveat this request- no princesses, nothing pink, and nothing in the Rainbow Fairy series. The TT loves the Rainbow Fairies with a passion, they make me lose the will to live.

16 comments:

Sue said...

Bit old fashioned but The Wolves of Willoughby Chase and the other 400 odd books in the series,maybe? Went down well with my nine year old (can read but won't: arrgh).Sue

Anonymous said...

My smallest girl likes The Worst Witch, My Naughty Little Sister and Milly Molly Mandy for starter chapter books. My own reluctant reader was spurred on by a beano sub and a lot of asterix and tintin.

jongleuse said...

Seven year old boy unfortunately adored Beast Quest but more cheeringly has whizzed through Ottoline (Chris Riddell) all the How to Train Your Dragon books (Cressida Cowell) and Mr Gum (Andy Stanton). I'm also forcing on him lots of my old favourites including the Worst Witch, Mr Majeika, all the Ramonas (Beverly Cleary) and my favourite, Uncle, funny tales of a megalomaniac elephant who blogs! phasewww.talesfromhomeward.blogspot.com
Oh and he has had a long, long tintin phase. Also loves Marcia Williams cartoon retellings of the classics and Shakespeare.

Sarah said...

Thanks for this - will look at the blog as my kids have loved Blue Kangaroo, too. Totally agree with Anon - Asterix and Tintin great. Mine (9 and 5) love the Beano too and fight over it incessantly... my son has loved the Chris Bradford Young Samurai books - full of ninjas etc. Reckon avoid Horrid Henry at all costs, they are awful... we were given a great pop-up Titanic book which got my son into reading too. The Rick Riordan books are great for once he's got going - lots of action. I keep plugging E.Nesbit and The Secret Garden but still...

Rosie said...

Our 8 year old reads William, Swallows and Amazons and The Just So Stories as a result of listening to them constantly on CD (we got ours from audible.co.uk). The CDs have the added benefit of giving him a beautiful accent! Of course, when he chooses his own library books he comes home with Asterix, Tintin, Calvin and Hobbes and The Hardy Boys, but at least there's some good stuff in there, too. He also loves the Shakespeare stories (ours are retold by Andrew Matthews).

Minx Marple said...

I could recommend 'A Hundred Million Francs', and 'Stig of the Dump', perhaps Gerald Durrell's 'The Talking Parcel', & 'Tom's Midnight Garden'. Oh to be eight again!

Ailsa (Topaz Magpie Jewellery) said...

Can't help with the boys I'm afraid, but for your daughter, try Chris Riddell's 'Ottoline' books - my youngest is 11 and still loves them, but they are for younger readers. (Recommended even though he is the author that *didn't* reply to a young fan's letter...)

Knackered Mother said...

Horrible Histories for him, Where's Wally for her (seriously)!

Sarah said...

I'm very grateful for this discussion because I'm in need of new books for my 5 year old girl and I, too, feel my very life force being sapped when faced with a fairy book. What's more, my daughter is called Poppy so well-meaning relatives are always giving her titles from the Princess Poppy series. The PP books are beyond awful, and if I'd known I might have picked a different name for her. Yes they're that bad.

Anyway my recommendation is Charlotte's Web which is divine. We've read the book and listened to the audio CD narrated by EB White himself. It's beautifully written and so charming. We both loved it, and I'm thrilled that she's getting to an age where I can start to enjoy the bedtime stories too. I was concerned that Poppy might be distressed by Charlotte's death but in the event I wept discreetly while she crowed triumphantly. "Mummy I knew it! I knew she was going to die!".

Sue said...

...I had another thought: the Roman Mysteries series by Caroline Lawrence.

Rainbow Prams said...

My favourite children's book at the mo is "Going on a bear hunt" Though I did come across a fab little new book called Skipp The Sailor. xx

Bryony said...

totally go with How to Train Your Dragon series - also Captain Underpants and Horrid Henry. It's a little way off for you, but the original Hitchikers Guide to the Galaxy on CD is a must....

Truf said...

So happy to see "Emile and the detectives" on your list! As a foreigner, I read a totally different set of books at that age - "Pippi Longstocking" and anything by Astrid Lindgren, the "Moomintroll" series, Gianni Rodari.They are fairly hard to find in English, but there is a reason why they are considered classics!

Anonymous said...

I see that Sue recommended the Wolves of Willoughby Chase, and I'd add that Joan Aiken's short stories are also amazing. I must have read the Armitage family stories a hundred times.
Maybe in a couple of years put the youngest girl on to the Susan books by Jane Shaw. My mother and grandmother's habit of giving me their old books is clearly showing. Susan is fantastic though, resourceful, a bit clumsy, generally bright and the antithesis of a modern princess type heroine.

Emma Chichester Clark said...

Thank you for that lovely plug! I have just discovered it. I love your blog.

adele said...

I, too, am a huge fan of Emma C-C and all her works. Love Plumdog. But re your 8 year old, the book that did it for my grandson of the same age is, I'm slightly ashamed to say: DIARY OF A WIMPY KID! He loves those and will become a reader through them, I think. Also popular. David Walliams, Mr Stink and also the Granny one whose name escapes me. Basically anything by David Walliams. But do try Wimpy Kid. The movie, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Roderick Rules is so loved that my grandson won't let me delete it from my Sky+.