1 Five Have A Wonderful Time
By: Enid Blyton, Dhs38, Magrudys
Blyton’s infamous quintet – tomboy George, wet-blanket Anne, responsible Julian, humorous Dick and canine Timmy – never fail to have adventures, usually involving smugglers’ caves or eerie lighthouses. This story is set in a castle, and the gang aren’t alone. Blyton penned the series between 1942 and 1963 so it’s not always PC, but as long they’re taken with a pinch of salt, The Famous Five remain a must for every child’s book shelf.
2 Charlie And The Chocolate Factory
By: Roald Dahl, Dhs30, Kinokuniya
It may have been turned into a film twice, but nothing beats the book (not even Johnny Depp). Charlie Bucket is a very poor kid who wins a trip to a chocolate factory. He has to share his tour with four other children, each more revolting than the last – but the eccentric Willy Wonka only wants one person for the ultimate prize. One by one, the competitors meet grisly fates, and soon Charlie is the only one left… This book is quite text-heavy, but the colourful descriptions and Quentin Blake’s timeless illustrations make it more enticing than daunting.
3 Terrible Tudors & Slimy Stuarts
By: Terry Deary and Neil Tonge, Dhs46, Kinokuniya
While not strictly a fictitious work, an entry from the Horrible Histories series simply had to be on our list, and we figured we might as well make it a two-in-one special. The perfect solution for any child who thinks history is dull, or who likes blood, guts, gore and ickiness, Deary and Tonge make history fascinating, writing about all the bits school curriculums skim over. Weaved into the varying formats (charts, quizzes, games) are hilarious comic pictures by Martin Brown, meaning even kids with the shortest attention spans won’t get bored.
4 Flour Babies
By: Anne Fine, Dhs24, Kinokuniya
In this Anne Fine classic, each mem-ber of Room Eight is given a sack of cooking flour to look after. They have to ensure that it does not change weight, and if they are planning to leave its side, a babysitter must be arranged. Given that this is a class of troublemakers, the task looks set for disaster. One pupil, however, is not as dense as he looks, and through looking after his flour baby, he quickly realises how tough his mother has had it, especially because his dad walked out when he was a tot. A wonderful book that combines humour and depth with just the right balance.
5 The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe
By: CS Lewis, Dhs39, Kinokuniya
Perhaps the best-known installment of Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia. A war’s on and four siblings are sent to the country to escape London. Via the back of a wardrobe, they stumble upon a magical land where animals talk and terror reigns, thanks to the White Witch. Their job is to restore peace to this complex land. We particularly love the Harper Trophy collectors’ edition for its lovingly executed colour illustrations.
6 The Worst Witch
By: Jill Murphy, Dhs33, Kinokuniya
A good old-fashioned slice of English boarding school fun, with a sprinkling of magic thrown in for good measure. Mildred Hubble is a well-meaning disaster magnet who’s in her first year at Miss Cackle’s Academy for Witches. The young magic-maker seems to be muddling through the term without too many mishaps, until she turns her worst enemy into a pig and all hell breaks loose… This, the first in Jill Murphy’s massively popular series, was penned in the ’70s but is no less charming for it.
7 The Borrowers
By: Mary Norton, Dhs49, Kinokuniya
Sprinkling in undeniable truths – like the fact that you can never find a safety pin despite owning hundreds – this magical yarn is expertly spun, Norton executing more attention to detail than a forensic scientist. The Borrowers live in constant fear of being seen by ‘human beans’, but teenager Arietty is determined to lead a more adventurous life. At times, the tension is palpable; at others, the humour lighter than a Borrower’s footstep.
8 Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire
By: JK Rowling, Dhs46, Kinokuniya
As devout Potter fans, we agonised over which book to choose, but eventually we settled on the fourth in the series. Call us twisted, but this is the point when things get seriously dark – and we like it. The plot centres around the Triwizard Tournament, and Death Eaters pop up menacingly throughout the book. Rowling really surpassed herself with this one, casting a captivating spell and making it one of the most magnetic page-turners we’ve ever come across.
9 Charlotte’s Web
By: EB White, Dhs39, Kinokuniya
Probably responsible for more conversions to vegetarianism than any other book ever written, Charlotte’s Web tells the tale of a loveable young pig who narrowly avoids being turned into bacon thanks to his best friend, Charlotte. A wise, kind spider, she teaches him valuable lessons about life and death that are made all the more poignant by White’s enchanting descriptions of the annual cycle of a farm. Children never forget this book.
10 The Story Of Tracy Beaker
By: Jacqueline Wilson, Dhs24, Kinokuniya
One of our personal childhood faves, this tells the story of a girl who’s seriously naughty – but who can blame her? Taken into care after her mum’s new boyfriend started beating her up, she hasn’t had it easy, and as a result she has developed a tough – and often hilarious – exterior. When a journalist visits the care home to research a feature, Tracy begins to trust an adult for the first time ever, and gradually comes to accept that maybe life doesn’t always have to be tough. The pictures, by Nick Sharratt, are just as fun as the book itself, making it a story kids will read over and over again.