Ten books for life
By Yvonne Keen
"There are some books that stay with you forever," says Yvonne Keen, top book blogger at Babbleabout. "Maybe given as a Christening or first birthday present, they are with you throughout your childhood, moving with you to your first flat, your second flat and squeezed onto the bookshelf next to Feed your Family for Under a Fiver in your first family home. They are read to your own children and maybe one day handed down to your grandchildren.
In this age of digital books, eReaders and book apps there will always be a place for these literary treasures. Printed on paper, bound in a stiff, hardback cover, with full-colour illustrations inside. Little fingers may have crumpled the pages around the edges, but they will always be treasured. Here are my top ten.
The World of Peter Rabbit – The Complete Collection of Original Tales 1-23 by Beatrix Potter
Once upon a time there was a frog called Mr Jeremy Fisher, a puddle-duck named Jemima, a naughty rabbit called Peter and a very organised and prickly Mrs Tiggy-winkle (“Why! Mrs. Tiggy-winkle was nothing but a hedgehog.”) Follow the adventures of these and many more characters – all animals from the English countryside, watched, admired and given life by Beatrix Potter‘s soft watercolours.
This is a complete set, containing all twenty-three original Peter Rabbit books.
Peter Pan and Wendy by J.M. Barrie, illustrated by Robert Ingpen
Templar Publishing, in collaboration with award-winning illustrator Robert Ingpen, has breathed new life into this well-known children’s classics. It is a complete and unabridged edition of the Peter Pan and Wendy story and there are over seventy beautiful and original illustrations by Ingpen. Take to the skies with Peter, fight hand to hook with Captain Hook and lose yourself in the underground world of the Lost Boys
The Orchard Book of Nursery Rhymes chosen by Zena Sutherland, illustrated by Faith Jacques
No nursery is complete without an edition of nursery rhymes and this particular collection will be cherished long after the cot has gone. Classics, lullabies and counting rhymes are all included such as Pat-a-Cake, Rock-a-Bye Baby, Baa, Baa, Black Sheep and Humpty Dumpty. Nursery rhymes are especially good for reading out loud and sharing – their repetition and rhythm make it easy for children to join in. And as you share these rhymes at bedtime, you’ll be immediately transported back to your own childhood.
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum, illustrated by Robert Ingpen
Dorothy, her dog Toto, Tin Woodman, Scarecrow and Cowardly Lion think that the only person who can help them is the Great Wizard who lives in the Emerald City so they set off down that road of yellow brick. Along the way they have to cross a wide river, pass through a field of heavily scented but poisonous red poppies and overcome the monstrous beasts called Kalidahs. We, and they, discover that it is the journey and the way they face up to its challenges that provides them with what they need most. First published in 1900, this unabridged edition accompanied by over seventy beautiful illustrations, is wonderful. It's another Templar/Ingpen collaboration.
Classic Fairy Tales, told by Berlie Doherty, illustrated by Jane Ray
It is Jane Ray’s illustrations, with dazzling colours, set onto fairylike backgrounds that make this book so special. Delicate silhouette illustrations are reminiscent of Arthur Rackham. All our favourite tales are included – Cinderella, The Sleeping Beauty in the Forest, Beauty and the Beast, Rumpelstiltskin, Rapunzel, Snow White, Aladdin and the Enchanted Lamp, Little Red Riding Hood, The Fire-Bird, Hansel and Gretel, The Frog Prince and The Wild Swans. A beautiful book of fairy tales, perfect for princes and princesses everywhere.
Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
Another stunning production of a classic tale. The text is as the original, first published in 1883, and is accompanied with lavish and evocative illustrations. Jim Hawkins sets sail on the Hispaniola for Skeleton Island having acquired a treasure map from Billy Bones. With him is a mixed crew – good men like Doctor Livesey and Squire Trelawney, scoundrels like Israel Hands and, of course, the infamous Long John Silver. Written from the perspective of Jim Hawkins himself, Treasure Island is a thrilling tale – a real treasure.
The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling
This is a million miles away from the Disney version of The Jungle Book. Immerse yourself in the rich, lyrical and elegant storytelling of Kipling and more beautiful illustrations of Ingpen. The text is the original, so not necessarily an easy read for younger children, but the collection of stories contained within The Jungle Book are wonderful to read aloud – imaginative and hair-raising, and helped, of course, by Kipling’s use of language and rhythm.
Winnie the Pooh – The Complete Collection of Stories and Poems by A.A. Milne. With illustrations by E.H. Shepard
All the Pooh stories in one delightful book – Winnie the Pooh, The House at Pooh Corner, When We Were Very Young and Now We Are Six – perfect to grow up with. We are first introduced to Winnie the Pooh as he is brought down the stairs behind Christopher Robin “bump, bump, bump, on the back of his head”. (Perhaps that explains Pooh’s sometimes foolish ways?) And then, of course, we get to meet all his friends from Hundred Acre Wood – Eeyore, Rabbit, Piglet, Owl, Kanga and Roo – as they play pooh sticks, celebrate Eeyore’s birthday and lay a trap for a Heffalump. Ernest Shepard’s accompanying colour illustrations capture childhood and the English countryside simply and beautifully.
Thomas the Tank Engine – The Complete Collection by Rev. W. Awdry
Another classic collection of stories brought together in a special, anniversary edition which will delight boys of all ages, young and not-so-young! It is beautifully put together with a blue cover and silver lettering on the outer, hard sleeve. This book is built to withstand tough love! Children will be able to identify with Thomas as he grows from being a cheeky little engine, annoying the Fat Controller and the other engines, to one that that earns the title of being ‘really useful’.
A Bear Called Paddington by Michael Bond, illustrated by Peggy Fortnum
“A bear? On Paddington Station?” Mrs Brown looked at her husband in amazement. “Don’t be silly, Henry. There can’t be!” This special 50th Anniversary edition would make a lovely christening present for any child. This adorable little bear from Darkest Peru always tries so hard to do the right thing but doesn't always succeed; accident-prone and able to out-stare anyone at fifty yards. One thing’s for sure, the lives of the Brown family have never quite been the same since they met him at Paddington Station.