Thursday, October 18, 2012

Favorite Children's and Middle-Grade Authors & Books

So, of all the genres I've reviewed and bragged on, I've hardly published a single post about the books which are most important to readers-- the books for children and middle-grade readers which first turned most of us on to reading.  So, I thought I'd feature some of the books and book series which were my favorites when I was younger and remain some of my favorites today.

The Harry Potter series by JK Rowling
To me and to the millions of other readers young and old who have fallen in love with Hogwarts and its students, Harry Potter is much more than kid-lit.  Nevertheless, I have to credit it with making me into such a voracious reader.  When I was seven or eight and had read through the first four Harry Potters, I set off on this quest to discover a book which I loved even half as much, a character I identified with as much as Hermione Grange, and a magical world even half as incredible.  I never did find one, and still haven't today, but the quest is what first made me such a frequent visitor to the library.  

The Children of the Red King series by Jenny Nimmo
Charlie Bone could be called the next best thing to Harry Potter, and so it was to its pages that my search took me next.  Charlie Bone becomes a student at the clandestine and exclusive Bloor's Academy, where artistically-talented students study alongside students with special powers, "the Endowed", a group of children descended from the mythical Red King.  The series is aimed at younger kids than Harry Potter, I would say, but the stories and the characters are incredible.  I believe there are now seven books, and the series is finally finished.
 The Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis
I think the magical world of Narnia is one best experienced when you're about the Pevensies' age: this is a happier literary place than Harry Potter's world, despite the White Witch and any number of goblins.  My favorite books in the series are: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe; Prince Caspian; The Horse and His Boy; and The Voyage of the Dawn TreaderThe Last Battle is sad and allegorical-- I could almost do without that one.

 The Inkworld Trilogy, The Thief Lord, and other books by Cornelia Funke
Inkheart became my new favorite book when I was ten or so: it was about a girl, Meggie, who could do exactly what I, a shy bookworm, wanted most: to travel into books and call up the characters from their pages into the real world, even to write her own stories into physical being.  I can't tell you how many times I read this book-- recently I saw a girl about the age I was when I first read it reading it for the first time, and I'm glad to see that it's still so popular.

 Matilda and other books by Roald Dahl
Matilda is another MG-lit heroine who loves books and has a magical power herself.  This book was another frequent re-read for me, and I also liked The Witches, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and The BFG.  I still have the Roald Dahl boxset on my bookshelf.  His books are true children's classics.

 The House of the Scorpion and other books by Nancy Farmer
The House of the Scorpion was maybe my first foray into science fiction, or good science fiction.  Anyone, pre-teen or adult, who reads this novel is bound to remember it and its haunting themes and ending forever.  The Sea of Trolls and its Norse-myth-based sequels are fantasy, but equally incredible.  I love the character of Thorgil and, of course, the elves and trolls.

The Wolves in the Walls, Coraline, Instructions, and others by Neil Gaiman
Yep, I discovered Neil Gaiman at a fairly young age.  Coraline was the first I read by him, and the story really impressed me-- it was so much eerier and better written than Goosebumps books, which were my first foray into horror.  I quickly devoured his picture books for younger children, as well... I only wish I'd gotten to read some of his newer books for younger people, like The Graveyard Book (which I read anyway, of course) and The Blueberry Girl when I was reading the others and wishing he had more for kids.  I loved Gaiman's writing style so much that I starting reading his adult books, like American Gods and Stardust.

Did ya'll ever read any of these books as children, teenagers, or as adults?  Which books from your childhood/pre-teenhood are the most memorable to you, or made you into the reader you are today?


Sugar and Snark said...

Wow such a great list! I agree with them all :)

Aylee said...

Oh, excellent! I feel like I missed out on reading a whole ton of really great books included in this list when I was younger and I would really love to read to read them now. I've especially heard great things about the Charlie Bone books! For me, my childhood was characterized by HP, Roald Dahl, Artemis Fowl, and His Dark Materials.

Aylee said...

Oh, and Ella Enchanted! LOVED that book!!

Kat said...

@Aylee-- Oh, Ella Enchanted and His Dark Materials are both favorites of mine-- why didn't I include them?? I'm sure there are a lot that I forgot-- my childhood was also characterized by a lot of voracious reading. :)

Rinn said...

Spot on with this! I think Matilda is a fantastic character because of her love of books.

Liesel K. Hill said...

Awesome list! Love all those! :D

Maria Behar said...

Hey, kat!

This is a GREAT list!! I'm not familiar with all of them, but they're all winners, from what you've written!

I LOVE the Harry Potter books!!!! I have not finished the series, though. That's because, in the middle of book 6, there was a sad event that just hit me very hard...I cried and cried... and couldn't get back to the book. That was about 2 years ago. I haven't been able to go back to finish that book, and so, I haven't gone on to book 7. I think you know what sad event traumatized me so... I won't mention it, because of those people who have yet to read the book.

Hopefully, someday I will be able to finish this book, so I can then go on to finish reading the series. But oh, my heart still breaks....You know, it's the mark of a REALLY GREAT author, when their work can so move a reader!!

Would you believe I own "The Chronicles of Narnia", and have NOT read it? (The copy I featured on "Shelf Candy Saturday" several weeks ago is one of the two that I own.) Shame on me!! Lol. I do want to read it VERY much. It's just that I have SO many books on my TBR now I'm doing blog tours, so that's a commitment.

I have heard of the Charlie Bone books, as well as "Inkheart". I want to read those, too!

As for the others you've mentioned, I'm going to check them out PRONTO!! But from your recommendation (I greatly respect your opinion), they must be absolutely AWESOME!!

Since this comment is already toooo long, I won't go on to tell you which books were special to me during my childhood. Lol. I think I'll write a post about it instead, like you did. So thanks for the inspiration!! : )

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