The Magic Faraway Tree, Enid Blyton
Clare Thorp, Grazia contributor, says:
“I spent hours in my bedroom reading these Enid Blyton books about three children who discover a tree near their house with a hidden kingdom at the top. It’s only now I see just how bonkers they were - regular characters Moon Face, the Saucepan Man, Angry Pixie and Mr Watzisname sounded like David Bowie creations. And the land at the top of the tree changed every time the kids went up – one I remember include The Land of Toys, The Land of the Old Woman, The Land of Spells and – my favourite – the Land of Tea Parties.”
The Worst Witch, Jill Murphy
Lauren Murdoch-Smith, Beauty Editor, says:
“Forget Harry Potter, Mildred Hubble was the first lady of magic. I loved her clumsiness, her ability to whip of trouble but get away with it and the idea that there was an actual school for witches! I dreamt of riding a broomstick to get around school!”
The Famous Five, Enid Blyton
Jess Commons, Editorial Assistant, says:
The Famous Five were dead good at solving all kinds of mysteries, and eating potted meat in their sandwiches. Sometimes they were a bit classist about poor people and gypsies though which was definitely NOT COOL. I really wanted to be George because she had Timmy the dog and her own island.
Would it be a bit weird for a bunch of 12 year olds to apprehend smugglers on their un-chaperoned camping trip to the dangerous moors these days? Yes. Yes it would. And that’s why they were ace.
Sweet Valley High, created by Francine Pascal
Emily Maddick, News Editor, says:
Ruled my life from the age of 12 – (ashamedly) 17, okay 18. I had (still have) a collection of over 250 books. Oh yes a library – each one coded and logged if a friend wanted to borrow. I still dream of being like a Wakefield twin “sun-kissed Californian blonde hair, perfect size six figures and eyes the colour of the Pacific ocean.” Jessica was OBV way cooler than her book-worm sister Elizabeth. Their escapades and all American High school Cheerleading antics still enchant me to this day. Sigh.
Malory Towers, Enid Blyton
Zoe Beaty, Senior Features Writer, says:
Darrell Rivers was the coolest kid I knew as a child. She went to a school where every night was a sleepover (in a castle), she had friends called Wilhelmina (Bill for short), enemies called Gwendoline and a surgeon father who could perform impromptu operations in the school sick bay when required.
Darrell was a writer of stories and lyrics, eventually for the whole damn pantomime performed at her school. She occasionally despaired that she would never have a special friend of her own, especially when she was unjustly accused of spitefully destroying Mary-Lou’s fountain pen. She was the reason I begged my mum to send me to boarding school and why I tried to get the kids saying buzzwords like ‘jolly’ and ‘crikey’ when I was eight. Neither went particularly well.
Guilt and Gingerbread, Leon Garfield
Morwenna Ferrier, Features Editor, says:
I first read this book because I liked the cover – dusty pink, with some dated, arty-looking drawings, and went onto read it about 40 times. Deploying the usual fairy-tale plot – young man, with no money, attempts to subvert the entire monarchical system and marry the princess – unlike most children’s books, it also contains a very nasty Faustian twist involving witches and hearts, which comes (most unexpectedly) halfway through. Dark, gory and wonderful, it was a good induction into the grim reality of life. I ended up paying the library’s copy and had to pay a fine. Worth it.
The Deptford Mice, Robin Jarvis
Lottie Lumsden, Deputy News Editor, says:
I was obsessed with Robin Jarvis’ books. First I read the Deptford Mice trilogies, then the Whitby Witches set. They were really bloody scary, and played on all of your innermost fears. They’re all about good versus evil, whether it’s humans, mice, rats, cats, owls… I re-read them recently and they were still as good.