Winning tip: Ruby Red Shoes goes to Paris
My six-year-old daughter Daphne and I love saying au revoir to our four walls and escaping to Paris with Ruby the hare. Ruby Red Shoes goes to Paris by Kate Knapp. Together with her grandmother Babushka, Ruby tries all the delights of Paris: the Eiffel Tower, the Café de Flore, the markets, the fountains and the florists. We dream of the day when we can lie down in a Parisian park eating “buttered baguettes and huge peaches” so delicious they make Ruby feel dizzy. Darling!
Sarah Hamilton, Norwich
Cornelia Funke’s novel Mr. thief It’s a story that captivated me as a child and that my class (I’m an elementary school teacher) still loves to read. Set in the maze of canals in the heart of Venice, this magical story follows two fugitives who join a gang of street children. The setting is the creation of many of the plot’s key moments and evokes this incredible adventure story as children jump aboard barges and lose villains down the alleys. The children camped out in an abandoned movie theater, the stuff of childhood dreams, with faded velvet seats. The Gothic features of historic Venice are richly described. I’ve never been to Venice, but I can imagine it so vividly!
Kirsty Hall, Leeds
The distant tree
Our first foray into “big girl books” with our not four year old took the form of Enid Blyton. The distant tree Serie. In it, Joe, Beth and Franny find a magical tree that transports them to a different land each time they climb it. It’s full of things that preschoolers find fascinating: fairies, elves, talking animals, and, not least, jelly sandwiches. Lockdown certainly makes the idea of being able to run wild with your friends even more fantastic. It’s been great for sparking your imagination and has turned the daily walk into another chance to see Moon-Face, Silky, or (the hugely irritating) Saucepan Man.
H McCulloch, Glasgow
The Krakow doll maker
The comforting Krakow wristband, by RM Romeo, set in war-torn Poland in 1939, takes the reader on an exciting journey to Krakow and the land of dolls. Follow the friendly doll maker who brings a doll named Karolina to life. Together, they confront evil, but discover that they can transform their dark world into one full of light: Krakow becomes the place where lives are saved with magic. Poetically written, but crudely told, it powerfully conveys deep emotion, weaving magic with story. An exquisite read.
Noemi Moleda, Aberdeen
An Earthsea Wizard
Life throws challenges at all of us. What is different about the tests we endure is often the way we process or cope with them. In An Earthsea Wizard, Ursula K Le Guin shows that, even where magic is concerned (or, perhaps, especially there), life throws its threats and difficulties. Here is a book that teaches us how to fight for the good, for ourselves and for others. As Ged perseveres, crafting and testing his magic while being tested himself, we learn that resilience is a superpower that we can all wield, no matter what world we inhabit and what struggles we face.
The Silver Brumby
Elyne Mitchell’s Silver Brumby transported me directly to the Australian bush. The wonderful scenery and descriptions of wildlife in the book really capture the wild and remote terrain of New South Wales, never distracting us from the captivating story of Thowra, the brumby stallion whose life we follow through the pages. Important themes such as friendship, loss, rivalry and conflict with humans are part of the narrative and make it not only a very enjoyable story, but also a timeless book that addresses environmental and social / emotional themes that are so relevant today as they were in 1980.
Antje Saunders, Camden, London
The wonderful Arranmore Island books by Catherine doyle we captured my children, and me, during the confinement, and we are all waiting for the publication of the third book in March. Set on an Irish island in Donegal, where land and sea meet at the edge of the continent, they draw on old myths but update them with great characters and fun dialogue, candlelight time travels, vivid representations of weather dramas and a sense of freedom and exploration that we all long for in today’s times!
Ali Percy, Ruislip
Sydney’s city center and a remote Moroccan town couldn’t seem further away, yet Jeannie Baker mirror shows the similarities of family life and the interconnectedness of our world. The Wordless Book has two parallel stories, read side by side (one from the left, the other from the right): a “mirror” story of two families. The illustrations are photo collages made from a wide range of materials, real enough to touch – it’s impossible not to reach out to feel the animals! There are fascinating details to spot and discuss, providing insight into what is different and familiar in these places. Simply wonderful.
Caroline Picking, Essex
Swallows and Amazon
This confinement is turning into a long adventure for us thanks to Swallows and Amazon. I never read it when I was a kid, but my six-year-old and two-year-old are 24/7 characters (although that character varies constantly!) And each outing has become “an expedition.” We’ve all learned a lot more nautical terminology than we need to know, we’ve read the maps a bit and every buggy ride involves sailing to port and starboard in wheeled containers (rocks). Life feels completely surreal, but kids love that we follow them to their imaginary worlds!
The Strange Stone of Brisingamen
Alan Garner Classic Children’s Tale, with children who undertake a literal journey that, although based on the “real world”, takes you to another place and a million miles from here and now. Not only is it an amazing read for kids and adults alike, it also offers the opportunity to later visit the actual places named in the book around, below, and at the very mystical Alderley Edge in Cheshire. the alderley legend is real enough, as are key locations like The wizard’s inn, Devil’s Grave, Stormy Point and the impressive Edge. A timeless tale for all ages.
Nick Hughes, Sheffield
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism