Thursday, 5 March 2015

Five reads for March

It's World Book Day, as those endless pictures of kids in amazing costumes on Facebook will attest. In honour of this auspicious occasion, I'm dedicating this month's Five reads to children's literature. But not just any kid fiction, I've gone all out with a top five of the bedtime stories guaranteed to bring a lump to the throat (if not the full-blown heaving sobs).

The Snail and the Whale

Julia Donaldson is a genius, no question. Every one a winner etc, but there's something about the meter of The Snail and the Whale that hits the spot like no other. The kindness of the whale, the way the snail saves the day, the happy ever after ending - if my kids ask me to read this when I'm feeling a bit precious then it's waterworks all the way.


The Ahlbergs have a special place in my heart and my love for their work knows no bounds. Each Peach Pear Plum is one I can recite with my eyes closed, and Burglar Bill and Funnybones are both favourites from my childhood. But Peepo! Oh, Peepo! It conjures up such a dreamy, nostalgic 1940s world. Only recently did I spot the soldier's uniform worn by the baby's father in one of the final pages, reflected in the mirror, a wistful look in both parents' eyes, as he prepared to go off to war. Sob.

Where The Wild Things Are

The bit where it says 'Max wanted to be where someone loved him best of all'. Don't we all?

Who Will Comfort Toffle?

A tale of Moomin Valley centred around shy little Toffle (pictured), who lives on the outskirts, unseen and unloved. Until he meets Miffle, a similarly timid character. It ends happily, but the journey is a heartbreaker.


Classic Shirley Hughes, her illustrations are so evocative and bring a tear to the eye at the best of things. When I asked my friends for their contributions to this list, loads mentioned Dogger, specifically the bit where Dave's sister Bella 'did something very, very kind', and swapped her newly won teddy with the staring eyes for Dogger. Quietly moving.

What would you add to this list? Which bedtime stories make your voice wobble?

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