are you looking for in a pile of books? If you're between seven
and eleven, probably just about anything. Sometimes I found my
children reading really quite difficult and demanding novels.
Sometimes they had their noses stuck in a tattered old Beano.
So here's a list of things you'll often find lying about second
hand that'll suit you in one mood or another.
Never pass up the chance of a Beano Annual. (You can fall
upon the Dandy and Rupert annuals as well, and any
of the others, but we all know the Beano is King.)
If you see a copy of Clever Polly and the Stupid Wolf,
by Catherine Storr, buy it and read it one last time before
passing it on to someone younger.
My children always loved How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas
Rockwell, though I could never quite bring myself to read
If you ever see a copy of Hating Alison Ashley by Robin
Klein, snatch it up. And I'd buy anything by her, even if
I had to keep it to read when I was older.
can't move on to the slightly older books without admitting that
Enid Blyton was my favourite writer for years and years
(until I discovered Jennings books). I loved the Island of
Adventure and the Circus of Adventure, and all the
Famous Five books. (I could never be doing with the Secret
Seven.) But my very favourite of her books was called The
Boy Next Door. (I even married someone called Kit, like the
hero, which shows you how powerful fiction can be.)
You must have heard the William tapes, read by Martin Jarvis.
Well, don't forget there are dozens of William books, all brilliant.
(I mean that. My favourites are William's Crowded Hours,
and William the Outlaw, but they're all brilliant.) They're
by Richmal Crompton. You find them with all sorts of covers.
Don't miss them.
we're on books where you can collect the whole set, don't forget
Anthony Buckeridge's terrific Jennings books: Jennings
goes to School. Jennings and Derbyshire, etc. If you
ever secretly wanted to go to Hogwart's Academy, try Jenning's
boarding school for size. (And you'll still see plenty of Frank
Richards' Bunter books lying around in second hand
shops. They're boarding school stories too.)
Do you like ghost stories? Try Alison Prince's collections,
especially The Ghost Within, if you can find it.
If you like Harry Potter, you're going to love Similon
by Kathryn Cave.
Don't miss the Bagthorpe Saga, by Helen Cresswell.
The Bagthorpes are a completely batty family. Start with Ordinary
Jack, and Absolute Zero (he's their dog), and after
that every book about them has Bagthorpe in the title.
They are my eldest child's favourite books ever.
One of my passions as a child was Willard Price's Adventure
series: Gorilla Adventure, South Sea Adventure,
African Adventure, and so on. You'll still find loads lying
around in charity shops and jumble sale boxes, and as long as
you bear in mind how old they are (look for the copyright date
in the tiny writing on the front page and do the maths), you'll
probably enjoy them.
No house should be without a copy of Charlotte's Web by
E B White. (The film is not enough. If you see the book,
go for it.)
Robert C O'Brien wrote a book called Mrs Frisby and
the Rats of NIMH. It's wonderful. And I see it around often.
You have probably heard of Noel Streatfeild. Curtain
Up, White Boots, Party Frock, The Circus
is Coming, and several more. Especially if you like books
about performances, don't miss out on these.
people just assume they won't like historical novels. But do have
a go. It's hard to choose between Henry Treece (try Legions
of the Eagle, Viking's Dawn and Viking's Sunset),
Geoffrey Trease (try Cue for Treason) and Rosemary
Sutcliffe (The Eagle of the Ninth, The Witch's Brat).
All three write terrific, nail-biting tales.
Most second hand bookshops get the odd battered paperback by Roger
Lancelyn Green. Look for Adventures of Robin Hood,
Luck of Troy and Myths of the Norsemen.
And when you've finished all that lot, you'll be ready for almost
anything. So look at my list of good reads for even older readers
you're bound to find second-hand, before you leave us and vanish
into teenage and adult reading.