Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.
PREVIOUS TOP TEN TUESDAY TOPICS:
- May 5: Things I’d Have at My Bookish Party
- May 12: The Last Ten Books I Abandoned
- May 19: Ten Reasons Why I Love… Shakespeare
- May 26: Top Ten Opening Lines
- June 2: Books That Have A Summery Vibe
- June 9: Books I’ve Added to my TBR and Forgotten Why …
- June 16: Books on my Summer TBR
Happy Birthday Top Ten Tuesdays – although I do feel a relative new comer to the party! – and many many thanks to Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl for continuing the series and bringing so many wonderful books and book lovers together in a community! It has been especially valuable to many of us over the last few difficult months in lockdown!
So to celebrate, I can either pick a past TTT topic I’ve done and update it or pick a past TTT topic I wish I’d done, but didn’t get a chance to do. I am choosing the second option because I really really wanted to do the Top Ten Book I Wish I’d read As A Child but didn’t because of, well, life. And this topic is particularly important to me because I teach in a secondary school and I have a six year old daughter, so I do read a lot of young adult work and children’s books! I will try (TRY) to limit myself to no more than two or three books by the same author. CAVEAT – I may have to cheat a little!
Now a warning before we begin, I am not including the Harry Potter series in this for two reasons: one, it wouldn’t have added anything to my reading as a child any way; and two, I fully credit the benefit it has had for getting children reading and the phenomenon it became, and I did get the last few books on publication day, but in all honesty I do not think it is anywhere near as good as many other books out there!
So what does create a book I wish I’d read as a child? A book that creates a sense of joy and awe and mystery is one thing; but also representation – LGBTQIA+, race, women – anything that would have shown me that there was a wider world outside the middle class, white, straight environment I felt strangled by as a chlid.
Let us start by looking at children’s books from my daughter’s collection…
A Child of Books, Oliver Jeffers
Why do I wish I’d read this book earlier? Have you seen those illustrations, those words? The simplicity of the words which are lyrical and potent, the gorgeous use of text as image and the final message of inclusion and wonder and curiosity that books offer us all. It is gorgeous.
The Fox and The Star, Coralie Bickford Smith
As with A Child of Books, this is a beautifully illustrated book, but the message within it of developing independence and growing strength – and growing up – is so delicately and wonderfully handled. It is a modern day fairytale.
Fortunately, The Milk, Neil Gaiman
This is a relatively new one for my daughter – and not her first nor her last Gaiman – and it is a gloriously chaotic and anarchic tale.
The father – who bears an uncanny resemblance to Neil Gaiman himself in Chris Riddell’s wonderful illustrations – heads to the shop to buy milk and on his return home is abducted by aliens, and then by pirates, rescued by a time-travelling stegosaurus, and has a near-death brushes with volcano gods and vampires. Bonkers! Wonderfully bonkers!
Cuckoo Song, Frances Hardinge
Moving into Young Adult fiction, I cannot not mention Frances Hardinge – in fact I intend to twice!
Cuckoo Song is deliciously dark and sinister and creepy as our protagonist strives to uncover who or what she really is as she weeps cobwebs, has an uncannily voracious appetite and causes dolls to scream at her.
And the depiction of the otherworldly is so perfectly rendered! It is my favourite Hardinge.
The Lie Tree, Frances Hardinge
But this novel comes a very close second.
The Lie Tree takes us a little further back in time that Cuckoo Song, back to the nineteenth century struggling to marry faith and science, male and female, truth and falsehood.
And at the heart of it is the wonderful creation of the lie tree itself, growing in darkness, bearing fruit when fed a lie which reveal a truth when eaten.
And this novel, with great delicacy and subtlety, explores the constraints placed on women at that time.
Pet, Akwaeke Emezi
Pet is wonderful!
The character of Jam – transgender, signing – is wonderfully vivid and potent, her blood summoning forth a beast from her mother’s painting. A beast named Pet, intent on hunting down a monster in her town, a monster in her friend’s family.
It is extraordinary.
At one level, it is a thriller; at another it is a parable – or perhaps a warning. And Jam, Pet, Redemption… these are characters who will live with me for ever.
The Rest of Us Just Live Here, Release, Burn by Patrick Ness
What to include from Patrick Ness in this list because there is so much. There is one reasons why I have chosen these three standalone novels above the wonderful Chaos Walking, which I could easily have cited: lgbtqia+ representation and particularly male-male love and relationships.
The Hate U Give, Angie Thomas
Sixteen-year-old Starr lives in two worlds: the poor neighbourhood where she was born and raised and her posh high school in the suburbs. The uneasy balance between them is shattered when Starr is the only witness to the fatal shooting of her unarmed best friend, Khalil, by a police officer. Now what Starr says could destroy her community. It could also get her killed.
Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, this is a powerful and gripping YA novel about one girl’s struggle for justice.
Michael Rosen’s Sad Book
Oh my goodness, this book rips your heart out!
Mental Health. Depression. Loss. Grief.
The story of how Michael Rosen responded emotionally to the death of his son is told with such gut-wrenching candour and honesty!
How important is it for us to grow up knowing that sometimes we get sad – and can do bad and strange things when we do – and that is normal, and there are strategies. And adults feel that way too.
A Monster Calls, Patrick Ness
And there is no way I was going to finish this list without citing another Patrick Ness – A Monster Calls is sublime.
It contains (almost) all the elements that I’ve mentioned above. The Monster that comes walking for Conor O’Malley opens us and him up to the power and wildness of stories, and Conor’s attempts to deal with his mother’s cancer and impending death is portrayed with heart-breaking authenticity.
Add to that the story of the creation of this book begun by Siobhan Dowd and taken on by Ness after her death…
So these are books which I wish I had read as a child. In comparison with Enid Blyton’s Famous Five and Secret Seven, I feel so jealous of my daughter having books of this quality in her world!
I am so looking forward to seeing your celebrations of TTT’s birthday!
Forthcoming Top Ten Tuesday Topics
- June 30: Most Anticipated Releases for the Second Half of 2020
- July 7: Authors I’ve Read the Most Books By
- July 14: Books That Make Me Smile (For any reason! Maybe tell us why? Submitted by Julia @ pagesforthoughts)
- July 21: Book Events/Festivals I’d Love to Go to Someday (Real or Fictional. Submitted by Nandini @ Unputdownable Books)
- July 28: Freebie (This week you get to come up with your own TTT topic!)