Sussex authors share the books they’d give their 10-year-old self

PUBLISHED: 16:44 13 May 2014 | UPDATED: 16:44 13 May 2014

1. John Vernon Lord; 2. Kate Mosse; 3. Chris Riddell; 4. Peter James; 5. Lynne Truss; 6. Christian Birmingham

1. John Vernon Lord; 2. Kate Mosse; 3. Chris Riddell; 4. Peter James; 5. Lynne Truss; 6. Christian Birmingham


To celebrate International Children’s Book Day on 2 April, an annual celebration of children’s books observed on Hans Christian Andersen’s birthday, we asked some of the county’s best-known children’s writers and illustrators to tell us which book they’d give their 10-year-old self...

John Vernon Lord

Grimm’s Fairy Tales: I loved them when I was ten and still love them now. Many of them are dark and earthy folk stories. When I was a child, they helped me deal with nightmares and come to terms with being scared. They are, however, not for the faint-hearted and those who espouse the ‘politically correct’. They are packed with well-known stories, such as Cinderella, Rapunzel, Hansel and Gretel, The Valiant Little Tailor, Tom Thumb, Rumpelstiltskin, The Golden Goose, Snow White, Jack in the Beanstalk, Little Red Riding Hood, Goldilocks and The Three Bears, and plenty more. What a treat!


Kate Mosse

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott: A wonderful coming-of-age novel set during the American Civil War. The father is absent for most of the novel – leaving Marmee to bring up her daughters alone. I still remember being gripped, being caught up in their stories, weeping and, most of all, cheering Jo on in her refusal to stay at home to get married but instead heading for New York to be a writer. A true classic, it’s the perfect sort of novel to give to any ten-year-old boys, as well as girls.


Chris Riddell

The Hobbit by JRR Tolkein: It’s full of vivid characters such as Tom Bombadil, Gollum and Smaug the dragon, but I was obsessed by Gandalf. The drawing I did of him when I was ten was framed by my mother and still hangs on her wall. We are all Bilbo Bagginses waiting for a grey wizard to sweep us off on an adventure.


Peter James

Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut: It’s written with a sense of childlike innocence, yet it’s intensely powerful. It contains wonderful pearls of wisdom like ‘I don’t know what’s going on and I guess I’m not smart enough to understand if someone were to explain it to me. I think we are being tested by someone or something a whole lot smarter than us, and all I can do is hang around and try and stay calm and friendly until it’s over’. It would grab any ten-year-old.


Lynne Truss

The Golden Treasury of Poetry, edited by Louis Untermeyer: Children are very open to poetry, and this collection is perfect for a ten-year-old, as it will grow with them. It has short, funny poems and rattling ballads, as well as harder pieces by modern poets, such as Elizabeth Bishop’s Fish (“I caught a tremendous fish”). And the original illustrations by Joan Walsh Anglund are delightful. In fact, what a well-named book! It is golden and I’ve treasured it all my life. One of my happiest memories is my mum reading me How They Brought the Good News from Ghent to Aix on my birthday (the day I got the book).


Christian Birmingham

Treasure Island by RL Stevenson, illustrated by NC Wyeth: I really liked old books as a kid (still do) - gilt-blocked covers, bashed corners, tipped-in plates and a loose page at the back to be replaced unread for fear of spoiling the story. I was also a precocious reader, so I’d have liked a beautiful old edition, no matter how shabby, of Treasure Island, with the tremendous illustrations by NC Wyeth. The tattier the better, actually; a book that might have rattled about in the mouldering treasure-chest of a shipwrecked pirate. Not a Kindle edition, you understand; I’d have wanted a book.

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