Katherine Rundell - Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford, and prize-winning author of five novels for children - explores how children's books ignite, and can re-ignite, the imagination; how children's fiction, with its unabashed emotion and playfulness, can awaken old hungers and create new perspectives on the world. This delightful and persuasive essay is for adult readers.
CARTWHEELING IN THUNDERSTORMS
Wilhelmina Silver's world is golden. Living on an African farm with her horse, her monkey, and her best friend, every day is beautiful. But when her home is sold and Will is sent away to boarding school in England, the world becomes impossibly difficult. Lions and hyenas are nothing compared to packs of vicious schoolgirls. Where can a girl run to in London? And will she have the courage to survive?
Fred has always dreamed of becoming an explorer, but when his plane crashes into the Amazon Jungle, he is suddenly left without a choice. With no hope of rescue, the chance of getting home, with the three other children he was travelling with, feels impossibly small. Except, it seems, someone has been there before them...
THE GOOD THIEVES
Fresh off the boat from England, Vita Marlowe has a job to do. Her grandfather has been cheated out of his home and possessions by a notorious conman with Mafia connections. So she devises a plan to outwit his enemies and recover his home. A young pickpocket, working the streets of the city, and two boys with highly unusual skills and secrets of their own are about to be pulled into her lawless, death-defying plan.
ONE CHRISTMAS WISH
It's Christmas Eve, and Theo - left at home with a babysitter - sees an odd-looking star out of his window and decides to make a wish. He wishes that he had some friends to keep him company. Moments later the Christmas decorations begin to disentangle themselves from the tree behind him, ready to wreak a little havoc....
Everyone tells Sophie she was orphaned in a shipwreck. But Sophie is convinced her mother also survived. So she sets out to prove them wrong. On the run from the authorities, Sophie finds the rooftoppers - children who live in the skies of Paris. Will they help her find her mother, before it's too late?
THE WOLF WILDER
Feodora lives in the snowbound woods of Russia. Feo's mother is a wolf wilder, she teaches tamed animals to fend for themselves, and to fight and to run, and to be wary of humans. When the murderous hostility of the Russian Army threatens their very existence, Feo is left with no option but to go on the run.