Inspired by Devon Collection of Children’s Books being exhibited in Exeter Library
By Kira Taylor @kirataylor15
There are many books that have been labelled as “old” and admittedly they are, but there are still hidden gems within the pages. Here are some of my favourites:
- Heidi: this is one of the sweetest books I’ve ever read, but also a story everyone can relate to. With amazing descriptions of the Swiss mountains, it follows the story of a young, sensitive girl, who lives in the mountains with her grandfather and helps Peter to look after the goats. When she is called down to the company of a young, disabled daughter of a gentleman, she becomes a light to everyone’s world.
- The Three Musketeers: if you want something a little more gung-ho, then The Three Musketeers may be what you’re looking for. It has perhaps been made too serious by the BBC series. More accurate, perhaps, is the film version with a giant hot-air-balloon-ship-thing and Orlando Bloom with ridiculously quiffed hair. The book, by Alexander Dumas, although dealing with the unstable politics and religion of 17th century France, is written light-heartedly. From the musketeers getting into a duel seemingly every other page, to d’Artagnan’s dismay at a random conversation in Latin (which is literally written in Latin), it’s so over the top that it makes a brilliant read.
- The Famous Five: a slightly more recent classic that no bookshelf should be without. The comradeship and curiosity of the children is timeless and the adventures are thrilling. They’re not the sort of mysteries you can guess straight away, meaning you become one of the children, sneaking around at night, looking for clues.
- A Christmas Carol: this is the only trip into Dickens’ grim world I’ve ever taken. I found Great Expectations very dense, but the absurdity of A Christmas Carol and the focus on morals and social justice means I really enjoyed this book. It follows Ebenezer Scrooge, a crude and cruel businessman. He is visited by the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future in an attempt to open his eyes to his own wronging and the plight of the people around him.
- Far From the Madding Crowd: this book only really comes into its own reading for a second time round. Undercurrents and subplots build up to massive (and rather surprising) crescendos. Although hard to get into, Hardy’s poetic language is beautiful and paints detailed pictures, making even the simplest scenes works of art. For its time of writing, it’s a controversial plot, with one woman left to choose between the three men who love her. Alcohol, mental illness and class prejudices produce a dramatic backdrop to this farming classic.
There are so many books that could be on this list. WARNING: once you’ve read one, it’s hard to stop.