I was completely, obsessively animal mad as a kid. I was also forever longing to stumble through a wardrobe into a magical adventure. The choices below reflect this, and the list could easily have been 100 books longer…
The Animals of Farthing Wood – Colin Dann
An epic journey full of danger and disasters ensues as the inhabitants of a threatened wood flee for their lives. I will always love this book for the wonderful personalities of the animals, their loyalty and love for each other, and for the gripping action.
When Farthing Wood is invaded by men with bulldozers and the animals and birds know they have to flee. They must escape to a far-off nature reserve. But the journey is long and hard and not even Fox, their brave and intelligent leader, is prepared for the dangers that lie ahead. (Age 8 up)
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The Hundred and One Dalmatians – Dodie Smith
I think I was more obsessed with the animated film than the book, but its still dear to my heart, a classic animal adventure.
Cruella de Vil is enough to frighten the spots off a Dalmatian puppy. So when she steals a whole family of them, the puppies’ parents, Pongo and Missus, lose no time in mounting a daring rescue mission. Will they be in time to thwart Cruella’s evil scheme, or have they bitten off more than they can chew? (Age 7 up)
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The Sword in the Stone – T. H. White
One for the Harry Potter fans. Witty and wry, very funny and packed with thrills as the future King Arthur finds a tutor in Merlyn and begins to learn about magic, resilience and courage. Featuring probably the best owl in literature, Archimedes.
When the wizard Merlyn comes to tutor Sir Ector’s sons, Kay and the Wart, studying suddenly becomes much more exciting. After all, who wouldn’t enjoy being turned into a fish, or a badger, or a snake? But the Wart is destined for greater things and Merlyn’s magical teachings are only the beginning of his amazing future… (Age 8 up)
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Pure Dead series – Debi Gliori
Very exciting and completely barmy, Debi Gliori’s ‘Pure Dead’ series starts with Pure Dead Magic, wherein we are introduced to the Strega-Borgia clan, living in their Scottish castle like an even more bizarre Addam’s family. Mum’s at witch school, the baby’s been accidentally minimized and sent off by email into the world wide web, and Dad’s been kidnapped by an evil relation. Granny’s in the freezer, the new nanny is suspiciously cheerful, and there’s a gangster in a bunny suit lurking about.
It’s utter chaos. The series continues to grow all the more action-packed and delightfully weird, but sprinkled always with warmth and family love. (Age 8 up)
Paperbacks £7.99 each
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