The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
This is a story of an orphaned girl who discovers the beauty of the Yorkshire Moors, the value of friendship, and the magic of gardening. The main characters - Mary, the protagonist, Dickon the child of Nature, and Colin the intellectual are unforgettable; and the minor characters such as Ben the gruff gardener and Dickon's mother, are beautifully drawn too.
The Moomin series by Tove Jansson
Moominvalley is located on the edge of the Gulf of Finland, and the creatures that live there include Moomins, Hemulens, Fillyjonks and their friends. They have a series of adventures; the stories mostly focus on Moomintroll and his friendship with Snufkin, who is a wanderer who doesn't like to have too many possessions, and is almost Zen Buddhist in his thinking. The whole series has a wistful and charming tone, a keen observation of Nature, and the books are beautifully illustrated.
The Iron Wolf by Richard Adams
This is a collection of folktales from all around the world, rewritten for children. One of my favourites is an Italian story about how the birds got their colours, but all the stories are well-written and enjoyable.
'Authors need folk-tales,' Richard Adams says, 'in the same way as composers need folk-song. They're the headspring of the narrator's art, where the story stands forth at its simple, irreducible best. They don't date, any more than dreams, for they are the collective dreams of humanity.'Watership Down by Richard Adams
The gripping story of the journey of five rabbits who escape the destruction of their home warren after Fiver (a shaman-rabbit) has a vision of its impending doom. The friendship of the rabbits, the visionary experiences of Fiver, and the legends of El-Ahrairah, the trickster rabbit hero (who bears more than a passing resemblance to human trickster gods), make this a magical and unforgettable story.
Strandloper by Alan Garner
The story opens with a group of people holding a curiously pagan folk ritual in a church. One of them, William Buckley, has learnt to read, which is regarded as a subversive crime; and he is transported to Australia for blasphemy, where he escapes from the penal colony and goes to live with Aborigines. This is a very evocative look at the similarities and differences between English folk mythology and Australian Aborigine mythology, and the differences between folk religion and revealed religion. The English section of the story is based fairly closely on the facts.
Hide and Seek with God by Mary Ann Moore, Skinner House, 1994
- 29 enchanting tales for four- to eight-year-olds.
- For today's children, a religious vision that is multicultural and non-sexist.
- Includes suggestions for talking about God with children without using dogma
- God comes to life as many things — transcendent mystery, spiritual force, the mother and father of life, peace, and silence, and lightness and darkness.