My Top 5 Children’s Books – A guest blog by Tom Oakes.
Throughout pregnancy, I read books to our unborn child. Words are what shape us. They make us think. Articulate. Inspire. Without the power of words; we are, somehow, missing out. If reading is hard then listen to a book. As a child, I loved reading. As a teenager, I did not. As an adult; I never stop. These are my top five books growing up and the reasons why.
Where the Wild Things Are – Maurice Sendak
My Dad read me this book (published 1963) and when he did not read it then I stared at the pictures. When I learnt to read I still stared at the pictures and absorbed the strange text. Only three hundred and thirty eight words. Composed in a way that inspires my own writing to this day. The story addresses anger. Max has tantrum. Sent to his room. Goes to a magical kingdom to express his wild side. Gets lonely. Comes home. Hot supper waiting for him. It is a magical book and award winning too. Beautifully illustrated. I thumbed my copy, to oblivion, whilst growing up. My son, Otis, was read it numerous times in his Mum’s womb. He is now read it most Saturday mornings. I will never tire of reading it. My all-time favourite picture book, and to my joy it had a movie released in 2009 to compliment it.
The Tiger Who Came to Tea – Judith Kerr
The illustrations are of a time (published 1968) but somehow fit with the old-fashioned story of Dad going to work. A home-based adventure with Mum for the little girl, Sophie, with Dad coming home and taking them all out for dinner. It is a well written and classic story. It regularly reprints today. The size of the tiger in the illustrations is what always excited me. My Mum ran the perfect home growing up, with three of us running amok. A truly amazing woman. Otis and my wife, Lisa, must have ‘adventures’ of their own when I am at work.
Danny The Champion of the World – Roald Dahl
My Dad is my hero. His height and size have always made me look up in awe. Growing up in the country we used to spend endless days at Pete’s Wood in Market Drayton. It was used for rearing pheasants. I was exposed to this life from an early age. I knew about poachers. Country rascals. Country gents. There were characters in my real life who would fit seamlessly into a Roald Dahl book. I have read all his books and I have the complete collection on the bookshelf ready for me to take Otis on a magical journey. I cannot wait to read this book about the bond between father and son and their wonderful adventure together.
Here Comes Charlie Moon – Shirley Hughes
Sadly, I think this book is out of print. It was published in 1980. There are two reasons I have such fond memories of this book. The plot is based around two cousins having fun and adventure over the summer holidays. From aged four to fourteen I spent most summers with my cousin in Gloucestershire, or he would come up to Shropshire where I grew up. There were high jinks aplenty and for some reason it always felt like the sun was shining and we never wanted the days to end. Secondly this was the first book we read as a class at Infant School. I remember reading aloud and enjoying it. I went on to perform in many school plays and always loved the stage. Some books inspire and for me this is the one.
P’tang Yang Kipperbang – Jack Rosenthal
Written by the wonderful and talented UK playwright, Jack Rosenthal. It was a TV play made for the second night of Channel 4 in the early 1980’s. I indulge myself with this entry. This was the play we read in class for our GCSE’S. My final year of childhood at my local grammar school. The story is a simple one. A boy wants to kiss a girl. He loves cricket. He gets to kiss the girl in the school play. The title is based on words from their school gang. It is a brilliantly written play and full of great humour and a good TV movie too. This story was life imitating art on so many levels for me. I loved reading it in class and I felt it represented my own journey from childhood to adulthood. I was just turning sixteen and ready for anything.
Tom is the UK Sales Director for Hinkler Books and has worked in publishing for the last 16 years. He and his wife, Lisa, welcomed their first baby into the world in September last year – a little boy they called Otis. They live in Cheltenham alongside their dog, Trevor. Tom is a book lover, a supporter of Stoke City, and an avid gardener. He is loving every minute of fatherhood. Tom met Jamie (@mamabearofone) during their antenatal classes. Jamie and Lisa bonded very quickly over, and funnily enough Otis and H ended up being born on the same day.