Top 10 underrated children’s books by famous authors

This is Part III of a Top 30 Underrated Children’s Books (Parts I and II were last week and the week before) because I identified a subcategory of underrated books by authors who rated highly for other things.

1. Willy visits the Square WorldJeffrey Archer, 1980. “I loved it as a kid. As an adult, I was amazed to learn who wrote it” – Graeme Neill.

2. The Novels of Clarice Bean, Lauren Child, 2002-06. She is known for Charlie and Lola, but the Clarice Bean picture books are better (“Robert Granger has no ideas of his own except to copy me”) and the three novels (Absolutely me, Clarice Bean, Clarice Bean conjures up trouble and Clarice Bean, don’t look now) are brilliant works that capture the rhythm and worldview of 10- to 12-year-old children. Also: “The Lauren Child book my kids have loved the most by far is That annoying rat. It’s very funny and moving at the same time – the rat longs to be a pet and to be loved,” said Camilla Redmond.

3. stick figureJulia Donaldsonand illustrated by Axel Scheffler, 2008.”The Gruffalo gets all the merchandise, but the dread of a father trying to get home to see his family is by far her best book,” said Sean Rogers.

4. Rikki Tikki TaviRudyard Kipling, 1894. Short story. “It’s his best work,” said Matt Houghton. “The story of a mongoose in a garden who takes on snakes and saves the life of a child in British India. Told from the mongoose’s point of view.”

5. The elephant and the flowerBrian Patten, 1970. He is better known as one of the Liverpool poets, along with Roger McGough and Adrian Henri. “Poetry and knowledge of life in the guise of a children’s book” – Rob Marchant.

6. Minnow on the sayPhilippa Pearce1955. Better than Tom’s Midnight Garden, according to Wendy Smith: “Slow, graceful adventure and friendship in an English summer. A riddle to solve, a clue to a poem and an intriguing treasure hunt. Thrilling and captivating; my favorite book as a kid.”

7. I conquer the castleDodieSmith1948. She is better known for The Hundred and One Dalmatians. “Perfect coming-of-age story that also captures the passing of the baton from Britain to the US: crumbling castles and over-the-top Americans” – Tim Carrington.

8th. The Painted GardenNoel Streatfeld, 1948. “My absolute favorite as a kid and no one else heard of it,” said Sam Freedman. said Isabel Hardman A vicarage family, “also incredibly little known, is even better”. Lesley Smith preferred Thursday’s kid: “Flawful heroine, dishwasher to success if not fortune.” Debbie Welch likes The fearless darling: “A mixed group of children is brought together to travel through the story.” The children of Primrose Lane is also good. Yet all everyone knows is ballet shoes.

9. The 13 clocksJames Thurber, 1950. “Fantastic – a surreal tale of wit and wit” – David Webb. Thurber, better known as a cartoonist, was blind when he wrote it.

10 RoverandomJRR Tolkien1925. “Almost nobody reads it because they don’t Lord of the Rings, and it’s not set in Middle-earth. But it’s a great children’s story about magic and the moon, and the protagonist is a little dog named Rover. kids love it. Classic fun” – Shaun Gunner. Likewise: Farmer Giles of Ham. “A little novel of the heroism of the English commoner interwoven with Anglo-Saxon mythology. Rather overlooked because of Tolkien’s better known works” – Marginal Gains.

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An honorable mention for nominee Debbie Welch The Rubadub Secret, Enid Blyton, 1951. “There are a number of hidden gems in EB and this is one of them. The main character, Barney, is tricked by someone into doing things that promise to find his estranged father. The emotion and characterization goes far beyond what people associate with EB.”

And for Don Macintyre, who reminded me that Graham Greene was writing The little train, The little fire truck, The little horse bus and The little steamroller, 1946-53; They’re not great works, but perhaps the start of another overlapping top 10 of literary giants who also wrote children’s books.

Thanks for all the nominations: that was my summer reading list, with advice from Katherine Rundell Why you should read children’s books even though you are so old and wise.

Next week: Summer jokes.

Coming up: Jesters as Boris Johnson prepares to leave the stage.

Please send your suggestions and ideas for future Top 10 to me on Twitter or email

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