Classic Kids Books for All Ages

10 Jan

Tarka the Otter

A number of my close friends, and indeed readers of Nomad News, may be aware of my recent return to a childhood love for all things nature. Particularly furry, mammaly, ottery things. In her recent book, Otter Country, Miriam Darlington talks about the origins of her otter passion, specifically citing Henry Williamson’s Tarka the Otter and Gavin Maxwell’s Ring of Bright Water, which she read as a child. Roger Deakin similarly mentions both books in his wonderful memoir Waterlog, about his journey around Britain via its ponds, streams, pools, lakes, rivers and seas.


I’ve never read either book, but I have seen the film adaptation of Ring of Bright Water. In fact, I think we had it on video when I was a kid, so I think I watched it over and over and over. Darlington and Deakin’s books got me thinking about other children’s books that I’d missed out on and led me to investigate other reads that might still retain those elements of wonder and enjoyment for a more mature audience. There are a few obvious classics: William Golding’s Lord of the Flies; Tolkein’s The Hobbit; Alice and Wonderland of course.  This crossing over from the children’s section into adult fiction is just as common today. Remember all those grown-ups on the tube with their adult versions of Harry Potter? The one with the very grown-up steam train on it, in the mature hues of black and and white? I do. And obviously there’s Twilight and The Hunger Games.

What I was looking for were books like Tarka; those books which revel in that special fascination that animals hold for us when we are children. I’d had a book of Animals Tales as a child, but I’d never read The Jungle Book or Wind in the WillowsSo for the theme for the choices for the next Classic Bookclub will be books about furry and wild things. Starting with Tarka the Otter by Henry Williamson. Further options to follow, so watch this space.


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