In January I discovered the Pre-1960 Classic Childrens Book Challenge. Like other challenges I didn’t do very well on linking back to the originator and telling what I’d been up to, but the originator didn’t seem to remember to do that herself, either. So I just kept reading them, tryng for one a month. Funnily enough, I set up nearly a dozen books in my to-read list in January, and took most of those off in the summer (I think three were Dickens). By then I had found more I wanted to read, and discovered books that were now classics that I’d not heard of before.
This was my list for 2013 (linked to reviews)
- The Jungle Book
- Treasure Island
- The Incredible Adventures of Professor Branestawm
- The Time Machine
- Island of the Blue Dolphins
- Wrinkle in Time
- White Fang
- The Hobbit
- Beau Geste
- The Princess and the Goblin
- The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
- Five Children and It
- Aesop’s Fables
- The Snow Goose
- A Christmas Carol
I did two books in February, April and August, for some reason. I think it was an accident because Wrinkle in Time and the Time Machine were both classic and time travel, and then again Island of the Blue Dolphins didnt really meet the Pre-1960 designation. I think I did two in August because I was trying to read more books in the ‘Lazy Days’ promotion. Any excuse!
Lately I’ve been thinking I tended to give these classic books lower star ratings on Goodreads than the others I was reading. I think part of it is the language, which can be old-fashioned, another part is the condescending narrative in those of a certain age. Maybe it’s because I tend to read Middle Grade and Tween, and some of them may be written for reading to younger readers. I don’t know. I know it distracted me from the story at times.
I gave Five Stars to: Treasure Island (much better than I remembered); the Time Machine (although I think it is really for much older children – mid teens, perhaps); Island of Blue Dolphins (possibly over-rated); Wrinkle in Time; Beau Geste (although mine is an abridged version for 12 – 16s); and Princess and the Goblin. My lowest rating was 2 for White Fang, which shocked me in its violence, and was not really what I remembered fondly at all. The rest got threes and fours, although for me, four stars is a very good rating.
What did I like best? Treasure Island and Princess and the Goblin were both old favourites which were better than I imagined they would be from this distance. Wrinkle in Time was a new discovery and, six months on, I’m starting to want to read the next in the series, although I’m not sure I was very keen when I first read it. 5 stars usually means I want to read more, though.
15 books: 6 with 5 stars; 3 with 4 stars; 4 with 3 stars and 1 with 2 stars (and one to come – A Christmas Carol)
Will I read more classics next year? Yes, I think so. It’s good to catch up with things I missed first time around and revisit others to compare them with current kids lit. I’ll probably list them on Goodreads Great Middle Grade Reads along with other readers, so if you don’t go there, give it a try!
So… what was my best Classic Read of 2013…
TREASURE ISLAND by ROBERT LOUISE STEVENSON