Page last updated at 23:31 GMT, Monday, 27 April 2009 00:31 UK

Children's classics top book list

Jenny Agutter and Sally Thomsett in the fim of The Railway Children
The Railway Children was made into a film starring Jenny Agutter

Classic tales including Just William and The Railway Children dominate a list of best books for young readers, as chosen by children's laureates.

Just five of the 35 books - selected by Quentin Blake, Anne Fine, Michael Morpurgo, Jacqueline Wilson and Michael Rosen - came out in the past 20 years.

A fifth were published in the 19th Century, including the oldest - Charles Dickens's Oliver Twist from 1838.

There was no place on the list for any of JK Rowling's Harry Potter books.

E Nesbit appeared twice on the list - for Five Children and It, chosen by Blake, and The Railway Children, chosen by Wilson.

Robert Louis Stevenson also appeared twice - for A Child's Garden of Verses, chosen by Fine, and Treasure Island, chosen by Morpurgo.


The Box of Delights by John Masefield. Chosen by Quentin Blake
Just William by Richmal Crompton. Chosen by Quentin Blake
Five Go to Smuggler's Top by Enid Blyton. Chosen by Michael Morpurgo
The Railway Children by E Nesbit. Chosen by Jacqueline Wilson
Fairy Tales by Terry Jones. Chosen by Michael Rosen
Source: Waterstone's

Morpurgo, whose books include Kensuke's Kingdom and Private Peaceful, said he "lived and loved" Treasure Island the first time he read it.

"This was the first proper book I read for myself," he said.

"Jim Hawkins was the first character in a book I identified with totally - I was Jim Hawkins."

Seven of the chosen books were from the 1930s, including Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild, TH White's Sword in the Stone and Mary Poppins by PL Travers.

Wilson, who chose Mary Poppins, said: "I would love to be Mary Poppins, admired by everyone, totally in control, never turning a hair even when flying through the air with her carpet bag and parrot-headed umbrella."

The most recent book to make the list was 2008's Mr Gum and the Dancing Bear by Andy Stanton.

Sarah Clarke, of list organiser Waterstone's, said: "I'm sure it will be a surprise to many that the list does not include more recent bestsellers like JK Rowling's Harry Potter.

My fave was always Where The Wilds Things Are. Perfect in every way.
Ban sharks-fin soup, Winchester

"But it's great to see the laureates choosing some timeless greats like The Railway Children and Just So Stories and introducing them to a new generation of readers - that's what the laureates are all about."

The children's laureate prize is awarded to a children's author every two years to celebrate achievement in writing for a young audience.

Current laureate Michael Rosen will shortly end his run in the role, with his successor due to be announced before the end of the month.

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