Today Belinda Murrell has selected her five favourites.
As a child I was a voracious reader, borrowing piles of books from both the school library and our local council library. I was the sort of kid who would stay up half the night reading under my doona with a torch, or bumping into a light pole on my way home from school with my head in a book! So it is very hard to choose just five childhood favourites, which is why a few of these are favourite series! Here goes:
I absolutely loved The Famous Five series by Enid Blyton. I desperately wanted to be George Kirrin, who dressed up as a boy, and together with her beloved dog Timmy and her three cousins, Julian, Dick and Anne, had the most amazing adventures. Like all good children’s books, the parents were always absent, leaving the kids to get on with apprehending criminals, solving mysteries and eating fabulous feasts. The books were laugh out loud funny and full of politically incorrect quirky characters. George even had her own island!
As a child, the book that most fired my imagination was The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis. I loved its enticing mixture of adventure, action and fantasy. My sister and I would dress up in silver chain mail, with swords and bows and arrows, and pretend to be in Narnia. I was enraptured by the idea that it might be possible to pass through a secret door into a magical world, full of talking animals and adventure.
Seven Little Australians by Ethel Turner is a lively, colourful story about the mischievous Woolcott children growing up in 1880s Sydney. I loved its historical setting as an insight into nineteenth century Australian life. The children had a stern father, an army captain who tried in vain to maintain order. Their stepmother was very young and lovely, with her own baby ‘The General’, so struggled to keep her step-children in line. I loved the naughty pranks and mischievous antics of the Woolcott children, especially tomboy Judy, who together with her brother Pip, was always leading the others into trouble.
As a child I had my own pony, so I was horse obsessed! Like many girls I loved pony books, especially the Jill series by Ruby Ferguson. The Jill series of nine books, take the 12 year old Jill Crewe from a complete novice who has just moved to a small English village, to owning her first pony, then learning to ride and becoming a proficient rider, competing at gymkhanas. I loved the character Jill because she was lively, active, independent and funny, working hard and earning her own money to achieve her dreams.
The Nancy Drew series by Carolyn Keene, was about a feisty amateur teenage detective with red-hair called Nancy Drew. Nancy was an inspiring role model as she was strong-minded, independent, intelligent, confident, outspoken, poised and beautiful. Sixteen year old Nancy was an amazing talented heroine – a fabulous horse-rider, expert driver, swimmer, sailor, gourmet cook, rower and sportswoman, with a fabulous sense of style. Together with her best friends Bess and tomboy George, she solved a series of baffling mysteries, helped those in need and outwitted dangerous criminals.
It was these beloved books which inspired me to start writing my own stories when I was a child. When I look back I realise that my favourite books all had a common theme. They all had girl heroes, often tomboys, who were bold and brave, feisty and adventurous, unconventional and independent, and very inspiring to me as a young girl. Perhaps that is why I write books now which focus on girls who are bold, brave, strong-minded, feisty, hard-working, clever and adventurous.