Father Christmas by Raymond Briggs
I was so impressed with this book when I was a child that I actually wrote to Mr Briggs to tell him that I had a brilliant idea for a Father Christmas sequel. He wrote back sending me a lovely hand drawn picture of Father Christmas - but pointed out that he already had an idea for his next book. Raymond Briggs' comic-book style with minimal text was a real inspiration for me. It's part of the reason why my first attempts at writing children's books were comic strips. I still love the detail and humour in Briggs’ characters and illustrations. He is an absolute master when it comes to telling stories using this medium. He knows exactly what is interesting and funny. I take my hat off to any author who draws a world so well that you want to go there.
Charlie And The Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
I always love books where nasty characters get their just deserts.
Dahl has his readers foaming with anticipation before the horrid
children in this story start to fall. Set in the ultimate of locations, a chocolate factory, run by Willy Wonka (one of the craziest geniuses in literature) Dahl creates the perfect venue for funny accidents. I love this because it's brilliantly imagined and really funny to read.
A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Puffin Classics, £4.99
A riches-to-rags to riches story, set in a very realistic Victorian London. The heroine in this story is sent to a boarding school as a
pupil but when her father dies, she is forced to work at the school as a maid. It is a lovely story about friendship, and about right
winning out in the end. I love the way the characters show their true colours when Sara Crewe is down on her luck. The bad characters are really hateful and the good characters very loveable. I always enjoy books with extreme characters in them.
Holes by Louis Sachar
A small gem of a book with a really clever plot. It's set in a detention centre in the middle of nowhere in America where the belief is, 'If you take a bad boy and make him dig a hole every day in the hot sun, it will turn him into a good boy.' Stanley Yelnat, found guilty of a crime he didn't commit, is sent there and the story is simply one of survival, with a brilliant twist in the plot that suddenly makes his time in the detention centre far more interesting. What I admire about this book is the way that it is simply written, in a really simple venue, with a fairly simple story too, yet the characters and their fates are completely magnetic.
Kensuke's Kingdom by Michael Morpurgo
Again a story that is brilliantly imagined and so very transporting. A boy is shipwrecked and ends up on an island where he meets an old Japanese man who's been there for years. It's the sort of desert- island story that makes you want to go there too and try your hand at fishing and cooking on open fires.