Time flies when you are reading for fun: Celebrating 80 years of Puffin!

As we celebrate 80 years of Puffin I look back on the most memorable books, which have remained favourites beyond my childhood. As a child, my mother let me read her wonderful collection of Puffin books, which she received in the early 1970’s. To this day I can recall the joy and excitement of reading these books together. It was Puffin that nurtured my love of reading and I have been hooked ever since. Below I have compiled a list of my favourites that I would like to share with you.

The Chronicles of Narnia books by C.S. Lewis are indeed a favourite of mine. They were my first glimpse of a fantastical world, which bewitched my young mind and put me under a spell, which I remain under to this day. I was desperate to go to the fictional world of Narnia and meet Aslan, fear great dragons, meet Caspian and have a talking horse just like Bree. These books carved out a love of literature, which will not be quelled. There was a clear favourite, “The Horse and His Boy”. It is a wonderful tale, which follows the boy Shasta and a horse Bree in their quest to save Narnia from the Calormen people who plot against them. From a nostalgic point of view this is a great read because the story is amazing and the adventure is thrilling.  

Continuing with the theme of horses I fell instantly in love with Anna Sewell’s Black Beauty. This incredible book was one of the first books that I genuinely sobbed whilst reading it. Here, we live through the eyes of the most beautiful horse that starts off life in pure bliss with friends and a loving family. When Beauty is forced to move away he realises that, some humans are extremely cruel. He is then passed through various owners. This is a beautiful tale, which teaches the reader to be compassionate towards animals. 

Noel Streatfield’s ‘Ballet Shoes’ tugged on my heartstrings as I became attached to the three adopted girls, Pauline, Petrova and Posy. Their guardian Gum, (Great Uncle Mathew) so used to collecting fossils had turned his hand to orphaned children and then mysteriously disappeared. The girls decide to make names for themselves so, enrol at the Academy of Dance and Stage training in the hope they will be able to support their family. It is a beautiful tale about having courage to strive for their dreams. I remember reading my mothers extremely tattered Puffin book, which was falling apart from endless times it was reread. I would heartily recommend this book to both young and adult readers, it is a true gem and not to be missed!

Frances Hodges Burnett’s The Secret Garden tells the story of a young girl Mary Lennox whose parents die in the cholera epidemic so she moves from India to England to live with her grieving uncle at Mistlethwaite Manor in Yorkshire. Both have had their fair share of misery and seemingly the household is engulfed in gloom and mystery. This story is about forging new friendships and overcoming grief. It is a heart warming read which brings the family together through the beautiful garden, which is lovingly brought back to life along with their own happiness. The wonderful characters in this book grow throughout and mature and become all that is good and learn from their previous vices. 

Having read through my mother’s old Puffin books, I began my own collection. Now I am at the stage were I am buying books for my godson who is a budding Classicist thanks to the Percy Jackson books. Naturally I had to get my own copies first to make sure they were good, and indeed they were. So I set about gifting these books by Rick Riordan, which are genuinely spectacular to any young member of my extended family in the hope that they would one day share my love of Classics. As a Classicist, it is my greatest passion to bring Classics to young people and hopefully inspire them to love the subject. These books are a great way for young readers to get excited about the classical world. I have bought most of his work as presents for younger relatives who have all been hooked by the magical tales of the Ancient World. It is books like this that inspire people to learn more about the history of our wonderful world and the people that inhabited it so long ago. I will be eternally grateful to Riordan for creating these wonderful books and I will continue to recommend them to young readers.

After 80 years Puffin is still spreading its magic and helping children fall in love with reading. Now as we are staying at home more than ever before we need our children to engage with literature and imagine exciting fictional worlds to entertain us in these difficult times. So, I thank you Puffin for continuing your sensational work for 80 years and toast to 80 more!