We Recommend: Magical Adventure Edition

Another edition of We Recommend, in which we do our very best to suggest the perfect book, and then
turn them over to you, the reader, to do the same. Need help
finding the right book? E-mail
us with some information about your reader, likes and dislikes, and
anything else, and we'll do our best. Now, on to our current challenge!

What we have here is really a recommendation for us (this series she talks about that I've never heard of sounds excellent), along with a question:

My daughter is soon to be five and loving chapter books. We started
just recently with the 'Magic Far Away Tree' series by Enid Blyton. My
husband recommended them after growing up in South Africa- no one had
heard of them here. (In fact, we had him pick up copies for us on a
recent trip to the U.K.) So we tore through those- she loved them all-
and now we're looking for just right books for her. We've checked out
the first two Laura Ingalls- Wilder books. (She thought it was
hilarious that they use a pig's bladder for a balloon). She loves books
about animals, maybe princesses, and definitely some adventure.

So, the Magic Faraway Tree series turns out to be an amazing-sounding set of books about kids who explore an enchanted forest. I truly love an enchanted forest, myself.

Anyway, it sounds like animals, adventure and magic are the order of the day (we're going to leave princesses out of it, because, God knows, they are omnipresent enough). For some reason my first thought was The Incredible Journey, because of the animals, but it's not really magical and I only put it here because one should always give due respect to gut instincts and first hunches and the like. Then I thought of the Narnia series, but almost five seems a bit too young, you want to wait with those until she can really savor them. Then there are those old fashioned books like Treasure Island, but it might be a bit much. Hmm, adventure and animals and magic…


I mean, there are a million other wonderful books, right? It hardly seems fair to bring in the big heavy hitter of the classics here. There's The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, there are all the wonderful E. Nesbit books, like The Enchanted Castle, and maybe Edward Eager would do well here, too? I entirely loved Half-Magic, though it might be a bit too grown-up yet.

But what would you suggest? Let her know in the comments.

11 thoughts on “We Recommend: Magical Adventure Edition

  1. My 6-year-old is loving the How To Train Your Dragon books–the book ones by Cressida Cowell, not the movie-knockoffs. I think they are great, too–very funny, a little rude (which is a nice introduction for my gentle, sensitive dude–really), and charmingly adventuresome and thoughtful at the same time. My 4-year-old even likes listening to them, too, and we ordered some of the audio versions from Britain of the ones we read already (David Tennant reads them), and that’s all they’ve let me play in the car lately. Anyway, I’m going to try these Blyton’s for my son, on the strength of this recommendation & description, so I thought I’d share our love of Hiccup in return. (Also, post-Hiccup’s-adventures, I know have a greater faith that the kids will like Monty Python when we get to it. Selfish, but true.)


  2. Carbonel and its sequel might hit the spot. I think that the New York Review of Books has reprinted both of them.
    Voices in the Meadow (you can see it at Amazon) might still be a little old but it popped in my head.
    The Jenny and the cat club books might be good.
    And, as always, I’d recommend the Moomintroll books.


  3. I will just be obvious and mention The Magic Tree House because that is what we are reading. Also what about The Secrets of Droon? I haven’t read more than the first page in that series, but magic seems to be in them. And, if she liked the Little House on the Prairie series, what about trying Tomie De paola’s 26 Fairmount Avenue series? My kids LOVED them!


  4. Enchanted forests moved me to dredge up Margaret Storey’s books from memory, Timothy and Two Witches and Timothy Travels, which I was enraptured by as a child. But I see they’re impossible to get now. I hope someone reprints them sometime soon.
    How about the Little Witch books? Or Ruth Chew’s Magic in the Park, which seems to be still available used?


  5. Enchanted forests? How about the Enchanted Forest Chronicles, by Patricia Wrede?
    Book one is called Dealing with Dragons. They include dragons, an enchanted forest, and an awesome princess (who’s forever being scolded for not being princcessy enough), and are hilarious.


  6. It’s not so much magical, but it does have talking animals: the best book I ever got for my under-5 kids was Mr Bear Squash-You-All-Flat by Morell Gipson. We read it over and over and over and it is equally hilarious for all (even the adult reader) every single time.


  7. How about Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows? There’s perhaps not so much magic in it, but it certainly has adventure and animals.


  8. I feel compelled to add that I read (and still have) all the “Wizard of Oz” books. The first one is great, no question, but there is an amazing variety of characters in the other books, from Tik-Tok the wind-up man to the Patchwork Girl to the Rainbow’s Daughter. The adventures are exciting and the characters have to solve problems and show their worth in order to get out of scrapes, but they’re not actually scary.
    And I don’t know if it’s too old for a 5-year-old (depends on the kid I guess), but I just finished “Dealing with Dragons” and loved it. She doesn’t want to marry the boring prince; frankly, she’d rather not get married at all. And not (I was happy to read) because there’s some obvious feminist agenda, but just because there are more exciting things to do!


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