Series – The Faraway Tree

ft2Sometimes I wonder what really good children’s books did I miss out on when I was a kid? My parents are immigrants, and English was our second language, so I was pretty much left to my own devices when it came to choosing reading material.

I luckily stumbled onto some wonderful books (like these ones and these ones), that I still love, but sadly, I completely missed British author Enid Blyton. Until now.

The Faraway Tree collection is a lovely series about siblings who discover different magical lands by way of an enchanted forest.

You know you can’t go wrong when the audiobooks are narrated by Kate Winslet!

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Book – Kenny and the Dragon

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I had not previously read this novel by Tony DiTerlizzi, about a bookish young rabbit named Kenny and his new friend, a reluctant dragon named Grahame (in case it’s not obvious, it’s a riff off the classic The Reluctant Dragon by Kenneth Grahame). The story is pretty cute, and my fantasy-loving kid enjoyed it.

But seeing that it was narrated by Scottish actor Alan Cumming is what sealed the deal for me. I distinctly remember him as the wonderful narrator of the 1994 movie version of Black Beauty. So we were definitely going to listen to this story next! We were not disappointed by his fabulous performance.

If you enjoyed My Father’s Dragon, this would be a great follow-up.

Series – The Chronicles of Prydain

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I have to remember that my oldest is only five. But there are so many epic books I can’t wait to introduce her to, like the Harry Potter series and The Golden Compass. And of course, this beloved award-winning series by Lloyd Alexander, set in a magical land loosely based on Welsh mythology.

The characters of Taran, Eilonwy, Fflewddur Fflam, Gurgi, and Doli, are all my old friends. These books were my security blanket.

Needless to say, I was excited to find the audio version narrated by James Langton, which doesn’t disappoint. I also finally learned how to say their names correctly!

Book – The Frog Princess

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We gave this book a try as it was on sale through Audible for just $1.95, and we’ve had great experiences listening to books narrated by Katherine Kellgren.

The Frog Princess is actually the first in a series of books by E. D. Baker about Princess Emma, who gets turned into a frog when she kisses a cursed frog prince. If that sounds familiar, it’s because Disney’s The Princess and the Frog is loosely based on this story.

If you like fairy tales, especially mixed-up fairy tales, like my daughter does, then you might like this book. We’re looking forward to listening to the rest of the series one day!

Series – Rainbow Magic

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So I’m including these fantasy books by Daisy Meadows (a pseudonym for a number of different writers) for completion’s sake.

I thought this series, about two friends who help save the seven Rainbow Magic fairies (one book for each fairy), was a little saccharine, but my four year old freaking loved it! Did I mention she had a fairy phase?

And so I followed a book lover’s advice to let your child make their own book choices, no matter how annoying, in the early years so they develop a passion for more stories. Good literary taste will come later – I hope!

The audio series is made much better by narrator Kathleen McInerney, who we’ve listened to and enjoyed in other productions.

Book – The Night Fairy

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Got this because my daughter is in a huge fairy phase right now.

The Night Fairy by Laura Amy Schlitz, is about a tiny acorn-sized fairy named Flory, who loses her wings and must find a way to survive without them. Admittedly it’s a little darker than I expected, but Flory’s world is described beautifully and my daughter loved it.

The audio version is narrated by Michal Friedman, who actually has quite an innocent young-sound voice.

Book – The Phantom Tollbooth

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The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster was a favourite of mine growing up.

I love the humour and play on words that fill this book, which is about a bored young boy name Milo who enters the fantastic Kingdom of Wisdom by way of a magical tollbooth. In this strange land you can literally get lost in the Doldrums, or jump to Conclusions. Guess what, he doesn’t stay bored for long!

Actor David Hyde Pierce is on point as the narrator of this quirky book!