Book Angel Booktopia is delighted to welcome Kieran fanning today as part of the Black Lotus Blog tour. As you are aware I am always looking innovative and creative for ways to encourage teens to read for pleasure. What better way than sharing some personal favourites of an author they admire 🙂
My top 12 books for Children & YA
Why 12, you might ask? Well, basically I couldn’t narrow it down to ten!
- Holes by Louis Sachar
This story about Stanley Yelnats’ time at Camp Green Lake, a juvenile correction facility in the middle of the Texan desert, might possibly be the most perfect novel ever written. With a cast of wonderful characters and a story so compelling and tightly plotted, you won’t be able to put it down. I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who didn’t love it. It’s one of those stories that can be read on so many levels – there’s something here for everyone. A modern classic!
- Framed by Frank Cottrell Boyce
This book about the storage of the entire contents of London’s National Gallery in a small town in Wales is one of the funniest books I’ve ever read. All of Cottrell Boyce’s books are hilarious, but this one is my favourite. I’ve read it over and over again and it never fails to entertain and surprise. It’s also a refreshing way to get kids interested in art. And Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles!
- Watership Down by Richard Adams
Possibly, the greatest animal story ever written, Watership Down tells the story of Fiver and friends who evacuate their warren and go on the most amazing quest to find a new home. Who knew politics, religion, war and love could be so compelling among rabbits? I remember reading this as a child on a caravan holiday and being totally absorbed by Richard Adams’ world.
- His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman
This incredible fantasy charts the adventures of plucky Lyra Belacqua across amazing worlds, in an adventure of epic proportions, meeting the strangest and most inventive characters and creatures. In the trilogy, all humans have souls called dæmons, which manifest themselves as talking animals. This was incredible to see on stage in The Royal National Theatre’s six-hour adaptation of the books. Unfortunately, the film version was less remarkable. If ever there was a story I didn’t want to end, it was this. I can’t wait for The Book of Dust!
- Chaos Walking by Patrick Ness
If Pullman’s ‘big idea’ was dæmons, Ness’ was a world where all living creatures can hear each other’s thoughts in a stream of Noise. This amazing science fiction trilogy centres around two protagonists, Todd and Viola, as New World falls into chaos and war – a war for silence, a war against the native Spackle, and a war against each other. A terrifying book about religion, power, gender, and ‘man’s inhumanity to man.’
- Fade by Robert Cormier
There was always going to be a Cormier title on this list, and it was a toss-up between The Chocolate War, I Am the Cheese, The Bumblebee Flies Anyway and Fade. I went with the latter, the story of Paul Moreaux, who discovers he can become invisible. Initially this new ability is a gift but it soon becomes a curse, as Paul discovers secrets he shouldn’t know and tastes the corruptive nature of power. Like all Cormier books, Fade is dark, horrible at times, controversial, thought-provoking, brilliantly written, and captivating to the end.
- Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
My first encounter with Jim and Long John Silver was in a childhood illustrated abridgement. I vividly remember the terrifying image of Pew delivering a ‘black spot’ on a piece of paper (a death notice) to the Admiral Benbow Inn. Perhaps Stevenson’s literary device was the inspiration for the name of my novel, and my ninja resistance group who leave an ink blackened lotus flower as their signature. Treasure Island is the classic adventure tale of pirates and buried treasure. ‘Arrr!!’
- The Giggler Treatment by Roddy Doyle
Basically, the Gigglers are tiny creatures that punish mean adults by making them step in poo. They purchase this poo from Rover (a dog who has become a millionaire from such purchases!) to give Mister Mack the Giggler Treatment. But when the man’s twins, Jimmy and Robbie, decide he doesn’t deserve it, a side-splitting adventure around the world ensues, as they attempt to prevent this ‘poo on the shoe.’ This story, the only book on my list for younger readers, is absolutely hysterical, and a favourite read-aloud title.
- Danny the Champion of the World by Roald Dahl
Roald Dahl is a genius, and this is my favourite of his books, followed closely by James and the Giant Peach. It’s probably different from most of his other titles in that it’s not driven by humour or fantasy. The beauty of it is in the relationship between Danny and his father, as they try to outwit the villainous Mr. Hazel. There’s also something pretty serendipitous about Jeremy Irons and his son playing the roles of William and Danny in the excellent 1989 movie adaptation.
- The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne
I’m not a huge fan of historical fiction, and I’m not even sure this is classified as that, but I loved Boyne’s original take on this terrible part of our history. This did for holocaust stories what Life is Beautiful did for holocaust movies. It subverted all preconceived notions by telling the story through the innocent eyes of Bruno, the son of a Nazi death camp Commandant. This story of friendship, with its heart-breaking ending, will leave an important, but bitter taste in your mouth, long after you finish reading.
- Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer
I love the tagline – ‘Die Hard with fairies’ almost as much as I love this series. Colfer, a fellow Irish man, took our ancient Irish tradition of fairy stories and turned it on its head with wise-cracking, butt-kicking, smart-talking fairies, and Artemis, the captivating villain and antihero. Packed with technology, action and humour, this series gives Harry Potter a run for its money, any day.
- Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
No list would be complete without everyone’s childhood favourite, Charlotte’s Web. This touching story about the unlikely friendship between a pig and a spider will soften even the hardest of hearts, then break them, and mend them again.
‘Why did you do all this for me?’ he (Wilbur) asked. ‘I don’t deserve it. I’ve never done anything for you.’
‘You have been my friend,’ replied Charlotte. ‘That in itself is a tremendous thing.”
The Black Lotus by Kieran Fanning is published by Chicken House.
ABOUT BLACK LOTUS
THE BLACK LOTUS by Kieran Fanning is the first in an action-packed series for ages 10 and up. It follows a group of children with exciting superhero-like abilities who are junior recruits of the Black Lotus, a school for ninjas.
Ghost, Cormac and Kate are junior recruits of the Black Lotus, a school for ninjas. When a powerful weapon is stolen, the three must battle through sixteenth-century Japan and present-day New York to stop a power-hungry shogun from destroying the city.