More children’s classics paired with their modern counterparts

Some children’s books never get old, and there’s a lot of joy in giving a modern kid a tried and tested read from your own youth. Once more, we’ve paired some of our favourite children’s classics with newer books that share the same spirit.

Read the classic! Read the new! Or best of all, read both!

You can read our original post about children’s classics and modern counterparts here.


If you loved Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren…

…try The Lotterys Plus One by Emma Donoghue


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Pippi was a firm favourite in the early primary school years. I loved every single unconventional thing she did – living happily on her own, weightlifting horses, going to the market in evening dress and sleeping upside down. (I did attempt this myself for a few nights but got claustrophobic with my head at the bottom of the bed.)

In The Lotterys Plus One , the Lottery family’s seven children are co-parented and home-schooled by two same-sex couples. Their large and happy family, powered by family meetings, respect for the planet and encouragement of individuality, is shaken by the arrival of their prejudiced grandfather, Grumps, who has been diagnosed with dementia. Fans of chaotic, quirky and funny family stories will love seeing how this family copes with Grumps-induced tension. For ages 9 and up.

And yes, author Emma Donoghue is that Emma Donoghue, of Room fame.

Other suggestions:


If you loved Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe…

…try The Explorer by Katherine Rundell


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If tales of geographical isolation, uneasy alliances and gritty survival are your thing (let’s lose the white supremacy, colonialism and homicide, shall we?), you will absolutely love Katherine Rundell’s historical adventure The Explorer.

Fred, Con, Lila and Max are stranded in the Amazon rainforest when their light plane crashes. This group of four plucky kids have to overcome their differences and assumptions about each other to cobble together food, water and shelter. While their circumstances are dire, there’s also the wonders of the Amazon to discover, the excitement of the unfamiliar, and mysterious signs that they aren’t alone in the jungle… This is one for every person who has wondered if they could stomach barbecued tarantula. My answer: no. For ages 9 and up.


Other suggestions:


If you loved The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett…

…try The Moonlight Statue by Holly Webb


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Imagine if tragedy meant that you had to move house, and then imagine that huge old house turned out to be full of mysteries, forgotten stories and strange truths…

If you are partial to this kind of gothic treat, then you should read the sweet and enthralling The Hounds of Penhallow Hall books by Holly Webb, beginning with The Moonlight Statue. After a family tragedy, Polly and her mum move to the historic mansion Penhallow Hall, where Polly’s mum is going to work as a curator and caretaker. Polly’s sense of displacement and confusion is palpable, but comfort and wonder soon arrives in the wonderful form of Rex, a stone statue of a dog that magically comes to life at night. Polly and Rex become great friends, and Polly begins to uncover some of the lost history of Penhallow Hall.

The sequel, The Lost Treasure introduces new characters, human and canine, and a new mystery. For ages 8 and up.

Other suggestions:


If you loved Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne…

…try Good Night Sleep Tight by Kristina Andres


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Anthropomorphic stories are truly the best – the follies, habits, fancies and neuroses of an adorable group of animals helps young readers see that maybe humans are also complex and odd beasts.

In Good Night Sleep Tight harmonious housemates Fox and Rabbit get up to all sorts of silly and creative adventures as they try, and oftentimes fail, to say good night and get to sleep. Young readers will enjoy the guest appearances by friends Kangaroo, Elephant, Grannie Wolf and sheepdog Lottie, and pore over the comical and colourful illustrations. For ages 7 and up.

Other suggestions:


If you loved Black Beauty by Anna Sewell…

…try The Wonderling by Mira Bartok


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Getting into the mind of a beloved animal and gaining a new appreciation for the kindness and cruelty shown by humans can be a formative experience for a young reader, sparking a lifelong interest in justice and fairness.

In The Wonderling it’s sweet fox groundling Arthur that raises our compassion. Arthur and the other groundlings (half-animal and half-human creatures) are ruled with utter contempt by nasty Headmistress Carbunkle at the Home for Wayward and Misbegotten Creatures. With the help of brave bird groundling Trinket, heroic Arthur embarks on a dazzling and magical adventure where he witnesses the best and worst of human behaviour, and never loses focus on rescuing his friends. For ages 9 and up.

Other suggestions:


If you loved Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens…

…try The Whiz Mob and the Grenadine Kid by Colin Meloy


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Is there anything more lovable than a child thief? Of course not! The Whiz Mob and the Grenadine Kid is full of sparky rogues and heartwarming rascals.

Charlie Fisher’s dad is a preoccupied American diplomat, so it’s not surprising when bored and lonely (and yes, privileged) 12-year-old Charlie witnesses talented pickpocket Amir in action and winds up part of an international gang of underage thieves. Set in 1960s Marseilles and peppered with so much pickpocket lingo there’s a thoroughly enjoyable glossary at the back of the book, this is a pacy and smart caper. Charlie gains confidence and a newfound sense of belonging with his new top-secret friends, but what happens when his two worlds collide? For ages 10 and up.

Other suggestions:


Leanne Hall is a children’s and YA specialist at Readings Kid and the grants officer for the Readings Foundation. She also writes books for children and young adults.

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Good Night Sleep Tight

Good Night Sleep Tight

Kristina Andres

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