Putting heavier workloads to one side, Warwick students look back to lighter reads from years gone by.
The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot
Mia Thermopolis is the heroine that every teenager needs. She not only provides laughs and all too relatable dramas, but she most importantly shows a change in the way we look at gender roles and the traditional ‘princess ideal’. When Mia is forced to take “princess lessons” from her “dreaded grandmère“ she less than graciously accepts being forced into becoming a “proper lady”. Instead, over a period of self development, Mia embraces what being a princess means to her.
Cabot even confronts many important issues for teenagers
She focuses on being a good role model for her people as well as a kind and genuine person, which is a lot more important than being able to sit properly at dinner. Cabot even confronts many important issues for teenagers such as Mia’s parent’s divorce, sex and reputation at school, highlighting that while this may seem like the most important thing in the world at the time, it is really insignificant in comparison to your own happiness. Mia is an honest protagonist, and rather than preaching at young girls from an ivory tower, Cabot takes us along on the crazy and enjoyable ride that is growing up.
A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket
Despite being an English student, I was never much of a reader as a child. However, Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events connected with me the moment I picked up the first book. I’d always loved ghost stories and mysteries, so the dark, Gothic inspired illustrations immediately appealed to me. Set in a world that could be any time between the Victorian era and today (they’re also pretty postmodern), the books appealed to the pessimist in me – and that wasn’t a bad thing.
Snicket taught me that difficult times were inevitable
Chronicling the lives of the intelligent Baudelaire orphans, Violet, Klaus, and Sunny, the novels were narrated by the wonderfully sarcastic and ironic Lemony Snicket, each book opening with a macabre poem directed to the mysterious Beatrice. Through the dark themes of the books, Snicket taught me that difficult times were inevitable, but that they could be seen through with intelligence and bravery. He reminded me that nobody was wholly good or bad, and that adults faced problems such as fear or ignorance, despite being all grown up. The books offered so much more than what I had previously read, and, for that reason, will always hold a special place in my heart – and on my shelf.
The Hobbit by J.R.R Tolkien
Occupying the pinnacle of children’s fantasy, The Hobbit has guided many readers through the rural realms of Middle Earth and is accurately regarded as a timeless classic since its first publication in 1937. Being one of the first books I ever read, my fictional standards were set very high with Tolkien’s masterpiece. The easy-flowing, descriptive excellence of Tolkien carried me through and kindled my love for the fantasy genre.
The creation of this fantasy universe laid the foundations for future authors
Although the Harry Potter generation has cast Bilbo to the shadows in the last twenty years, the importance of The Hobbit towards children’s literature should not be underrated. The creation of this fantasy universe laid the foundations for future authors such as J.K. Rowling and promoted a genre that continues to evolve. I may be biased, but in regards to children’s books, The Hobbit is the one book to rule them all.
Image: Will Thomas / Forgemountain.com