Tuesday 26 January 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Modern YA/MG Books Paired With Classics for the 2016 Classics Challenge

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.

Today is a freebie week, which I always like, and I've been thinking so much about the BRILLIANT 2016 Classics Challenge which my friend Stacey runs at Pretty Books - check out details here - that I thought I'd pair up some classics with more recent books that would work as good companions!

Gemma series by Noel Streatfeild and Pea's Book series by Susie Day - My favourite Streatfeild series, I think this is sadly out of print, but I love the relationship between siblings Ann, Lydia and Robin and their film-star cousin Gemma who comes to live with them. Similarly, the relationship between Pea and sisters Tinkerbell and Clover is wonderful in Susie's quartet which FEELS like a Streatfeild-era classic - while also completely modern.

Dracula by Bram Stoker and Department 19 series by Will Hill - I read Dracula for the 2015 Classics Challenge (one of the few I DID manage to read!) and found it a brilliant book. However, my favourite vampires are still the ones in Will Hill's incredible series - the last of which, Darkest Night, has just come out in paperback. Seeing the descendants of Dracula characters working in a shadowy organisation devoted to protecting the world from vampires, the five books are outstanding.

Malory Towers series by Enid Blyton and Trebizon series by Anne Digby - Stretching it a bit to claim Trebizon are recent but they ARE currently being rereleased, with gorgeous Lucy Truman illustrations, by Egmont. I think these are fascinating to read together because they show how much school stories changed in the course of a few decades - the romance which forms a fairly major part of later Trebizon books would have been completely unthinkable for Blyton.

Danny The Champion of the World by Roald Dahl, illustrated by Quentin Blake and Demolition Dad by Phil Earle, illustrated by Sara Ogilvie - I've seen Earle's first foray into MG described as 'Danny The Champion of the World in lycra' and it's a perfect comparison! Danny is my favourite of Roald Dahl's books - I love the relationship between the title character and his poacher father - and Demolition Dad brings us a similarly warm and funny bond between Jake and his dad George, who wrestles as The Demolition Man. Also they're both great pairings of author and illustrator - Dahl and Blake, of course, constantly delighted readers when working together, while I adore the way Sara Ogilvie brings Phil Earle's characters to life in both Demolition Dad and the upcoming Superhero Street, which is also a fantastic read.

The Owl Service by Alan Garner and Bone Jack by Sara Crowe - Both of these are contemporary stories mixed with old legends, with Garner's characters reenacting the myth of Blodeuwedd and Crowe's lead Ash caught up in the tradition of a 'stag race' which takes an incredibly sinister turn. Each of the two authors writes wonderful prose and creates truly compelling characters, too.

The Dark Is Rising sequence by Susan Cooper and The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater - Like Susan Cooper's books, Maggie Stiefvater's quartet (the long-awaited final book comes out in less than 2 months!) are modern stories heavily inspired by Welsh myths - King Arthur in Cooper's case, and Owain Glyndwr/Owen Glendower in Stiefvater's. They also both have superb groups of main characters whose relationships are intriguing to read about.

Poirot series by Agatha Christie and Murder Most Unladylike series by Robin Stevens - I am a huge, huge fan of Poirot, and one of my favourite books is Cat Among The Pigeons, which sees the Belgian detective turn up quite late in the novel to solve a series of murders. For modern detective stories, I adore Robin Stevens's duo of Wells & Wong, and think Poirot would be impressed by the pair's resourcefulness and bravery.

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley and The Last Immortal by Alex Marlowe - I'm keen to read Shelley's classic Gothic novel, but also really enjoyed Marlowe's modern Gothic, first of a series, which sees Dr Frankenstein's son reanimated in the 21st century to reform the super-team his father had led - consisting of Jonathan Harker from Dracula and his daughter, both now vampires, a werewolf, a gargoyle and Dickens's Artful Dodger. Really brilliantly paced and with some outstanding action sequences, this is great.

Othello by William Shakespeare and Chasing The Stars by Malorie Blackman - I was sticking to books I've read, for the modern ones at least, but then Malorie Blackman's newest novel - a space-set love story based on Othello - got announced yesterday and how could I NOT include it? The former Children's Laureate is one of the most consistently brilliant authors out there today and this sounds phenomenal.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte and Jane, The Fox and Me by Fanny Britt and Isabelle Arsenault, translated by Christelle Morelli and Susan Ouriou - I've seen the play of Jane Eyre but not read yet; however it's one of the books I'm hoping to get to for the 2016 Classics Challenge! Britt and Arsenault's graphic novel is a favourite of recent years for me. Arsenault's muted depiction of heroine Hélène, which fills with brighter colour only as the bullied girl finds solace in Jane Eyre, her favourite book, is superb. Britt's story, which sees Hélène start to gain courage and confidence, is also excellent.


  1. What a fun idea for Freebie week. I did something similar last year (I think.) I am definitely checking into Jane, The Fox, and Me. I am a Jane Eyre Fan.
    My TTT: Hottest Books in My Library right now.

  2. It does sound like fun. By the way, I recommend Cloudwish by Fiona Wood for Jane Eyre references. The heroine, a Vietnamese girl in Melbourne, first read Jane Eyre when she was about nine, it has become her Bible and ever since, her solution to any problem is, "What would Jane Eyre do?"

  3. The plot of Bone Jack sounds similar to the Wild Hunt of Hagworthy by Penelope Lively which I'm reading at the moment. Will have to look out for it.