Musty Books

A fresh eye cast over old school library favourites. Extra praise reserved for yellowed pages, scribbled comments in biro and a lingering, sulphurous musty waft…

The Giant Under The Snow by John Gordon (1968)
“John Gordon employs this spirit of seasonal oddness as the catalyst to invoke the dormant mythology and magic of the Norfolk countryside…”

Children of Winter by Berlie Doherty (1985)
“As a deadly pandemic sweeps across Britain, three youngsters self-isolate, breaking off all contact with older family members…”

Jill Graham and the Riddle of the Dwarf’s Shadow by Lesley Chase (1975)
“…has a distinct whiff of the Three-Day Week and Don Revie’s Leeds United”
Saucers Over The Moor by Malcolm Saville (1955)
“That was the most gloriously wonderful bonk I’ve ever given anyone in my life!”

The Ghost On The Hill by John Gordon (1976)
“Hanging over the village is a darker spectre than mere torpor…”

The Box Of Delights by John Masefield (1935)
“One man’s medieval occultism is another man’s boring Christmas with the Joneses…”

Brother in the Land by Robert Swindells (1984)
“Perhaps the bleakest indictment of human nature ever to be presented to any audience, let alone the unsuspecting secondary school readership for whom it was intended…”

Mr McFadden’s Hallowe’en by Rumer Godden (1975)
“On a dank and bone-chilling Hallowe’en evening, a young witch screams for mercy, lashed to a hawthorn tree in a mist-shrouded Borders village…”

The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis (1950)
“Edmund. It’s all about Edmund.”

Raven by Jeremy Burnham & Trevor Ray (1977)
“Eyes down for a game of 1970s Children’s Drama Bingo…”

Grinny by Nicholas Fisk (1973)
“Essentially a light-hearted story about an elderly lady who transpires to be an alien…”

Come Back, Lucy by Pamela Sykes (1973)
“Salvation arrives in the form of that most quintessentially 1970s of otherworldly experiences: a Victorian ghost…”

The Snow Goose by Paul Gallico (1941)
“The redemptive power of attachment – to both people and places – is at the heart of The Snow Goose…”

The White Mountains by John Christopher (1967)
“If the most potent elements of a creative work are those left unseen and unstated, then The White Mountains… should be dangerously intoxicating”

The Machine Gunners by Robert Westall (1975)
“Where you going now?”

Marianne Dreams by Catherine Storr (1958)
“What happens when a recurring dream becomes so lucid and involving that it feels more like reality than the everyday?”

Carrie’s War by Nina Bawden (1973)
“As a very small child in the 1970s, I was vaguely uncertain as to whether the Second World War was still ongoing…”

The Weathermonger by Peter Dickinson (1968)
“Mr Furbelow, we discover, is keeping Merlin deliberately hooked on morphine…”

Fish by Alison Morgan (1971)
“The dark flipside of the 1970 childhood: tumbledown housing, drowned litters and aimless kickabouts in ankle-deep mud…”

Forty Days of Tucker J. by Robert Leeson (1983)
“A Britain of snaking dole queues and Space Invader machines, of urban wasteland, simmering racial tension, glue-sniffing…”

Nobody’s House by Martin Hall (1976)
“Sure, the victims of hauntings get scared. But won’t somebody think of the poor, lonely ghost…”

The Diddakoi by Rumer Godden (1972)
“For as long as children’s literature has existed, what so few books have successfully captured is the sheer anger of being a child…”

Ghost in the Water by Edward Chitham (1973)
“The book is bleak. Quite literally – the entire narrative is subsumed by the slate-grey oppression of winter…”

Jackanory Stories: Lizzie Dripping by Helen Cresswell (1973)
“A melancholy meditation on the passing of childhood, and an anxious teenager’s fear of the future…”

Astercote by Penelope Lively (1970)
“Everything about Astercote is beautifully judged, beautifully weighted, beautifully depicted…”

Freaky Friday by Mary Rodgers (1972)
“More of a Wet Wednesday than a Freaky Friday…”

Rebecca’s World by Terry Nation (1975)
“It only really needs the lingering threat of radiation poisoning for the complete Terry Nation Full House…”

The Nature of the Beast by Janni Howker (1985)
“You’ll rarely find a book that reflects the anger and hopelessness of the 1980s Northern industrial experience in such a devastating fashion…”

Cora Ravenwing by Gina Wilson (1980)
“Grief, outsiderdom, friendship and prejudice: they’re all explored in this beautiful, poetic and perceptive book…”

Jill Graham and the Secret of Druids Wood by Lesley Chase (1974)
“Jill rides a horse called Conker. Of course she rides a horse called Conker…”

The Third Class Genie by Robert Leeson (1975)
“An abandoned beer can plays host to the 975-year-old Abu Salem, ‘Genie of the Third Order of rank and merit in the courts of Baghdad…'”

Mandog by Lois Lamplugh & Peter Dickinson (1972)
“A family dog, Radnor, becomes the physical host for the mind of Justin, one of a group of revolutionaries who time-travel to 1970s Southampton…”