Found in my old file in my parental home:
This was my list of books read over the summer of 1976, when I was nine. If I had been using my current classification system then, I would have categorised them thus:
Blue Peter Special Assignment, by Dorothy Smith and Edward Barnes. There were several books in this sequence, and I think we had the one about Hong Kong and Malta – I recall an emotional moment for Val Singleton on the deck of the scrapped Queen Elizabeth in Kowloon Harbour, and also that was the summer we had our family holiday in Malta.
The Lonely Island, by R.M. Ballantyne. A rollicking good story for young adult readers about the settlement of the Bounty mutineers on Pitcairn Island. So convincing that for many years if I came across a historical detail that clashed with Ballantyne’s account, I would disbelieve it.
The Mystery of the Green Ghost, by “A. Hitchcock” [actually Robert Arthur]. This is not one of the Three Investigators books that has particularly stuck in my memory, and poring through online reviews has not refreshed my recollection. I do recall a scene with a skeleton wearing a pearl necklace.
The Wheel on the School, by Meindert DeJong. I vaguely remember that this is about kids getting storks to nest in a Dutch village. I remember thinking at the time that the dialogue sounded too American rather than Dutch.
The Adventurous Four, by Enid Blyton. I don’t remember this at all. Apparently three siblings and a local lad get shipwrecked on a Scottish island which is being used for enemy operations. Ring any bells?
Bevis, by Richard Jeffries. Great story of a boy exploring his local countryside, imposing his own mythology on it. Not brilliant on class and gender, as I recall. The one book on this list that I’d really like to reread.
Whizz for Atomms, by Geoffrey Willans and Ronald Searle. Third of the Molesworth books; I suspect the humour was already dated in 1976. Though maybe not all of it: “‘Reality,’ sa molesworth 2, ‘is so unspeakably sordid it make me shudder’.”
A Boy Called Spoons, by Herbert Heckmann. I remember nothing at all about this. Classic German children’s story about a boy with big ears trying to make friends.
One of our Dinosaurs is Missing, by John Harvey. This I do remember well, and reread it only a few years ago. A rather flat novelisation of the film which doubles down on the racial stereotypes.
Beyond the Wild World’s End, by Meta Mayne Reid. Author was married to Helen Waddell’s second cousin. About a boy who runs way from his stepmother to find his mother’s family on the far side of Ireland. I don’t remember much about it.
The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien. This may have even been the second time I read it, aged nine; I have a memory that I first read it the previous autumn or winter. A firm favourite. (And I enjoyed the films too.)
The Second Jungle Book, by Rudyard Kipling. For some reason I read this years before I read the original Jungle Book; the sequel is not quite as memorable in general, but the story that has stuck in my mind for almost forty years is “The Miracle of Purun Bagat”, about an Indian official in the Raj who turns his back on the world and seeks enlightenment in nature.
Wilkin’s Tooth, by Diana Wynne Jones. I have a memory that I first came across this on Jackanory, but I don’t find any record that it was ever a featured novel there. The first of her great kids’ urban fantasy books, with our protagonists getting involved with magic, racial dynamics and the local witch.
Earthfasts, by William Mayne. I enjoyed this story a lot, a time-slip tale between contemporary Scotland and the Jacobite rising. There is a particularly gruesome school assembly scene. I was very dismayed by the author’s conviction for sex crimes in 2004.
The Tree that Sat Down, by Beverley Nichols. Even at nine I felt this was a bit cutesy. Talking animals interacting with the human world, knowing that catastrophe will come. I was surprised to discover that the author was an Englishman – I had assumed it was an American woman!
Take it Easy, Charlie Brown, by Charles M. Schulz. I don’t remember any of this specifically, but I loved all of Schulz’ work as a kid and I still find it comforting now. Back in 2018 I was lucky enough to go to both the Santa Rosa museum and an exhibition about his work in London.
Asterix the Legionary, by Goscinny and Uderzo. Asterix and Obelix get drafted.
Asterix and the Big Fight, by Goscinny and Uderzo. I don’t remember anything about this one.
Asterix at the Olympic Games, by Goscinny and Uderzo. I do remember this as nicely observed satire.
Asterix the Gladiator, by Goscinny and Uderzo. Asterix and Obelix go to Rome to rescue the bard, who has been kidnapped by Cæsar.
4350 pages, 4/20 by women; none by writers of colour.