Minnow on the Say by Philippa Pearce. Philippa Pearce wrote the fantasy classic, Tom’s Midnight Garden, but before that she wrote this her debut children’s book, a quiet mystery tale about boys messing about in boats on the river Say. It reminded me of my younger son and canoeing on Dickinson Bayou and times past.
Ash Road by Ivan Southall. I read this story about a bush fire in the Australian outback many years ago, and I remembered it as a great read. It was.
Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome. Finally, this year I started this series about children and imagination and free play and sailing. It was fantastic, as you can see from this list. Three out of my ten favorite middle grade fiction books are all about the Swallows and the Amazons, rival “gangs” of children who race their sailboats and have mock battles in and about the rivers and lakes of the Lake District in northwest England.
Swallowdale by Arthur Ransome.
Secret Water by Arthur Ransome.
Almost Paradise by Corabel Shofner. Twelve-year-old Ruby Clyde Henderson’s life changes the day her mother’s boyfriend holds up a convenience store, and her mother, Babe (short for Barbara) is jailed for assisting with the crime. Now Babe’s twin sister, a nun who can’t stand Ruby Clyde or her mother, is Ruby Clyde’s only refuge.
The Family from One End Street: And Some of Their Adventures by Eve Garnett. This book won the Carnegie award for British children’s children’s fiction that same year that The Hobbit was published, a mistake to be sure, but nevertheless, it’s a good story about a large, poor-but-happy family in the 1930’s.
Aim by Joyce Moyer Hostetter. Aim is a prequel to Ms. Hostetter’s two books about Ann Fay Honeycutt, Blue and Comfort. Aim tells the story of Junior Bledsoe, a secondary, but beloved, character in those other two books.
Cinnamon Moon by Tess Hilmo. Twelve-year-old Ailis and her younger brother, Quinn, having lost their entire family in the Peshtigo fire of 1871, end up in Chicago, a city which is still recovering from its own fire.
So, if there were themes for the year they were: children in boats, adventure, and courage in the face of disaster, especially fiery disaster. Even The Family at One End Street had one chapter in which one of the children stows away on a boat or a ship (can’t remember which) and goes on an adventure.