Sophy Henn’s Top Ten Book List


My girls and I are big fans of Sophy Henn. We adore her picture book, Where Bear? which Courtney introduced me to. And her latest book Pass It On is utterly divine. Full of love and hugs and loads of happiness!

I was so thrilled when Sophie agreed to tell me all about her top ten children’s books. I always love to hear what authors love to read. Thank you Sophie for sharing such a wonderful list with us!

1.Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

I am sure I am not alone in choosing this as one of my very best children’s books. Maurice Sendak was masterful at introducing the darker side of life to pre-schoolers and Where the Wild Things Are is a beautiful example of this. Max’s fury made real in the Wild Things and his eventual cool-down when he realises these Wild Things are really rather silly; this epic journey and realisation all taking place before his dinner gets cold. Picture book perfection.

2. Eloise written by Kay Thompson, Illustrated by Hilary Knight
I love Eloise. Even though I sort of know I shouldn’t, and I think that the joy of this book. Kay Thompson walks the very fine line between endearing and annoying with humour and grace. Coupled with Hilary Knight’s wonderful, witty illustrations, this book is a riot!

3. All of Clarice Bean by Lauren Child

Lauren Child has often talked about how she has a very vivid memory of being a child. This is very evident in the voice of Clarice Bean, her view of the world and the way she conveys that view feels completely authentic throughout. Clarice Bean, That’s Me includes one of my all time favourite lines, where Clarice is describing her acrobatics practise…“I do balancing and smiling in tights.” Genius! Alongside all the marvellous words, Lauren Child’s illustrations convey the lovely, jumbly chaos of family life, perfectly complimenting Clarice Bean’s rather scattery narrative style.

4. Oh, the Places You’ll Go by Dr Seuss

I think almost everyone has a favourite Dr Seuss and this is mine. I came across this book when my (now teenage) daughter was very small and the marvellous way Seuss manages to cover pretty much every up and down life has to offer in a picture book, in rhyme, is a complete joy. Never patronising, never scary, but honest and unflinching. It’s those qualities that make you trust this book and all it has to say. I believe every child AND adult should read it at least once and I defy you not to shed a tear at the end.

5. Milly Molly Mandy Stories by Joyce Lankester Brisley

As I grew up being read and then reading this series, Milly Molly Mandy became one of my childhood heroes, albeit a very gentle one. In fact lid potatoes still feature at teatime in my house! Absolutely of its time and all the more comforting for it, Milly Molly Mandy finds joy in the little things, be it knitting a square, making a cake or going for a walk with Little Friend Susan. I love the deceptively simple black and white illustrations dotted throughout, with lovely period touches (the books were originally published in the 1920s). Another reason it makes my top ten because there is a map of Milly Molly Mandy’s village at the front of the book, and who doesn’t love a map at the front of a book?

6. Henri’s Walk to Paris Illustrated by Saul Bass, Written by Leonore Klein

I am a huge fan of Saul Bass, and I would be lying if I said that hadn’t influenced my decision to include this book on my list. Henri’s Walk to Paris is a seemingly simple story about home and what that really means, accompanied by seemingly simple illustrations. But, as experience has taught me, when a text or image is stripped right back, there is nowhere to hide! Bass and Klein convey a pretty complex message with ease, humour, energy and a boldness that is hard not to love. And the colour palette is terrific!

7. This is Not A Book by Jean Julien

I love this book. It’s pretty, witty and so darn clever, I can’t imagine anyone who wouldn’t want a copy.

8. Cops and Robbers by Janet and Allan Ahlberg

Cops and Robbers has a special place in my heart as it was one of my favourite bedtime books when I was little. I loved the rhythm and repetition in the text and all the humour and detail in the illustrations. The ending has a little opening for further adventures, leaving the story slightly unfinished, which is something I love. I think giving the opportunity to dream up or discuss a further adventure extends the story beyond the book, encouraging children and their grown-ups to use their imagination, which is of course hugely important. A moral(ish) tale that revels in its wrong doings and doers; huge fun.

9. I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

The most perfect coming of age novel, like a junior Nancy Mitford. I only read this book a few years ago, and wished so much I had read it earlier. The characters appear infuriating and endearing all at once, thanks to our teenage narrator, Cassandra, who is related to or romantically entangled with most of them. English eccentricity, young love, writer’s block, a crumbling castle, rich American brothers and one of the best opening lines…”I write this sitting in the kitchen sink”…marvellous!

10. Emil and the Detectives by Erich Kästner

I reread this recently as I was asked to help judge the Puffin Design Competition and this was the book the entrants had to design a cover for. I vaguely remembered liking the book, but on rereading it I was delighted to discover I actually loved it! Written in the 1920s, Emil and his new gang are left to their own devices to scamper across Berlin unhindered by boring adults as they right a wrong. Following the gang of children, who are utterly empowered, streetwise and surprisingly resourceful, as they defeat a sneaky grown-up is completely thrilling.


Comments (4)

January 18, 2017

[…] And I always have to stop by a top ten children’s books post… here is one on Babyccino, full of childhood magic!!! […]

January 25, 2017

Oooh, some fun new ones to explore with the old favorites. Thanks for the great post!

Amy Phariss
January 31, 2017

I love I Capture the Castle. Life should be so charming. I really love reading novels to my kids. Now that they’re a little older, we can head into some adult works that are equally loved by kids. What a lovely post. Amy

February 13, 2017

[…] it’s no secret that I’m a Sophy Henn fan so when Florence began to carry this book tucked under her arm wherever she went it was a […]

Leave a Comment