6 Cornish Kids’ Books To Treasure

Local authors and stories your kids will love - packed with pirates, fishermen, singing cats and selkies.

If you’re in a state of costume panic today, I feel your pain, believe me but World Book Day is an amazing celebration of children’s literature and reading for pleasure and I’m 100% on board.

Bedtime stories are sacrosanct in our house. Both my under-fives refuse to settle until we’ve read them at least three but we do take the privilege of books for granted. On World Book Day, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, 15 million £1 tokens will be given out, enabling many UK children to buy their very first book. 15% of children in Britain have no books of their own – how depressing is that?

10 £1 books, from authors including Julia Donaldson, Jacqueline Wilson and David Walliams, will be available to buy with the tokens until 26 Mar, or children can use their token to get £1 off another book of their choice. Find your nearest participating bookseller here.

At Muddy Cornwall, we thought it would be a great opportunity to celebrate some local Cornish authors and stories (we’re building up a little library of them here). These recommendations come from writer and bookseller Liz Hurley (no, not that one!) at Hurley Books in Mevagissey — a great indie bookshop you must check out next time you’re down that way.

For younger readers:

The Mousehole Cat by Antonia Barber 

This beautifully illustrated tale tells the story of fisherman Tom Bawcock and his cat Mowser, who brave the stormy seas to save the people of Mousehole from starving, one especially ferocious winter. It’s adapted for the stage several times and is celebrated every year in Mousehole’s famous Christmas lights and lantern parade, on Tom Bawcock’s Eve. It’s the equivalent of The Snowman in our family and we gift it to almost every child who comes to stay.

Percy Pengelly and The Wibble-Wobble by Jenney Steele Scolding & Andy McPherson

Another charming picture book set by the sea and peppered with fun Cornish dialect. Percy Pengelly is a tightrope walker, who leaves the circus and goes looking for a new job in Cornwall that will use his special skills. From wibble-wobbles on the high wire to an exciting sea rescue, it has a lovely rhythm to read aloud and a strong sense of place.

Words and Your Heart by Kate Jane Neal

Described by Liz as, “the sweetest, kindest, happiest book about being nice,” Words and Your Heart is written by Cornish author Kate Jane Neal. This lovely picture book explains beautifully to children how the words they use can impact on others. It features adorable illustrations that parents will love too and such an important anti-bullying message for younger children as they navigate their early school years.

Captured! The Incredible True Story of Thomas Pellow by Craig Green

A picture book for slightly older readers — this one’s a proper swash-buckling adventure. It retells the incredible true story of Thomas Pellow (previously told for adults in Giles Milton’s White Gold), a boy from Cornwall who was kidnapped by pirates, off the coast of Spain, escaping 23 years later to make the gruelling journey back to his home and family. Oliver Hurst’s gorgeous illustrations capture the haunting seascapes, foreign lands and characters Thomas meets along the way.

For older readers:

Over Sea, Under Stone by Susan Cooper

The sort of thrilling summer adventure 10-years-olds dream of, this is the first of Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising quintet (and the most child-friendly, they get progressively darker). Think Famous Five with a sense of foreboding! Simon, Jane and Barney Drew arrive in Cornwall to spend the summer at the home of their enigmatic uncle Merry, where they discover an Arthurian treasure map that sends them on a seat-of-your-pants quest. The children must find the Grail with the help of their uncle before the agents of the Dark beat them to it!

Deep Water by Lu Hersey  (12 +)

Published in 2015, Deep Water is Lu Hersey’s critically acclaimed debut novel. It tells the story of Danni, a modern girl going through the usual rites of passage but who is also living with something deep and mysterious. One day, salt water starts pouring from her palms, her mother goes missing and she discovers she has a grandmother in Cornwall she knew nothing about. This modern retelling of a selkie myth is a magical coming of age story that brings Cornish landscapes and legends vividly to life.

Hurley Books is not an official World Book Day partner but will accept your £1 tokens against any of its new books (they also sell pre-loved tomes).

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