Milo's boredom is relieved when he finds a huge package in his bedroom containing 'One Genuine Turnpike Tollbooth'. He jumps in his pedal car and learns a few lessons in places like the Land of Expectation, the Doldrums and the Mountains of Ignorance. Classic children's book that continues to grow in stature with modern readers. Highly recommended.
'The Chronicles of Prydain' by Lloyd Alexander (1964)
Beginning with The Book of Three, wonderful children's fantasy series about Taran, an assistant pig-keeper, and his coming-of-age. The first book has Taran meeting his hero, Prince Gwydion, and taking on the evil Horned King. Along with the follow-up it provided the basis for the Disney movie The Black Cauldron (1985). The final instalment, The High King, won the 1969 Newbery Medal.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl (1964)
At times a controversial figure, Welsh author/screenwriter Road Dahl has nevertheless written some of the world's most beloved children's stories. His penchant for the eccentric to the surreal gives his work a wild flavour. While working for a chocolate company he came up this inspired piece of mayhem about the tribulations of misbehaviour. Feature film versions 1971 and 2005.
The Last Unicorn by Peter S Beagle (1968)
Aside from its immense popularity with younger readers, Last Unicorn manages to also remind adults of the need for magic in our lives and the importance of pursuing our dreams. When an evil ruler imprisons all the unicorns, the last free unicorn sets off with her comical companions to find them. Delightful fantasy classic. Animated film version released in 1982.
Watership Down by Richard Adams (1972)
Allegorical tale of a group of rabbits who lose their home to a property developer. They go searching for a new home, giving insights into their culture and mythos along the way. As unlikely as it sounds, Watership Down is an intelligently written book that challenges notions of ethics and morality at every turn. A classroom favourite.
The Brothers Lionheart by Astrid Lindgren (1973)
Swedish children's author best known for her Pipi Longstocking books based on a character invented by her ailing daughter. In Brothers Lionheart a sickly ten year old about to die turns to his older brother for comfort. He is told of the wondrous land of the afterlife, Nangijala, where fantastical sagas are the order of the day. A unique children's book that tackles life and death head on.
The Neverending Story by Michael Ende (1979; English translation 1983)
The English translation of this fine novel and subsequent feature films brought Ende international success to rival that he enjoyed in his native Germany. A young boy steals The Neverending Story from an antique bookshop and becomes immersed in its pages, an adventure in the land of Fantastica. Eventually the boy becomes an intimate part of the adventure.
'Redwall Series' by Brian Jacques (1986)
First instalment in the long-running Redwall series. The heroic mice of Redwall Abbey stage a resistance struggle against a band of predators led by the evil one-eyed rat Cluny the Scourge. Jacques left school at the age of 15 and after trying a few things - including police work and stand-up comedy - he wrote his first Redwall novel for the children at a school for the blind. (ages 9-12)