Top 5 books to read before you’re 12 – as chosen by Catherine Gilbert Murdock

Save Queen Victoria from naughty alien invaders or revel in the delightful retelling of the legend of King Arthur in these books to read before you're 12, as chosen by children's author Catherine Gilbert Murdock

The Sword in the Stone
TH White

This delightful retelling of the legend of King Arthur includes a plucky orphan named Wart, a hapless Merlin, a forest outlaw named Robin Wood (Wood, mind you; not Hood)… a delicious platter of medieval treats.

Ordinary Jack
Helen Cresswell

The first book in The Bagthorpe Saga, Ordinary Jack features a family of eccentric geniuses with one ordinary brother. When Jack sets out to raise the morale of a dog named Zero, his plans go up in smoke. And flames. One of my favorite books from childhood.

Watership Down
Richard Adams

Another fave. Adams writes an epic of Homeric scale about rabbits seeking a place to call home. The final battle is as gripping as any story ever told.

Larklight
Philip Reeve

Young Art and bossy sister Myrtle travel the solar system by steampunk spacecraft to save Queen Victoria from naughty alien invaders. Pirates and space spiders only add to the fun. The first in a series.

The Book of Boy
Catherine Gilbert Murdock

This one’s by me! In the year 1350, the goatherd Boy – so he’s named – finds himself employed by a fierce and mysterious pilgrim headed for Rome. The pilgrim, it soon emerges, is actually a thief toting a sack of priceless relics. But Boy has secrets of his own, secrets that could get them killed… as well as a mysterious power that might just save their lives.

The Book of Boy by Catherine Gilbert Murdock is out now (Chicken House, £6.99)