Category Archives: Top 10 lists

Top 10 favourite book quotes from children’s and teen’s fiction

There are obviously too many quotes to choose from, but these are among my favourites. Some will make you think, others will just bring a smile.

Hopefully they will all make you read the book.


1.No offence, but I’d rather kiss the horse.”  

Alex Rider in Point Blanc, Anthony Horowitz.

2. “I hope you’re pleased with yourselves. We could have all been killed – or worse, expelled.”

Hermione in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. J. K. Rowling.

3. “If I win, I’m a prodigy. If I lose then I’m mad. That’s the way history is written.”

Artemis Fowl in Artemis Fowl, Eoin Colfer.

4. “People say nothing is impossible, but I do nothing every day.”

 Pooh in Winnie-the-Pooh, A.A. Milne.

5.  “I’m wondering what to read next. I’ve finished all the children’s books.”

  Matilda in Matilda, Roald Dahl

6. “I don’t go looking for trouble. Trouble usually finds me.”

 Harry Potter, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, J. K. Rowling

7.  “Sometimes you’re a little strange, Bella. Do you know that?”

 Jacob, New Moon, Stephenie Meyer

 8. “That’s what Hermione does. When in doubt, go to the library.”

 Ron, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, J. K. Rowling

  9.  “A person’s a person, no matter how small.”

Horton, Horton Hears a Who!, Dr. Seuss

10. “Curiouser and curiouser.”  

Alice, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass, Lewis Carroll


 Special mention to the master of the one-liner Rick Riordan, with this gem from Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief:

“The entrance to the Underworld is in Los Angeles.”


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Top 10 adventure authors for teens

There is nothing guaranteed to get a teenager reading more than an exciting, action-packed thriller. The authors in this list have written the page-turners; the books which are full of suspense and adventure, and which grow in popularity through word of mouth promotion.

There is a prevalence of British authors in this list, as well as an abundance of ex-military heroes. Another commonality is the theme of orphaned children being recruited by government agencies to work as spies – aspiring authors take note.

It is important to remember Reading Rule no. 5 here – this is simply a list of authors known to get teens reading. It does not pretend to be a list of classic authors, nor do these authors pretend to be writers of great literature.

1. Matthew Reilly.

Reilly is the master of the action packed adventure story. Teenagers (especially boys) devour his books, which are full of non-stop action and leave the reader quite breathless. Reilly’s latest book, Scarecrow and the Army of Thieves, has just been released and continues the adventures of his popular hero Captain Shane Schofield.


 2. Anthony Horowitz

Horowitz is the author of the popular Alex Rider books which follow the winning formula of orphaned teenager with special skills being snapped up by the government to work as an undercover operative. Horowitz is a great story teller and Alex Rider is an extremely popular hero with teens.

3. Andy McNab

McNab is one of a number of ex SAS members who now make their living as authors. His non-fiction book Bravo Two Zero was a huge success and McNab now writes fiction as well, featuring the character Nick Stone who is an ex SAS operative working for British Intelligence

4. Robert Muchamore

Muchamore is the author of the hugely popular Cherub series, about a secret British spy organization which employs children as spies.  His other series, the Henderson Boys is set during World War II and deal with the creation of the Cherub organization. The Cherub series is one of the most popular in recent years.

5. Robert Ludlum

Ludlum needs no introduction. The Bourne Identity is an extremely popular thriller written in 1980. It has stood the test of time, no doubt assisted by the 2002 film starring Matt Damon.  The sequels The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum have also proven popular. Despite Ludlum’s death in 2001, the franchise has continued with other books in the series written by Eric Van Lustbader.

6. Tom Clancy

I always know when books are particularly popular in the library as they need regular repair and eventual replacement. Clancy’s books have fallen into this category in every library I’ve worked in. The most popular Clancy books are those about Jack Ryan ex-Marine and CIA operative, such as Patriot Games and Clear and Present Danger.

7. Chris Ryan

Yet another British ex SAS turned author. The One That Got Away is his account of the Bravo Two Zero mission that he, like McNab was a part of in the first Gulf War. Ryan has written two series for teens: Alpha Force and Code Red. His current series for teenagers is Agent 21, which is about an orphaned teenager seconded by the government to work as a spy.

8. Lee Child

Child is the author of the hugely popular Jack Reacher novels. For a change of pace, Reacher is not ex SAS, rather he is a former military policeman. There are sixteen Jack Reacher novels, with the ninth in the series One Shot currently being made into a movie.

9. Dan Brown

Teenagers, especially boys, really enjoy the Dan Brown books. Clearly they enjoy the action and suspense, but they also really enjoy the treasure hunt aspect of them.

10. Vince Flynn

Flynn writes political adventure thrillers, and I’ve heard him referred to as the thinking person’s Matthew Reilly.  Flynn’s hero is Mitch Rapp, undercover CIA counter-terrorism agent.

Update: Special mention to Joe Craig for all the fans of the Jimmy Coates series.


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How many of these books have your kids read?

Dymocks recently published its list of the Top 51 books for kids. You can see the original list here with recommended reading ages.

I’ve added a few annotations to the list – how many books on the Top 51 list have you and your children read?

 1. The Harry Potter series. J. K. Rowling.

First place is really no surprise and reflects the popularity, quality and longevity of the Harry Potter series. (The first book was released fourteen years ago). Perhaps these are the reasons why the Harry Potter books also rate a mention on nearly every one of my Top 10 lists .

2. The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Eric Carle.

A classic picture book first published over forty years ago. It should be on the bookshelf in every child’s room.

3. The Very Bad Book. Andy Griffiths

This is classic Andy Griffiths, and definitely a book that to which some parents and teachers will need to apply Reading Rule no.6  – loosen your filter.

4. Where is the Green Sheep? Mem Fox & Judy Horacek

This is a great book to teach younger children that despite external differences we are all the same.

5. The Vampire Academy novels. Richelle Mead.

These books are extremely popular with teenage girls which is clearly reflected by their place in this list. They also hold third place in my Top 10 books for teenage girls .

6. The Hunger Games trilogy. Suzanne Collins.

This is a fabulous series, equally popular with girls and boys. The much anticipated movie release due in 2012 will only serve to heighten both the awareness and popularity of the book.

7. Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Jeff Kinney.

Hilarious for all ages and great for sharing at bedtime.

8. Anne of Green Gables. Book 1. L. M. Montgomery.

A classic novel with a delightfully clever and precocious protagonist.

9. Possum Magic. Mem Fox.

One of the more famous Australian picture books. This is the book I send friends overseas when they have a baby.

10. The Tomorrow series. John Marsden

This series makes my Top 10 books for teenage boys and my Top 10 books in the library lists. It is one of the most popular literary series for YA ever written in Australia.

11. Where the Wild Things Are. Maurice Sendak.

A powerful picture about the magnificence of childhood imagination.

12. The Twilight Saga. Stephenie Meyer.

Put aside your literary snobbery (Reading rule no. 5) and celebrate a series that has sold over 100 million copies and got kids around the world reading.

13. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Roald Dahl.

Pure Dahl genius combining every child’s fantasy with a message about honour and integrity.

14. Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes. Mem Fox.

Published only a few years ago, this has quickly become a new Mem Fox classic.

15. The Chronicles of Narnia. C. S. Lewis

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is the first and best known of this seven book series. Fantasy at its best.

16. The Magic Faraway Tree. Enid Blyton.

Children of all ages just adore Moonface, Silky and the Saucepan Man.

17. Goodnight Mr Tom. Michelle Magorian.

A beautiful book set in wartime England.

18. Green Eggs and Ham. Dr Seuss.

Loved by all ages, this is the first of a few mentions of books by the celebrated Seuss.

19. The Percy Jackson series. Rick Riordan

This refers to the first series of five books, loved by boys and girls alike. The second series, Heroes of Olympus is proving equally as popular.

20. The Ruins of Gorlan. Book 1 of the Ranger’s Apprentice series. John Flanagan.

This fantasy series has eleven books in it, with another due out in November 2011. Very popular with teenage boys.

21. The Cherub series. Robert Muchamore.

The most recent book in this series is currently the third most borrowed book in the library. I have trouble keeping this series on the shelves.

22. Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s Dairy. Lynley Dodd.

The very popular picture books about a lovable dog and his friends.

23. The Gruffalo. Julia Donaldson

Another picture book about the power of childhood imagination. Fantastic rhyming.

24. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Lewis Carroll.

Always popular, even before Johnny Depp became the Mad Hatter.

25. Artemis Fowl. Book 1. Eoin Colfer.

Artemis Fowl is a 12 year old criminal mastermind. These books have great plots and terrific humour.

26. The Mortal Instruments series. Cassandra Clare.

This series is extremely popular with the boys in the library.

27. We’re Going on a Bear Hunt. Michael Rosen.

A fantastic picture book for reading aloud (Reading rule no.3). This was a favourite in our house when our children were little.

28. Winnie-the-Pooh. A. A. Milne

A favourite of children and adults everywhere.

29. Wombat Stew. Marcia K. Vaughan.

Like Possum Magic, this is another classic Australian picture book, a modern folktale.

30. Obernetwyn. Book 1. Obernetwyn Chronicles. Isabelle Carmody.

Classic fantasy, and in my experience more popular with girls than boys.

31. The Complete Adventures of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie. May Gibbs

This book has never been out of print and contains the most beautiful illustrations in Australian literary history.

32. Stormbreaker. Book 1. Alex Rider series. Anthony Horowitz.

I love the Alex Rider books. Alex is intelligent, decent and funny.

33. Dear Zoo. Rod Campbell.

A picture book for early readers, great for reading aloud.

34. Diary of a Wombat. Jackie French.

I laughed out loud the first time I read this book. A picture book for all ages about a wombat with serious attitude.

35. Oh, the Places You’ll Go. Dr Seuss.

More classic Seuss. No explanation necessary.

36. Grug. Ted Prior.

Over thirty years old, this story set in the Australian bush is still a favourite.

37. Guess How Much I Love You. Sam McBratney

A beautiful book which has become a worldwide phenomenon selling over 18 million copies. I even have a copy in German.

38. Hush, Hush. Becca Fitzpatrick

This book is for teenage girls who enjoyed the Twilight series. It meets the needs of the current interest in the paranormal.

39. Treasure of the Emerald Eye. Book 1. Geronimo Stilton. Geronimo Stilton.

An adventure story for primary aged children.

40. Wolves of Mercy Falls series. Maggie Stiefvater

Fantasy romance series about (in the words of the author) “werewolves and kissing”.

41. The Cat in the Hat. Dr Seuss

My all time favourite Dr Seuss. I learned it off byheart as a child and can still recite most of it. I must have driven my parents mad. 

42. The Hobbit. J. R. R. Tolkien.

Lord of the Rings is more popular in the library, but The Hobbit is an all-time classic.

43. The Witches. Roald Dahl.

Dahl’s witches are the original and the best.

44. Zac’s Moontrip. Book 1. Zac Power Test Drive. H. I. Larry

Primary school boys love Zac Power.

45. Maze of Bones. Book 1. The 39 Clues. Rick Riordan.

Whilst this series hasn’t taken off in the library, it has been incredibly popular elsewhere. Riordan knows how to write great mystery and adventure.

46. Each Peach, Pear Plum. Janet and Allan Ahlberg

A more stylish Where’s Wally, where children read the poem for clues to help them find a character hiding in the illustration.

47. The B.F.G. Roald Dahl

The third Roald Dahl on the list. He is the original and one of the best.

48. The Tale of Peter Rabbit. Beatrix Potter

Peter Rabbit is so cheeky, and Mr McGregor is the classic cranky farmer. Accompanying the entertaining story are the beautiful and very famous illustrations.

49. Magic Beach. Alison Lester

Alison Lester is a prolific writer of picture books and a  favourite of teachers who love her work. This book explores the perfect beach.

50.Little Women. Louisa May Alcott

This book has stood the test of time due mainly to the character of Josephine March who makes my list of Top 10 heroines for girls.

51. Five on Treasure Island. Book 1. Famous Five. Enid Blyton.

I am so glad that the Famous Five made this list! Every child should read adventures involving smugglers and spies, washed down by lashings of ginger beer.

It’s a well-rounded list including a mixture of the old and the new; books for early readers, primary school children and young adults. Adults too actually, as I’ve read most of them. The ones I haven’t are now on my list.

How many have you read?

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My top 10 heroes in literature

It is nigh on impossible to pick just ten heroes from the plethora of books I have read over the years. To narrow it down, I decided  to concentrate on the characters who stayed with me long after I read the final chapter; characters whom I used as a yardstick to measure the charm and integrity of others; and characters that I simply enjoyed for their unique and enduring appeal. After much deliberation, I came up with this list:

1. Scarlett O’Hara (Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell)

Scarlett is rebellious and manipulative but at the same time she is so full of passion, courage and determination that it is impossible not to admire her spirit. She is unafraid to buck convention: when she is young for her own gain; as she matures out of sheer loyalty to those she loves and protects. She is one of the vainest, fiercest and possibly least insightful characters I have ever read, and I simply adore her.

2. Fitzwilliam Darcy (Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen)

So great is his love for Elizabeth Bennett, he moves heaven and earth to save the reputation of her sister Lydia, one of Austen’s least likeable characters. Moreover, he is man enough to admit his failings and mistakes, and concede his pride. He is literature’s perfect gentleman.

3. Jane Eyre (Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte)

She is a strong, intelligent woman and like so many literary protagonists, well before her time. She utters one of the most powerfully moving short sentences in literary history: “Reader, I married him”.

© Catherine Powers 2011

4. Neville Longbottom (Harry Potter series, J.K.Rowling)

Much like the ugly duckling, Neville blossoms into an extraordinary young man and leader in the Deathly Hallows. Throughout the previous Harry Potter books Neville is constantly bullied and harassed, yet he never loses his pleasant demeanour, nor does he waver from his hatred of Voldemort or his loyalty towards his family.

5. Fanny Price (Mansfield Park, Jane Austen)

Fanny is regarded as Austen’s least likeable heroine, but she is one of my favourites.  Fanny has to endure hardship and discrimination but never ever yields from her admirable scruples and innate goodness. Her childhood is hideous, she is treated poorly at Mansfield Park, particularly by the revolting Mrs Norris, yet she is never tempted to change who she is. Like all of Austen’s women she extremely self-assured, yet unlike Emma, she is not arrogant in her self-acceptance.

6. Jean Pagett (A Town Like Alice, Nevil Shute)

As a teenage girl I was mesmerised by Jean in A Town Like Alice. She spent three years as a POW being marched around Malaysia, surviving the brutalities of war. Later when she finds out Joe Harman is still alive, she travels half way around the world to a very foreign country to find him. She endures the harshness of outback Australia with dignity and humour, and shows entrepreneurial skill in an era when women garnered little co-operation or respect in doing so. She is one tough lady.

7. Rhett Butler (Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell)

Much as I don’t want to list two characters from the same book (even if it is a Pulitzer Prize winner), it would be dishonest of me not to include Rhett as one of my favourite heroes. Despite his best attempts to appear otherwise, Rhett is a decent, caring and sympathetic man. Extremely intelligent, impeccably dressed, warm and sensual he may be literature’s first metrosexual.

8. Atticus Finch (To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee)

The most honourable man and father in literature, progressive, tolerant and well before his time, Atticus is a true literary hero.

9. Felix (Once, Morris Gleitzman , and the sequels Then and Now)

Felix is possibly the most candid, clever, funny and likeable boy I’ve read in recent years. In a novel that tackles one of the most tragic times in modern history, the Holocaust, Gleitzman manages to create a character who is utterly charming. Felix is a beautiful hero as his spirit never changes despite the trauma he endures.

10. Grandma Mazur (Stephanie Plum books, Janet Evanovich)

Indulge me. The Stephanie Plum books could hardly be called literature, but Grandma Mazur has to be on this list because she makes me laugh out loud and I want to be just like her when I grow up.

With special mentions to: Madame (Emma) Bovary, Elizabeth Bennett, Emma Woodhouse, Anna Karenina, Holly Golightly and the Cat in the Hat.

Who is your favourite literary character?


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Top 10 heroines for girls

To me, a heroine is intelligent and courageous and not afraid to be different. She is resourceful and enterprising, quick-witted and self-assured.  She has a sense of humour and is not afraid to laugh at herself. She is both entertaining and admirable.

My top 10 heroines for girls fulfil some or all of these qualities, and they are champions for both girls and boys.

1. Hermione Granger (by J.K.Rowling)

Let’s face it – without Hermione, Harry would have died in the first book. Hermione is the brains of the outfit and teams her intelligence with sheer determination and resourcefulness. (Doesn’t every girl want that bottomless handbag she conjured up in the Deathly Hallows?). The thing I love most about Hermione is that whenever she doesn’t know the answer to a problem, she goes to the library and looks it up in a book. Brilliant!

2. Josephine March (by Louisa May Alcott)

I’m sure there are many modern girls and teens who have never heard of Jo March, or Little Women, but Jo is such a wonderful literary role model that I have to place her high in this list. Jo is a girl who is ahead of her time. She is feisty and independent, and has little desire to be constrained by convention or tradition. She remains true to herself, despite the difficulties of being an untraditional woman in the 19th century.

3. Ellie Linton (by John Marsden)

Of the seven teenagers in the Tomorrow series Ellie is the true hero, a fact acknowledged by the later trilogy penned by Marsden called The Ellie Chronicles. Ellie is a tough Aussie chick: she can ride and drive with the best of them, is intelligent and quick-witted and hugely loyal.

4. Katniss Everdeen (by Suzanne Collins)

Katniss is the gutsy protagonist from the Hunger Games trilogy, which is soon to hit the big screen in a movie adaptation. Katniss gets my vote because of her courage, her values and her independent spirit.

5. Matilda Wormwood (by Roald Dahl)

This is the favourite book of one of my daughters. When I chose Matilda as a top 10 heroine, I asked my daughter’s opinion on what it is about Matilda which puts her in this category? She replied “Easy. Matilda has a sucky life but she gets through it.”

6. Josephine Alibrandi (by Marlena Marchetta)

My love for Marchetta’s writing has already been declared elsewhere in this blog. Josie is a heroine because of the obstacles she must overcome: racial bigotry, an absent father and the tragic suicide of a close friend. She represents so many young women who can relate to her journey, and who enjoy her endearing personality. 

8. Trixie Belden (various authors)

What’s not to love about a down-to earth teenage girl detective? Trixie is clever but never loses the appeal of being a typical teenager. The re-release of the books with flashy new covers in the early 2000’s sparked a new generation of fans.

7. Maximum (Max) Ride (by James Patterson) 

Max is the leader of the flock in the hugely popular Angel Experiment series. The result of an experiment, she is 98% human and 2% bird. Max is a heroine because she is a 14 year old leader who shows enormous amounts of responsibilty towards her flock, and she’s incredibly gutsy and determined.

9. Anne Shirley (Lucy Maud Montgomery)

Chatty, imaginative and clever, Anne of Green Gables  is  a classic figure in girls’ fiction and a top 10 list would not be complete without her.

10. Bindy MacKenzie (by Jaclyn Moriarty)

Bindy is a character who polarises audiences, but I adore her. She is so self-assured and so perfect, she simply cannot see why anyone would dislike her. Others may perceive this as arrogance, but Moriarty portrays Bindy as one of the most self-assured adolescent female characters in young adult fiction.


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Top 10 heroes for boys

Whilst these heroes come from fiction that is classed by publishers and booksellers as “boys” fiction, the characters I have chosen are champions for both boys and girls.

To me, a hero is someone with many qualities. A hero displays bravery of course, but humility as well. A hero is intelligent but self-deprecating at the same time. A hero is industrious and enterprising, with an excellent sense of humour. Above all, a hero in a boy’s book must be entertaining.

My top 10 heroes for boys fulfil some or all of these qualities:

1. Harry Potter (by J. K Rowling)

Harry is brave and resourceful, yet he is far from perfect. He is not a particularly good student and is shy around girls. He makes enemies and he makes mistakes. Yet he is a true friend, both loyal and honourable.

2. Alex Rider (by Anthony Horowitz)

Unlike Harry, Alex is intelligent and pretty cool. He can speak other languages, is pretty handy with weapons and other devices and is great with the funny one liner.

3. Shane Schofield aka Scarecrow (by Matthew Reilly)

Scarecrow is a legendary Marine and revered by teenage boys everywhere.

4. James Adams (by Robert Muchamore)

The protagonist from the first twelve Cherub novels, James is intelligent, good looking and successful with the girls. He is a bit of a lad, which contributes to his appeal.

5. Greg Heffley (by Jeff Kinney)

Greg is the narrator of the successful Wimpy Kid franchise.I think kids love Greg so much because he is an “everykid”. He may lack many or all of the talents of the heroes in this list, but what he lacks in sophistication he makes up for in sheer determination and heart.

6. Percy Jackson (by Rick Riordan)

There is something very appealing and alluring about a boy who is also a half-god. Maybe this is why girls especially love the Percy Jackon series.

7. Biggles (by W.E Johns)

What’s not to love about this timeless young pilot and adventurer?

8. Artemis Fowl (by Eoin Colfer)

Yes, I know he’s a criminal mastermind, but he is such an entertaining one. Artemis has the mind of a man in a child’s body.

9. Huckleberry Finn (by Mark Twain)

Huck is brave, independent and quick-witted. Despite overcoming adversity he retains an appealing innocence.

10. James Bond (by Ian Fleming)

007 needs no explanation. A special mention to the Young Bond books by Charlie Higson, which follow James’ life from his teenage years.


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Top 10 books in the library

These are the Top 10 books in the library at the moment.

The library is in a boys’ secondary school and the Top 10 clearly reflects the teenage male demographic.

1. I am Number Four by Pittacus Lore.

This takes out the number one spot thanks largely to the release of the 2nd book in the series (see no. 4). Through word of mouth, the popularity of this series is spreading and the boys are scrambling to read the first book so they can move on in the series.

2. The Dead of the Night by John Marsden.

This is the second book in the Tomorrow series. Despite being first published in 1993, this book is consistently popular with teenagers.

3. People’s Republic by Robert Muchamore.

The first book in a new series of the Cherub franchise, this time introducing a new protagonist: the young Ryan Sharma.

4. The Power of Six by Pittacus Lore.

This is the second book in the Lorien Legacies series. This series is genius, and a winner with the boys. See my review here.

5. Department 19 by Will Hill.

Best book of the year. See my review here.

6. Tomorrow When the War Began by John Marsden.

Marsden really tapped into something in the teenage psyche with this series. The movie adaptation has renewed interest in this wonderful book.

7. Burning for Revenge by John Marsden.

Number 5 in the Tomorrow series.

8. Dark Fire by Chris d’Lacey.

The only fantasy book to make the Top 10, this is the fifth book in the Last Dragon Chronicles. 

9. Just tricking by Andy Griffiths.  

Thank you Year 7 for including some timeless Andy Griffiths’ fun in this list.

10. The Maze Runner by James Dashner.

A brilliant dystopian novel – the first in a trilogy. The second book The Scorch Trials is also extremely popular and the last book is eagerly anticipated by the boys.

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