Miyazaki’s 50 recommended children’s books

As a number of Hayao Miyazaki’s Studio Ghibli movies are based on either novels or manga, it is perhaps unsurprising that he has made a list of his favourite children’s books. Because it’s quite a long list (50 in total!), here are a few of his top books:

Syndetics book coverThe little prince / written and drawn by Antoine de Saint-Exupery ; translated from the French by Katherine Woods.
“This new translation into “modern” English brings a classic tale into sharper focus for today’s teens without sacrificing the beauty and simplicity of the author’s writing, and the “restored” artwork has all the charm of the original drawings. What appears to be a simple tale of two lost souls-one, a pilot marooned in the desert next to his ditched plane; the other, a minuscule prince in self-imposed exile from an asteroid so small that he can watch the sunset 44 times a day-reveals itself as something far more complex. What appears to be a fairy tale for children opens like the petals of the Little Prince’s flower into a fantasy that has lessons for all of us.” (adapted from School Library Journal)

The Rose and the RingThe Rose and the Ring / by William Makepeace Thackeray “Between the kingdoms of Paflagonia and Crim Tartary, there lived a mysterious personage, who was known in those countries as the Fairy Blackstick, from the ebony wand or crutch which she carried; on which she rode to the moon sometimes, or upon other excursions of business or pleasure, and with which she performed her wonders. When she was young, and had been first taught the art of conjuring by the necromancer, her father, she was always practicing her skill, whizzing about from one kingdom to another upon her black stick, and conferring her fairy favors upon this Prince or that.” (Books in Print)

Syndetics book coverThe three musketeers / Alexandre Dumas ; translated and with an introduction by Lord Sudley
“Dumas’s tale of swashbuckling and heroism follows the fortunes of d’Artagnan, a headstrong country boy who travels to Paris to join the Musketeers – the bodyguard of King Louis XIII. Here he falls in with Athos, Porthos and Aramis, and the four friends soon find themselves caught up in court politics and intrigue. Together they must outwit Cardinal Richelieu and his plot to gain influence over the King, and thwart the beautiful spy Milady’s scheme to disgrace the Queen. In The Three Musketeers, Dumas breathed fresh life into the genre of historical romance, creating a vividly realized cast of characters and a stirring dramatic narrative.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe secret garden / Frances Hodgson Burnett ; illustrated by Robin Lawrie.
“Ten-year-old Mary comes to live in a lonely house on the Yorkshire moors and discovers an invalid cousin and the mysteries of a locked garden.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAlice’s adventures in Wonderland / by Lewis Carroll ; illustrated by POP ; adapted by Michiyo Hayano ; English translation by Camellia Nich.
“Lewis Carroll’s universally known story of a little girl who falls down a rabbit hole into a magical Wonderland is given a new spin in this lushly illustrated version of the classic tale. Alice was sitting in a field reading when a white rabbit scampered by. She didn’t know what was odder: that the rabbit was running on its hind legs, wearing a jacket, and carrying a pocket watch, or that it was talking, shouting, “I’m late! I’m late!” From the moment she decided to follow the rabbit into his rabbit hole, Alice was transported to a fantastical place called Wonderland, where anything was possible. All of the familiar characters are here: the Hatter, the March Hare, the Cheshire Cat, the Caterpillar, and the wicked Queen of Hearts.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe complete Sherlock Holmes / Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
“Over one hundred years have passed since Sir Arthur Conan Doyle intoduced his inimitable sleuth, Sherlock Holmes, to the world–and his popularity has never waned. This oversized commemorative volume contains the entire canon of Holmes adventures, both before and after his creator’s attempt to dispatch him in print. Just as the character, Holmes, prevails and defies even death, these detective stories featuring him and Dr. Watson have withstood more than the test of time: they defined and changed the way modern crime writers approached detective fiction.” (Syndetics summary)

See here for photos from a lovely Miyazaki exhibition and the rest of the list (you may wish to cross reference with the list on Amazon, as some of the titles are in Russian script).