A couple of extra days off this week means the perfect opportunity to pick up a book and take to a quiet corner, or share a heart-warming story with family.
We asked our team which stories they've always been fond of and what it is that makes them love them so much. Read on to discover the classic tales Rikke, Jo and Clare hold close to their hearts.
THE EMPEROR’S NEW CLOTHES BY HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSEN
I have always loved to read. I find it amazing when an author is able to describe a fictional world so well that you can close your eyes and see the scenery and people, and feel what the people feel. Time doesn't always allow me to read as much as I’d like to, but luckily, the Easter break give us all a good excuse to cuddle up inside and indulge in some classics.
One of my favourite authors is Hans Christian Andersen and I will be reading his fairytales this Easter. Growing up in Denmark, H.C. Andersen’s tales were a part of my upbringing and before we started reading his fairytales in school, my parents had already read many of them to me as bedtime stories. I have the collected works in a version from 1941. My parents gave them to me for my 18th birthday and they are still some of my most-loved books.
One of my favourite things about H.C. Andersen’s works is that they’re fairytales which every child loves, but are written in such an intelligent way that adults love them equally. The stories have so many layers that unfold the more you read them and the older you get.
I absolutely love The Emperor's New Clothes and my favourite character is the child who cries out loud that the Emperor is completely naked. It’s remarkable that everyone ignored the obvious, as they didn't want to go against the stream and say aloud what everyone was thinking. I believe this was H. C. Andersen’s way of telling the world not to always believe what you’re told and to think for yourself. And this exact point makes the story just as relevant now as when it was first published in 1837.
PETER PAN BY SIR JAMES MATTHEW BARRIE
The timeless tale of Peter Pan was one of the first ‘grown up’ books I read and it’s still among one my most treasured fairytales. Based on Sir J.M. Barrie's famous play, Peter Pan is the perfect read for those looking to escape to another world full of excitement and adventure.
The story begins with Peter Pan visiting the Darling family to hear Mrs Darling read bedtime stories to her three children Wendy, John and Michael. Peter somehow magically leaves his shadow behind and when he returns later to retrieve it, he accidentally wakes Wendy and her brothers. The children happily help Peter ‘sew’ his shadow back on and then begin to talk about a mysterious world named Neverland. With a little pixie dust and a bit of practice, Peter teaches the Darling children to fly and together they fly out the window and off to this magical land.
In the enchanting fantasy world of Neverland, the children go on an adventure where they meet unforgettable characters such as Tinker Bell, the Lost Boys, mermaids, Native Americans and pirates. I have always loved the idea of Neverland; a magical place where you don't grow old and where people don't have any responsibilities.
Although I'm a huge fan of the Peter Pan film and adaptations including Finding Neverland
, I'd highly recommend reading the original book. Even though the language is light-hearted and humorous, the book is much darker and sinister than the film, which loses so much of the brilliant narration, including a very touching scene at the end.
I think Peter Pan is one of the greatest adventure stories ever written and feel it’s a must-read for all ages. I would recommend it to anyone who loves a good old-fashioned story and to anyone with a love of adventure.
THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE BY C.S. LEWIS
What a wonderland C.S. Lewis’ tale The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe is. I remember being obsessed with checking, and checking again, to see if there was some kind of magical portal at the back of every wardrobe at home after first reading the book. Even as an adult, I'm still somewhat hopeful!
The story is the first of seven in the series The Chronicles of Narnia and set in the '40s, tells the tale of four curious brothers and sisters. The siblings are evacuated from London during the Second World War and are relocated to a huge country house where they discover an old wardrobe that’s actually a door to a magical land called Narnia. It’s here that the children befriend all manner of talking animals, including Aslan the majestic lion, within a dream-like snowy setting.
Without giving too much more away, it’s not all plain sailing. An incident involving innocent enough looking, sugary Turkish Delight signals the beginnings of serious trouble for the children. I don’t want to spoil your enjoyment so will leave the rest for you to discover (or discover all over again).
I've always loved that The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe somehow captures the magic of Christmas, making the book a joy to return to throughout the year, particularly given how quickly the festive season comes and goes. The story also makes me feel like I've never really grown up. It's almost an accidental reminder that we never really lose that child at heart and that alone brings a really huge smile to my face.
What classic tales did you love to read when growing up? Is there something you'll be sharing with your family this Easter? Let us know.
The Braintree Team x