Top Five City Stories - Judith Eagle

For as long as I can remember I have loved stories set in cities. Cities are full of hustle and bustle, noise and life, movement and change and - best of all – jam-packed with places to get lost in and find adventure!

Smith

Leon Garfield

I have a passion for books set in eighteenth and nineteenth-century London – tales brimming with dark courts, fog-bound alleyways and n’er do wells lurking in the shadows.  There are echoes of Oliver Twist in this story about Smith, a ragamuffin pickpocket, who, when he steals a mysterious ‘dockiment’ from an elderly man, gets caught up in a murderous plot that puts both his, and his sisters’ lives in terrible danger. Garfield was a master storyteller and his books may - as was the case with me - prove to be the perfect stepping stone to Dickens.

Emil and the Detectives

Erich Kastner

I love Emil, who sets off full of innocence and good cheer to visit his grandma in Berlin, when – uh oh - a sinister man in a black bowler hat steals all his money while he is sleeping on the train.  What follows is a glorious caper across the city, as Emil and all the children of Berlin team up to use wit and cunning to pursue and capture the thief.   Kastner published Emil and the Detectives in 1929, and it is thought to be the first children’s book to positively portray the city as a place of excitement and adventure.  It also has my favourite villain, Herr Grundeis in it. Wonderful!

A Hundred Million Francs

Paul Berna

Don’t expect to encounter the Eiffel Tower or the Arc de Triomphe within the pages of this book.  Paul Berna’s classic is set in the back streets of Paris, on the periphery of the city, where a band of scruffy children get entangled in the theft of a hundred million francs from the Paris-Ventimiglia Express.  This is a lovely adventure, packed with likeable characters, twists, turns and a satisfying comeuppance for the villains.

From the Mixed up Files of Mrs Basil E Frankweiler

E.L Konigsburg

Ten year old Claudia is funny, smart and sophisticated, and when she decides to run away, it is not to the boring old countryside, but to the razzle dazzle of New York City.  Here, she and her brother Jamie camp out in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, pound the city streets, use the typewriter outside the Olivetti store on Fifth Avenue, eat lunch at the Automat, and visit New York Public Library to solve a mystery surrounding one of the museum's exhibits.  There is something special about New York that has inspired many children’s writers to capture the spirit of the city in their books.  I love them all, but because of Claudia, this is the one I love most.

Mortal Engines

Philip Reeve

Set in a distant, dystopian future, the predatory traction city of London is a terrible place, with the richest living in luxury on the top tiers and the poorest living in squalor far down below. But there is another, more hopeful city in Reeve’s book. Batmunkh Gompa is beautiful, carved from rock with tiers of terraces and balconies, sparkling lakes, lush gardens, and brightly coloured taxi balloons.   With its slogan ‘we shall make the world green again’, this is the utopian dream – and definitely the one I’d prefer to live in.

Many thanks to Judith Eagle for compiling this guest booklist for us. We couldn't leave this list of books about cities there without adding Judith's own new book The Pear Affair, which is set in Paris and its underground network of tunnels.

The Pear Affair

Judith Eagle & Kim Geyer

When Penelope Magnificent's awful parents tell her they're taking a trip to Paris, she surprises them by begging to go along. Nell is usually content to avoid her money-obsessed father and her fashion-focussed mother, but Paris holds something very dear to her... her old au pair Perrine - Pear - lives there. Pear used to write to Nell every week promising to come to her rescue but recently the letters have stopped...

Arriving at her parent's posh hotel, Nell is determined to find Pear... but no one has seen her at her last known address, and no one seems to want to tell her anything about Pear's whereabouts. Luckily she befriends the hotel bellboy who introduces her to the world of tunnels underneath the city, and together they set out to find Pear, whilst uncovering an extraordinary mystery of their own...

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Top Five City Stories - Judith Eagle For as long as I can remember I have loved stories set in cities. Cities are full of hustle and bustle, noise and life, movement and change and - best of all – jam-packed with places to get lost in and find adventure! ​ Smith Leon Garfield I have a passion for books set in eighteenth and nineteenth-century London – tales brimming with dark courts, fog-bound alleyways and n’er do wells lurking in the shadows.  There are echoes of Oliver Twist in this story about Smith, a ragamuffin pickpocket, who, when he steals a mysterious ‘dockiment’ from an elderly man, gets caught up in a murderous plot that puts both his, and his sisters’ lives in terrible danger. Garfield was a master storyteller and his books may - as was the case with me - prove to be the perfect stepping stone to Dickens. Buy Online Emil and the Detectives Erich Kastner I love Emil, who sets off full of innocence and good cheer to visit his grandma in Berlin, when – uh oh - a sinister man in a black bowler hat steals all his money while he is sleeping on the train.  What follows is a glorious caper across the city, as Emil and all the children of Berlin team up to use wit and cunning to pursue and capture the thief.   Kastner published Emil and the Detectives in 1929, and it is thought to be the first children’s book to positively portray the city as a place of excitement and adventure.  It also has my favourite villain, Herr Grundeis in it. Wonderful! Buy Online One Hundred Million Francs Paul Berna Don’t expect to encounter the Eiffel Tower or the Arc de Triomphe within the pages of this book.  Paul Berna’s classic is set in the back streets of Paris, on the periphery of the city, where a band of scruffy children get entangled in the theft of a hundred million francs from the Paris-Ventimiglia Express.  This is a lovely adventure, packed with likeable characters, twists, turns and a satisfying comeuppance for the villains. Buy Online From the Mixed up Files of Mrs Basil E Frankweiler E.L Konigsburg Ten year old Claudia is funny, smart and sophisticated, and when she decides to run away, it is not to the boring old countryside, but to the razzle dazzle of New York City.  Here, she and her brother Jamie camp out in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, pound the city streets, use the typewriter outside the Olivetti store on Fifth Avenue, eat lunch at the Automat, and visit New York Public Library to solve a mystery surrounding one of the museums exhibits.  There is something special about New York that has inspired many children’s writers to capture the spirit of the city in their books.  I love them all, but because of Claudia, this is the one I love most. Buy Online Mortal Engines Philip Reeve Set in a distant, dystopian future, the predatory traction city of London is a terrible place, with the richest living in luxury on the top tiers and the poorest living in squalor far down below. But there is another, more hopeful city in Reeve’s book. Batmunkh Gompa is beautiful, carved from rock with tiers of terraces and balconies, sparkling lakes, lush gardens, and brightly coloured taxi balloons.   With its slogan ‘we shall make the world green again’, this is the utopian dream – and definitely the one I’d prefer to live in. Buy Online Many thanks to Judith Eagle for compiling this guest booklist for us. We couldn't leave this list of books about cities there without adding Judith's own new book The Pear Affair, which is set in Paris and its underground network of tunnels. The Pear Affair Judith Eagle & Kim Geyer When Penelope Magnificent's awful parents tell her they're taking a trip to Paris, she surprises them by begging to go along. Nell is usually content to avoid her money-obsessed father and her fashion-focussed mother, but Paris holds something very dear to her... her old au pair Perrine - Pear - lives there. Pear used to write to Nell every week promising to come to her rescue but recently the letters have stopped... Arriving at her parent's posh hotel, Nell is determined to find Pear... but no one has seen her at her last known address, and no one seems to want to tell her anything about Pear's whereabouts. Luckily she befriends the hotel bellboy who introduces her to the world of tunnels underneath the city, and together they set out to find Pear, whilst uncovering an extraordinary mystery of their own... ​ Read our full review on the blog.

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