Remarkable Friendships: Better Reading on the Special Friendships Our Favourite Characters Shared

Remarkable Friendships: Better Reading on the Special Friendships Our Favourite Characters Shared

At Better Reading Kids we have so many wonderful memories of childhood that are based around books but one of our most vivid is of the remarkable friendships that our favourite characters shared. Often, they didn’t seem like normal friendships in normal circumstances but nevertheless they were something to be admired and envied. We reviewed a new series by author Felice Arena last week called The Besties and it got us thinking about all those friendships we had that were set amongst the pages of books rather than on the playground.

There are some obvious ones – the comradery between Harry, Ron and Hermione in the Harry Potter series and for those of us who grew up on a diet rich in Enid Blyton there were the Famous Five and Secret Seven amongst others. How about the friendship that emerges between Matilda and Miss Honey or Sophie and the BFG and more recently we see Greg and Rowley in Diary of a Wimpy Kid, series. Sally Rippin gave Billy B Brown best friend Jack and Polly has Buster. The girls in The Baby-Sitters Club were absolutely spoilt for choice. There are also whole raft of friendships between people and animals – Charlotte’s Web, The Jungle Book, Winnie the Pooh and the list goes on.

With friendship in mind we’ve compiled a list of the special friendships that we found between the covers of our favourite childhood books.

 Melissa Wilson – Head of Marketing and Children’s Content

I had a few favourites: The Faraway Tree where Joe, Fanny and Beth made friends with all the wonderful characters that lived in The Enchanted Wood. I really wanted to meet the Saucepan Man and Silky and become part of their magical friendship circle. I also loved The Wizard of Oz – Dorothy had friends that would fight to the death for her protecting her from the Wicked Witch of the West and she would undoubtedly do the same for them.

Recently books like Songbird by Ingrid Laguna where friends go above and beyond and Ondine Sherman’s Snow where friends are there to support you through loss and what you believe in are great examples of real friendships.

Jane Tara – Lifestyle Editor

I was obsessed with anything and everything by Enid Blyton when I was young. I wanted to be a part of a gang like The Famous Five or The Secret Seven. And of course, The Faraway Tree… no adults, just magical friends. By the time I was in my tweens, I was obsessed with Archie comics. I loved that gang. But for me, the ultimate friendship series, as a reader and a mother is Harry Potter. Even thinking about how much this series means to me and my children makes me a little teary. One of the great gifts a book can give is friends to the friendless, or at least the child who thinks s/he’s friendless.

Bec Howard – Marketing Coordinator

It should come as no surprise that my ultimate friendship group is The Golden Trio from Harry Potter. I fancied myself as a Hermione and just wished I had Ron and Harry for best friends! Even when they have their arguments, you know they’re strong enough to get through it. I was also obsessed with The Baby-Sitters Club and their amazing friendships. I may have even tried to start my own club! And while not strictly a kid’s book, it was read to me as a child, so I have to include Sam and Frodo from The Lord of the Rings. That loyalty and honesty in a friendship is completely admirable and I try to be that kind of friend.

Reviews

Awesome illustrated chapter book for young readers: Read an extract from The Besties by Felice Arena and Tom Jellett

Review | Extract

8 May 2020

Awesome illustrated chapter book for young readers: Read an extract from The Besties by Felice Arena and Tom Jellett

A Bestie Start to the Year: Review of Felice Arena's New Series

Review | Our Review

7 January 2020

A Bestie Start to the Year: Review of Felice Arena's New Series

Inspiring, Heartwarming and Timely: Review of Songbird by Ingrid Laguna

Review

18 June 2019

Inspiring, Heartwarming and Timely: Review of Songbird by Ingrid Laguna

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Publisher details

The Besties Show and Smell
Authors
Felice Arena, Tom Jellett
Publisher
Penguin
Genre
Children’s Fiction
Released
07 January, 2020

Synopsis

From the author and illustrator of the popular Sporty Kids books comes an exciting new beginner-reader series that celebrates the everyday adventures – at school, at home, in the backyard, even in the living room! A funny, sweet series about kids being kids, where imagination and play rule! Oliver and Ruby have been besties forever . . . Ruby is so looking forward to Show and Tell, but the teacher is away and it looks like she’ll miss out. Plus, the besties won’t get to see what Zac’s talent is – it’s bound to be really funny and gross! Can they turn a very bad day into the very best?

Publisher details

The Besties to the Rescue
Authors
Felice Arena, Tom Jellett
Publisher
Penguin
Genre
Children’s Fiction
Released
07 January, 2020

Synopsis

From the author and illustrator of the popular Sporty Kids books comes an exciting new beginner-reader series that celebrates the everyday adventures – at school, at home, in the backyard, even in the living room! A funny, sweet series about kids being kids, where imagination and play rule! Oliver and Ruby have been besties forever . . . Oliver is trying to record Ruby’s awesome trampoline flips in slow-mo, but he captures something else too. Cutie Pie, the cat from next door, is pouncing on a bird’s nest! The baby bird is too young to fly. Will the besties be the best bird-parents ever?

Publisher details

Snow
Author
Ondine Sherman
Publisher
Pantera Press
Genre
Young Adult Fiction
Released
15 July, 2019

Synopsis

Sometimes you have to leave everything behind to find yourself.Sky is travelling to Alaska to meet her father for the first time.Far away from her friends back in Australia, she navigates the new relationship with her father and meets Jaxon, a local boy struggling with his own problems. In a cold, vast and beautiful place, they are isolated except for the wild animals who live there.As Sky gets to know her father, she finally feels she has a chance of having a real family again. But her father has a secret that threatens everything Sky holds dear. Will she have to choose between family and her love of animals?This is a heart-warming story in the coldest of places.Book 2 in the Animal Allies series.

Publisher details

Songbird
Publisher
Text Publishing
Released
07 May, 2019

Synopsis

Jamila has left her friends, her school and her home in Iraq, and now she has a new home. It’s safe in Australia, but Jamila is finding it hard to settle in. She misses her best friend and worries for her dad’s safety back in Iraq. It’s hard to speak and write in English all day. And Jamila has a secret she wants to keep hidden.When she joins the choir, Jamila begins to feel happy. Singing helps take her worries away. And singing will help her find her place in her new life, a place where she can shine.Songbird is a tender story about belonging, about the importance of friendship and asking for help, and about the parts of our lives we keep concealed.

Synopsis

Jo, Bessie and Frannie are fed up when Connie comes to stay - she's so stuck-up and bossy. But they don't let her stop them having fun with their tree-friends, Silky, Moon-Face and the Saucepan Man. Together they climb through the cloud at the top of the Faraway Tree and visit the wonderful places there, the Land of Secrets and the Land of Treats - and Connie learns to behave herself!

Synopsis

The Enchanted Wood is the first magical story in the Faraway Tree series by the world's best-loved children's author, Enid Blyton.When Joe, Beth and Frannie move to a new home, an Enchanted Wood is on their doorstep. And when they discover the Faraway Tree, that is the beginning of many magical adventures! Join them and their friends Moonface, Saucepan Man and Silky the fairy as they discover which new land is at the top of the Faraway Tree. Will it be the Land of Spells, the Land of Treats, or the Land of Do-As-You-Please? Come on an amazing adventure - there'll be adventures waiting whatever happens.The Faraway Tree stories have been delighting readers for over 75 years. Look out for the other titles in the Faraway Tree series: The Faraway Tree, Folk of the Faraway Tree, and Up the Faraway Tree. Also available in beautiful deluxe editions. Also look out for the Blyton Colour Reads series. Chock full of vibrant colour illustrations from Alex Paterson, these are the perfect way to introduce the Faraway Tree adventures to children aged five and up.

Synopsis

The best friends you'll ever have!Kristy, Mary-Anne, Claudia and Stacey share their adventures in this awesome, eight-book collection! Relive the stories with all their original cover artwork.Boxed Set Includes:#1: Kristy's Great Idea #2: Claudia and the Phantom Phone Calls #3: The Truth About Stacey #4: Mary Anne Saves the Day #5: Dawn and the Impossible Three #6: Kristy's Big Day #7: Claudia and Mean Janine #8: Boy-Crazy Stacey

Publisher details

Five on a Treasure Island (The Famous Five #1)
Author
Enid Blyton
Publisher
Hachette
Genres
Children’s Fiction, Classics
Released
11 September, 1942

Synopsis

The very first Famous Five adventure, featuring Julian, Dick, Anne, not forgetting tomboy George and her beloved dog, Timmy! There's a shipwreck off Kirrin Island! But where is the treasure The Famous Five are on the trail - looking for clues - but they're not alone! Someone else has got the same idea. Time is running out for the Famous Five, who will follow the clues and get to the treasure first.These classic editions feature Enid Blyton's unchanged text and Eileen A. Soper's original illustrations.#30 in Australia’s 50 Favourite Kids’ Books poll, 2014

Synopsis

When a letter arrives for unhappy but ordinary Harry Potter, a decade-old secret is revealed to him that apparently he's the last to know. His parents were wizards, killed by a Dark Lord's curse when Harry was just a baby, and which he somehow survived. Leaving his unsympathetic aunt and uncle for Hogwarts, a wizarding school brimming with ghosts and enchantments, Harry stumbles upon a sinister mystery when he finds a three-headed dog guarding a room on the third floor. Then he hears of a missing stone with astonishing powers which could be valuable, dangerous - or both. An incredible adventure is about to begin!'I've yet to meet a ten-year-old who hasn't been entranced by its witty, complex plot and the character of the eponymous Harry.' - Independent'Spellbinding, enchanting, bewitching stuff.' - Mirror'Teachers say a chapter can silence the most rowdy of classes.' - Guardian'One of the greatest literary adventures of modern times.' - Sunday Telegraph#1 in the Top 50 Kids' Books 2019 - Older Readers
Ann M Martin
About the author

Ann M Martin

Ann Matthews Martin was born on August 12, 1955. She grew up in Princeton, New Jersey, with her parents and her younger sister, Jane. After graduating from Smith College, Ann became a teacher and then an editor of children's books. She's now a full-time writer.Ann gets the ideas for her books from many different places. Some are based on personal experiences, while others are based on childhood memories and feelings. Many are written about contemporary problems or events. All of Ann's characters, even the members of the Baby-sitters Club, are made up. But many of her characters are based on real people. Sometimes Ann names her characters after people she knows, and other times she simply chooses names that she likes.Ann has always enjoyed writing. Even before she was old enough to write, she would dictate stories to her mother to write down for her. Some of her favorite authors at that time were Lewis Carroll, P. L. Travers, Hugh Lofting, Astrid Lindgren, and Roald Dahl. They inspired her to become a writer herself.Since ending the BSC series in 2000, Ann’s writing has concentrated on single novels, many of which are set in the 1960s.After living in New York City for many years, Ann moved to the Hudson Valley in upstate New York where she now lives with her cats, Gussie, Pippin, and Simon. Her hobbies are reading, sewing, and needlework. Her favorite thing to do is to make clothes for children.

Books by Ann M Martin

Felice Arena
About the author

Felice Arena

Felice Arena is one of Australia's best-loved children's writers. He is the author and creator of many popular and award-winning children's books for all ages, including Whippersnapper, the bestselling Specky Magee books and the popular Andy Roid series. For more information about Felice and his books visit his website at: felicearena.com

Books by Felice Arena

J.K. Rowling
About the author

J.K. Rowling

J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter novels have been prize-winning and consistently on the bestseller lists, and have now sold over 325 million copies worldwide in 64 languages.J.K. (Joanne Kathleen) Rowling was born in Chipping Sodbury General Hospital in the UK in 1965. Such a funny-sounding name for a hospital may have contributed to her talent for collecting odd names.Jo moved house twice when she was growing up. The first move was from Yate (just outside Bristol in the south west of England) to Winterbourne (on the other side of Bristol). Jo, her sister and friends used to play together in her street in Winterbourne. Two of her friends were a brother and sister whose surname just happened to be Potter! The second move was when Jo was nine and she moved to Tutshill near Chepstow in the Forest of Dean. Jo loved living in the countryside and spent most of her time wandering across fields and along the river Wye with her sister. For Jo, the worst thing about her new home was her new school.Tutshill Primary School was a very small and very old-fashioned place. The roll-top desks in the classrooms still had the old ink wells. Jo's teacher, Mrs Morgan, terrified her. On the first day of school, she gave Jo an arithmetic test, which she failed, scoring zero out of ten. It wasn't that Jo was stupid - she had never done fractions before. So Jo was seated in the row of desks far to the right of Mrs Morgan. Jo soon realised that Mrs Morgan seated her pupils according to how clever she thought they were: the brightest sat to her left, and those she thought were dim were seated to her right. Jo was in the 'stupid' row, as far right as you could possibly get without sitting in the playground.From Tutshill Primary, Jo went to Wyedean Comprehensive. She was quiet, freckly, short-sighted and not very good at sports. She even broke her arm playing netball. Her favourite subject by far was English, but she also liked languages.Jo always loved writing more than anything. 'The first story that I ever wrote down, when I was five or six, was about a rabbit called Rabbit. He got the measles and was visited by his friends, including a giant bee called Miss Bee. And ever since Rabbit and Miss Bee, I have wanted to be a writer, though I rarely told anyone so. I was afraid they'd tell me I didn't have a hope.'At school, Jo would entertain her friends at lunchtime with stories. 'I used to tell my equally quiet and studious friends long serial stories at lunchtimes.' In these stories, Jo and her friends would be heroic and daring.As she got older, Jo kept writing but she never showed what she had written to anyone, except for some of her funny stories that featured her friends as heroines.After school, Jo attended the University of Exeter in Devon where she studied French. Her parents hoped that by studying languages, she would enjoy a great career as a bilingual secretary. But as Jo recalls, 'I am one of the most disorganised people in the world and, as I later proved, the worst secretary ever.' She claims that she never paid much attention in meetings because she was too busy scribbling down ideas. 'This is a problem when you are supposed to be taking the minutes of the meeting,' she says.When she was 25, Jo went to Portugal to teach English, which she really enjoyed. Because she worked afternoons and evenings, she had mornings free to write. It was in Portugal that Jo started her third novel ('I abandoned the first two novels when I realised how bad they were'). This new novel was about a boy who was a wizard.When she returned to the UK, Jo had a suitcase full of stories about Harry Potter. She worked as a French teacher and also at the same time set herself a target: she would finish the 'Harry' novel and get it published. In 1996, one year after finishing the book, Bloomsbury bought Jo's first novel, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.'The moment I found out that Harry would be published was one of the best of my life,' says Jo. A few months after 'Harry' was accepted for publication in Britain, an American publisher bought the rights for enough money to enable Jo to give up teaching and write full time - her life's ambition!Writing the Harry Potter books The idea for the Harry books came to Jo while on a train. Jo has said that she didn't really focus on magic, rather that 'it chose her... The starting point for Harry's world is "what if it WAS real?"'Jo has said that she doesn't really think anyone or anything directly influenced the Harry Potter books, except perhaps Elizabeth Goudge's The Little White Horse, 'which was my favourite book when I was about eight, and which is also a blend of magic with the workaday.'Jo has a 'basic plot outline for every Harry Potter book, but I like to leave some things to be decided while I write. It's more fun.' She writes nearly every day, sometimes for 10 or 11 hours, sometimes for three hours. She says that it depends on 'how fast the ideas are coming.'The Harry Potter novels must be read very carefully because what may be a small event in the first book may become very important in a later adventure. Despite the fact that she claims to be really disorganised, Jo plans the Harry Potter books in detail. She knows the plot of every book and has them all written down and stored in a secret diary somewhere very safe. She won't discuss these plots with anybody so don't try asking her!She doesn't have a floorplan of Hogwarts - because it would be very difficult to draw as the staircases and rooms keep moving, but Jo knows exactly what the castle looks like. She came up with the names of the Hogwarts' houses on the back of an aeroplane sick bag, which she still has - empty of course! She keeps a record of bizarre names in her notebook and chooses the name she thinks best fits a new character. Some of the monsters in the Harry Potter books are imaginary and others are from legend, so you will have to do some research to find out which is which!Writers often use real people as inspiration for their work and Jo is no exception. Some of the characters in Harry Potter are based on real people but most are made up. Gilderoy Lockhart is an exaggeration of someone Jo once knew. Ron Weasley is a lot like her oldest friend, Sean Harris, to whom she dedicated The Chamber of Secrets and Hermione is a bit like Jo when she was at school. She has also said that Harry is 'a bit like me in some ways and better than me in a lot of ways.'Jo plans to write one novel for every year that Harry is at Hogwarts, so there will be seven books in total. Since there isn't a University for Wizards, there won't be a book about Harry going to university. There will, however, be lots of new creatures and lots of exciting adventures in the whole series, including the reason why some witches and wizards become ghosts when they die; what Harry's parents did before they were killed by You-Know-Who; and a reappearance from Scabbers the rat!Jo has been writing for most of her life. 'I couldn't think of a better way to make a living and truthfully, I think it is the only thing I am good at.' Writing can be a lot of fun, but it can also be a lot of hard work, but don't let that put you off! Jo's advice to aspiring young writers is 'to read as much as you can, like I did. It will give you an understanding of what makes good writing and it will enlarge your vocabulary. Start by writing about things you know about, your own experiences and feelings. That's what I do.'

Books by J.K. Rowling

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