Eight unforgettable children’s book characters
There are many children’s book characters that are part of our childhood memories. These characters inspired us to be brave (or naughty) and adventurous (or careful). Here are 8 of the most popular children’s book characters including Pippi Longstocking and Peter Rabbit.
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Number 1: Peter Pan
Sometimes we jealously think of Peter Pan and wonder why we had to become adults! Barrie’s most famous character first entered the literary world in 1904 and still makes us want to go to Neverland.
In the book, Peter Pan runs away from home when he is only a little boy because he never wants to grow up. The island of Neverland is not only Peter’s hideaway, but it is also inhabited by the lost boys, Native Americans, faeries, mermaids, lots of animals and, of course, by pirates! Peter can fly (amongst other things) and, whilst he is exploring his hometown London, stumbles across Wendy and her brothers.
Although Peter may appear to be quite a simple character that is blessed with an adventurous spirit, he is so much more than that. Despite of all his abilities and his seemingly never-ending bravery, Peter is also a lost boy that is craving for Wendy’s care and, ultimately, love!
Barrie’s bittersweet tale and Peter’s magic fairy dust still manage to take us away from our modern and fast-paced world, no matter how old we are.
Number 2: Matilda
If you haven’t read the book yet (you must, you are missing out) than I’m almost 100% certain that you have watched the 1996 film adaptation of Dahl’s second-most famous book (I suppose Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is his most famous one.)
We love Matilda because she is incredibly intelligent and because she is one of the biggest bookworms in the fictional world. Matilda LOVES books! One would expect her to be a little bit arrogant due to her wittiness and intelligence but no, not our Matilda. She is extremely modest and righteous! Matilda wants to help Miss Honey to get what is rightfully hers. Of course, at the humble age of six and a half, Matilda also develops telekinetic powers that grow stronger the more unjust people are.
Matilda is a little genius with superpowers! Plus, being a bookworm is also a appropriate reason for being on this list!
Number 3: Winnie-the-Pooh
Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh books are famous for a reason. Winnie-the-Pooh shows us that there is something positive to be found in every situation. He and his companions Piglet, Eeyore, Tigger…. and his human friend Christopher Robin have some fantastic adventures together. Winnie-the-Pooh loves his friends dearly and their happiness is also important to him. He would also do anything for a huge jar of honey! If you are a big fan of honey yourself, you should really give the books a go!
Winnie-the-Pooh might appear to be a bit silly from time to time. Yet, it is his (silly) wittiness and wisdom that always catches our attention (read the above quote as an example for Pooh’s wisdom). When I went to New York City last year, I couldn’t help it but go to the children’s section in the Public Library to see the original Winnie-the-Pooh and Co. toys with which the real Christopher Robin had played. If you are into A.A. Milne’s books and it happens that you are going to NYC, I can highly recommend a little trip to the Public Library.
Winnie-the-Pooh is a very lovable character that always reminds us to be good to our friends. I think that is reason enough to be on this list.
Number 4: Tracy Beaker
Tracy Beaker is undeniably one of the most popular children’s book characters in the UK. If you haven’t heard of her, you should go immediately to the bookshop and buy a copy of Jacqueline Wilson’s little masterpiece. The first Tracy Beaker Book ‘The story of Tracy Beaker’ was published in 1991.Is Tracy a typical 90s girl? Well, yes and no!
Tracy is feisty, determined and very emotional- for a reason! She lives in a children’s home and struggles to find her position in life. Her own family failed to look after her, which is why she ended up in a children’s home in the first place. Tracy is actually quite a naughty character. Apparently a lot of parents did allow their children to read the books or to watch the BBC TV Series. But I think her behaviour is often (90%)justifiable. Tracy Beaker has grown up now too and last year Wilson updated her fans about Tracy’s life with ‘My mum Tracy Beaker’.
Although I’m not justifying the naughtiness, I think that Tracy shows us that (sometimes) you have to fight back a little bit to find what is right for you.
Number 5: The Gruffalo
Nowadays, the Gruffalo picture book is considered to be a modern classic! The rhymes are short and the structures are repetitive- this makes this little book especially fun to read. Sheffler’s beautiful and unique illustrations perfect the flow of the story.
Why do I love the Gruffalo? He is such a lovable and yet terrifying character, especially to a three-year-old. The Gruffalo also looks funky: he has very orange eyes, a poisonous wart and odd purple prickles. Although a little witty mouse is the protagonist of the story, and we don’t know whether his tales are real or not, it is (of course) the monster that catches our attention. Turns out, the Gruffalo is real after all….Written by Julia Donaldson it was first published in 1999 and since then has been translated into around 50 different languages.
The Gruffalo monster is a simple but very effective personification of our imagination.The Gruffalo also reminds us of something else; imagination can become reality!
Number 6: Paddington Bear
Paddington Bear is definitely one of the most British characters in this list! ‘A bear called Paddington’ by Michael Bond was first published in 1958. Paddington arrives from darkest Peru in busy London. He is a refugee that starts a new life far away from home. At Paddington Station the Brown Family discovers Paddington (by the way, in Peru he is called Pastuso) and he moves into their home at 32 Windsor Gardens in Notting Hill.
Paddington is a very optimistic character that does not love honey but marmalade sandwiches and a nice cup of tea. If you ever go to London and you want to experience some aspects of Paddington’s day-to-day life, you should have a stroll around Portobello Market. It is a beautiful market and there are a few stalls that sell lovely illustrations of Paddington!
Number 7: Peter Rabbit
Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit is a truly timeless character. As so many of our favourite children’s book protagonists, Peter Rabbit is a little bit naughty from time to time. His naughtiness is the cause for many adventures. Peter Rabbit has three siblings called Flopsy, Mopsy and Cotton-tail and lives with his family underneath a fir-tree. Although Mrs. Rabbit warns her children not to go to Mr. McGregor’s garden, Peter can’t help it and ventures out to explore the forbidden area. For rabbits it is especially dangerous not to listen to their parent’s advice! After all, Peter’s dad lost his life in Mr. McGregor’s garden…. And, of course, Peter Rabbit suffers the consequences of his disobedience and gets chased by Mr. McGregor. In this sense, Peter shows children that (sometimes) parental advice should be followed.
Potter’s illustrations are so beautiful and mesmerising. In the Victoria and Albert Museum there is a small collection of Potter’s earliest illustrations. She was incredibly talented from a very young age!
Number 8: Pippi Longstocking
Did you know that Pippi’s full name is actually Pippilotta Delicatessa Windowshade Mackrelmint Ephraim’s Daughter Longstocking? Pippi lives in a big house called Villa Villekulla. Similarly to our hero Peter Pan, Pippi does not want to grow up. She is an extremely colourful (and spontaneous) character with an unstoppable imagination! Despite of being quite a lanky girl, Pippi is actually super strong (see the above illustration- Yes, she can lift a horse!). Sometimes Pippi may come across as almost overly confident (and her confidence is emphasised by her strength), but she also has a soft side. Pippi clearly misses her father, from whom she was separated in a storm. Friends are incredibly important to our Protagonist, which is why she has a pet monkey (Mr. Nillsson), a horse and two human friends called Annika and Tommy.
‘Pippi Longstocking’, written by Swedish writer Astrid Lindgren, was firstly published in 1945. To this day Pippi continuous to fascinate children around the world and that is not only because of her strength! She has a ‘can-do’ attitude that is simply inspiring!