If you’re spending your lockdown time catching up on some family reading, then we have six Cornish inspired fantasy books for kids (and adults…), to keep your sense of adventure alight!
We’re pretty sure there are enough books based on and inspired by Cornwall to fill a library big enough to rival that of Beauty and The Beast, and if you’re looking for some new, or forgotten gem reads in the realms of Cornish books for children then we’ve compiled a list of our favourites…
1. The Sand Horse by Ann Turnbull (Illustrated by Michael Foreman)
Set in St Ives, a sand sculptor spends a windy day crafting a horse sculpture on the local harbour beach. Whilst everyone admires the beautiful creation, once the day is over the Sand Horse hears the call of the white horses at sea and longs to join them. This is a perfect book for very young readers.
2. Ingo by Helen Dunmore
Dunmore takes Cornwall’s myths and legends of mermaids and life under the sea and turns it into a spellbinding tale of mystery and magic, when Sapphire and her brother Connor discover discover INGO, a truly enchanting world underwater. The first of a trilogy, this is definitely one that’ll spark the imagination and perfect for readers over the age of 12.
3. The Sleeping Sword by Michael Morpurgo
It’s no secret that Michael Morpurgo is something of a legend when it comes to children’s and young adult fiction. With roughly one hundred novels, picture books, short stories and chapter books alongside feature length films and dozens of awards, we were spoilt for choice when it came to selecting just one of his works, yet The Sleeping Sword holds something of a personal hold on our hearts.
Based in the Isles of Scilly, when an accident leads to Ben Bundle becoming blind, he feels as if he is drowning, yet when he discovers an ancient tomb and a legendary sword and shield, the story of King Arthur and the sleeping sword leads Ben down an exciting adventure. This could be suitable for readers over the age of 8 with help from an adult and ideal for solo readers over 12.
Other notable Morpurgo works we love and highly recommend are Kensuke’s Kingdom, The Butterfly Lion and The Wreck of the Zanzibar.
4. A Boy Called Ocean by Chris Higgins
This middle grade/young adult novel is one for the teens but also one for the adults too. The book follows the story of Kai, a local Cornish lad who is in love with his best friend Jen. Jealous of cool and talented Macca, an Australian surfer staying in the area, Kai steals his surfboard after an upsetting misunderstanding, only to find himself in serious danger at sea.
There’s a lot packed into this novel, with mysteries, different perspectives from each of the characters and some homage paid to the RNLI. It’s not exactly in the fantasy genre but it’s an intelligent read with a gentle dash of romance.
5. Wreckers by Julie Hearn
Told through the eyes of five teenagers (and a few other mysterious characters), Wreckers is a fantasy novel that can be hard to get a grip of, but it’s setting in an old manor on the Cornish coast and unique dystopian near-feature themes make it one of the more unusual Cornwall-themed reads that’s worth a mention. Captivating and full of eerie mystery, this enticing and often gothic book is perfect for young adults who like a bit of darkness and alternative themes.
6. Over Sea, Under Stone by Susan Cooper
A contemporary children’s fantasy novel, Cooper’s first book of ‘The Dark is Rising’ saga was written ten years before she started work on the sequels. Set on the South Coast of Cornwall, the Drew family are holidaying in the fictional village of Trewissick with their great uncle Merriman Lyon. Staying in an old house filled with exciting treasures, it isn’t long before the Drew children Simon, Jane, and Barney are discovering Arthurian legends, secret maps, grail quests, villainous rivals and a rolling tale of adventure and excitement. It’s a firm favourite in any list of great Cornish reads and its popularity saw Cooper create four sequels that bring the richness of Celtic and Arthurian mythology to life in stories that span generations.