The best natural worlds in fiction

Published on: 04 May 2017 Author: Robbie Hunt

Chloe Daykin, the author of Fish Boy, a dizzyingly brilliant story about fish, family and David Attenborough, tells us about her favourite books that feature the wonders of nature.

Skellig by David Almond

I love the birds, feathers and bones. The way Michael and Mina watch over Skellig and the birds in the nest in the garden. So full of love and tenderness and magic, it's such a beautiful book. It makes your insides lift.

Journey to The River Sea by Eva Ibbotson

This is such a gorgeous journey that I loved getting swept up in. It's the best way to visit the Amazon without actually going there, and the quirky details are fantastic - check out Mr. Carter's glass eye collection and the hidden lagoon where Finn and Maia light up the fire box in the Arabella!

The Summer Book by Tove Janson

This isn't meant to be a children's book but it's just so brilliant I think everyone should read it! I read it with my boys and we all agreed that it's hilarious. And so beautiful! Read 'The Neighbour' chapter where Sophia and her Grandmother break into the neighbours' house and hide under a bush and you'll see what I mean. All the chapters are short stories, so you can read them in any order if you want.

Scaredy Squirrel by Melanie Watt

This book's a timeless bit of loveliness about how scary the world is and that we should, wherever possible, leap out of our metaphorical trees into the unknown for a while. Or at least once a week.

Wolf Brother by Michelle Paver

Opening this book is like climbing into the ancient forest, with auroch and wolverines and clans. It totally transported me and I love the way nature is given respect and balance, how Tourak makes and grows food and tools, and hunts. Wolf is one of my all-time favourite characters.

Northern Lights by Philip Pullman

A mind-expandingly epic adventure that creates its own astonishing world and moves beautifully across it on boats, in the air and over ice, mountains and snow. I love Iorek Byrnison (the panserbjorne/ice bear), the gyptians and the animal daemons. Nothing not to love about this: it's addictive!

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness, illustrated by Jim Kay

I can't read this book without crying no matter where I am, or how public a place I find myself in! I love the power, rage and might of the tree. And the fact that it is a tree is enormously satisfying. Jim Kay's soulful illustrations make this a face-slapplingly beautiful book and story.

The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge

A fantastic trip into a misty Victorian island of secrets, lies, rocks, cliffs, rats, rowing boats and a spectacular plant. This is a book about the study of nature - trying to pin it in a glass case - versus raw and wild nature, clawing its way in at the edges. Ethereal, political and wonderful.

Kensuke's Kingdom by Michael Morpurgo

I'm always so surprised how small this book is and how enormous the world is that it creates in my mind. A tropical island, a mysterious and wonderful man, fab gibbon families, giant jellyfish, red bananas, waterfalls and night howling. It makes me happy every time I think about it. It's a joy.

Topics: Nature, Features

Read our review of Chloe Daykin's book

Fish Boy

Author: Chloe Daykin

Billy is an odd boy: he's quiet, different from other children, and his skin's always wrinkled from swimming in the sea. At heart, this is a story about friendship in the face of adversity, and Chloe Daykin's writing is clear, poetic and grips you from the start.

Read more about Fish Boy

Our nature non-fiction booklist

Reads perfect for young inquisitive minds

From flora- and fauna-themed early learning books to fun studies of species and habitats.