Our new TreeTops Greatest Stories series has just published! Each of the 35 titles is beautifully retold and illustrated by some of our most popular authors and illustrators. We’re also fortunate to have best-selling author Michael Morpurgo as Series Editor and Kimberley Reynolds, Professor of Children’s Literature at Newcastle University, as Series Advisor.
Over the next few weeks, our TreeTops Greatest Stories authors will reveal the inspiration behind the stories they have retold and share insights into the writers and illustrators who have influenced their own lives.
Around the World in 80 Days, Level 15, by Rob Alcraft, illustrated by Alex Paterson
I love any story with a cool-headed hero and an elephant in it, and even better one with a mysterious robbery, an impossible journey, and a doomed princess too. Around the World in 80 Days has all of this, and more besides. It’s that best of all things in a children’s book, a proper adventure story, packed with trials, disaster and villainy – all with an unexpected twist and a happy ending.
I think children will love the romance and thrill of Phileas Fogg’s exotic, crazy journey. Like the young servant Passepartout, a child can be swept up in the delight of the adventure – fending off bandits, setting fire to ships and generally doing all the things you don’t really get to do much of at school.
Jules Vernes’ Around the World in 80 Days carries an important message too. Phileas Fogg and young Passepartout set out to win a bet, but find instead that what really matters is not the bet at all, but rather the friendship and love they have found along the way.
The books I liked most of all as a child were Where the Wild Things Are, then Swallows and Amazons, and Three Men in a Boat – funnily enough all watery adventures! I also loved anything about aeroplanes, explorers and WW1 pilots.
My own first experiences of Jules Vernes’ work were seeing the fantastic 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea in a 1970s cinema, and then being confined to the school library with a copy of Journey to the Centre of the Earth. That was the moment when I discovered that with a good book you are free to go absolutely anywhere.
TreeTops Greatest Stories is a timeless collection to capture our literary heritage. Find out more about Greatest Stories and watch Michael Morpurgo being interviewed and reading extracts on the TreeTops website.