I plan to continue adding titles to the Books for Kids page on this site, and when I do, I’ll flag them here as well.
I read a few Joan Aiken books as a child, most notably The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, but my interest never condensed into outright fandom. The hugely talented writer Kelly Link has recently revived my interest in Aiken. Kelly, with her husband, Gavin Grant, runs Small Beer Press, a publisher of many terrific titles, including collections of Kelly’s own short stories. They just put out The Serial Garden: The Complete Armitage Family Stories, which brings together all 24 of the stories Aiken wrote about the Armitages over the course of her life.
The Armitages (Mark, Harriet and their parents) live in a seemingly ordinary English village, but are in fact frequently visited by magical events, particularly on Mondays. Herds of unicorns turn up in the garden, the next door neighbor offers lessons in witchcraft and Mark gets enlisted in an aerial dogfight with a dragon on the way home from the dentist’s office. Throughout, their parents remain unflappable, if occasionally testy, in the very best British style.
If you have kids you like to read aloud to, or know someone who does, I can’t recommend this book more highly as a holiday gift.