Books that have inspired us

Jay Hirons

Reading influences lives, well it did mine: Jay Hirons

Swallows and Amazon By Arthur Ransome

Swallows and Amazons is the first novel in Arthur Ransome’s classic series of novels originally published in 1930: for children, for grownups, pirates, landlubbers and ‘duffers’; for anyone really who is captivated by the world of adventure and imagination.

Swallows and Amazons introduces the lovable Walker children, who persuade their father that they are perfectly fine and responsible to camp on Wild Cat island, using their sailing dinghy Swallow, to reach their destination. The peace of the Walker’s island is soon shattered by the arrival of two sisters; the infamous intrepid pirate sisters, Nancy and Peggy, who have a ‘ship’ of their own, the Amazon and they have a prior claim to the island; these two feisty sisters take on the gentile family and war is declared.

So begins a wonderful adventure filled 12 novel series, which are classics but should still inspire our modern day adventurers.

Reading can inspire anyone, if you are not inspired by what you are reading you just haven’t found the right book yet!

Judith Martinez

the-little-princeJulie Staley

The Wind in the Willows

I love this story as it reminds me of my childhood. Whenever I think of this book I remember sitting in my bedroom reading and feeling happy and contented.

It reminds me of spring, home and friendship.

The story is set in an innocent bygone age and has everything to please children and readers alike.

It is a thrilling adventure, with moments of terror, such as when Mole is lost in the Wild Wood, or when Toad is sentenced to 20 years in prison. However, at the same time, the story is also very reassuring. Perhaps this is because the home seems to form a permanent backdrop to all the adventures.

The story begins with Mole spring-cleaning, and proceeds through many scenes in front of raging fires in snug burrows, and ends with the regaining of Toad’s ancestral pile. Also reassuring is the feeling which runs through the book that friends will always be there to help you, to put you right and to get you out of trouble.

The animal characters – all male – have clear human traits. Mole is timorous and unworldly, yet he is brave enough to be determined to face up to his fears and not let them get the better of him. Rat is a strong and self-confident character, and the perfect friend for a shy, retiring Mole – or child. He is also very loyal and concerned for his friend, Mr Toad. Badger is an even stronger character than Rat, but he also has the aloofness of an adult.

All children need adults to guide them at some point, and Badger fulfils this role perfectly – he gives the others food and shelter, he shows them the safest way through the Wild Wood, he knows how to deal with Toad, and he is able to make a plan to get Toad Hall back from the weasels. The child-like character of Toad provides the comic relief in the story. He is by turns pompous and boastful, then contrite and ashamed. He seems never to realise what the consequences of his actions will be until it is too late. Despite all his faults he is very endearing and he never loses his friends, and it is his friends who come to his rescue in the end. The weasels are, of course, pure evil, and have no saving graces. But they get what they deserve at the end of the story when good triumphs – as it does in all the best children’s stories.

The ending provides a very positive conclusion and serves as a lesson to us all when the naughty, boastful, selfish and child-like Toad realises the error of his ways and promises his friends that he is now a changed animal.

Maribel Cerezo


Nowadays, I open the book, only feeling the pages on my fingers, my mind can travel 25 years ago. I can remember the smell of the book when it was new. It was a Christmas present, and since then, it is my favourite book.

I did not know anything about Mrs Potter, Peter Rabbit, and all their friends. I was really young the first time that I read the book, but reading the different stories and watching the picture, all of them became my new childhood friends.

Mrs Potter stories are unique; they are magic, I still believe that all of the characters can exist truly. Funny different stories about animals from field, those take place in the British society of the time.

My favourite story is The Tailor of Gloucester, a story about a tailor, whose work on a waistcoat is finished by the grateful mice, which he rescues from his cat. The story was based on a real world incident involving a tailor and his assistants.

Caroline Marechal