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Children’s books based in Cornwall

November 14, 2014 No Comments

felix book blog-1

As adults we all know the joys of getting stuck into a good novel when we’re on holiday. One of our fondest holiday memories here at Cornish Holiday Cottages is getting lost in The Kite Runner whilst sitting on the floor of a cramped train in Italy. We also know how a story linked to the place you are staying can add to the atmosphere of a place. It can help you see your surroundings through the imagination of someone else, especially as a child. It is so easy to get lost in a story as a child and to be able to live parts of that story in real life can give you both a reason for reading and a reason visiting.


Another thing we know is how hard it can be to get children to read sometimes, so we’ve done our research, delved into our own childhoods and most importantly, asked our own children what their favourite Cornwall set books are. Here’s the list we’ve come up with.


The Mousehole Cat – Antonia Barber.


Reading The Mousehole Cat has almost become a rite of passage for Cornish children. One of my fondest memories of primary school involves being read this book by my teacher. Beautifully illustrated by Nicola Bayley, The Mousehole Cat tells the story of one brave – and in reality, very foolish – fisherman taking to the stormy seas with his loyal black and white cat, Mowzer to catch some fish. The sea is drawn as a ginormous storm-cat toying with the tiny mouse of a fishing boat. Mowzer purrs the ocean into submission and everyone celebrates their return by gobbling down Star-Gazey pie.

This book is most suited to joint reading with younger children and will set up a trip to Mousehole and Newlyn quite nicely.


Why the Whales Came – Michael Morpurgo


Most of Morpurgo’s novels are set in the South West to some degree. The former Children’s Laureate and War Horse writer has a knack for marrying the global effects of war to personal, small town stories and Why The Whales Came brings the first world war to Cornwall.

Gracie and her friend Daniel have always been warned to stay away from the Birdman and his side of the island. But then they find a message in the sand and discover the Birdman is not who they thought. They build up a lovely friendship with him, but when the children get stranded on Samson Island they don’t know whether to believe the birdman’s story that the island is cursed.


Dead Man’s Cove – Lauren St John


Given five stars by one eight-year-old reviewer on Amazon, Dead Man’s Cove has a twisty plot, quirky characters and a strong, young detective heroine in 11-year-old Laura Marlin.

This St Ives based story is fantastic for the 7-11 age group and is a great introduction to the mystery genre for children.


Ingo – Helen Dunmore


Ingo builds on the myth of the Mermaid of Zennor. Sapphy’s dad disappeared into the seas years ago and when her brother is missing after a quick swim, she discovers him talking to a mysterious girl in the water at a nearby cove. Does the same fate await him? Sapphy and her brother are drawn in to the world of the ingo (or mermaids).

Ingo is the first novel in a series and brings new life to old legends. It is unusual enough to interest fans of Harry Potter and will add an extra depth to your child’s trips to the beach.


Winter Damage – Natasha Carthew


Set in a near future suffering the effects of climate change, Carthew’s young adult novel is a dystopian antidote to the sometimes twee and romantic novels set in Cornwall. Living with her dad and brother on a frozen Cornish moor, Ennor knows things are taking a turn for the worse. In a bid to save her family, she packs blankets, a saucepan and a gun and sets off to find her mum and bring her home.

The book I’d most compare this to is Meg Rosoff’s How I live Now with its strong and robust central character. Winter Damage is a compelling and exciting read packed with suspense, humour and heartache.


Stormbreaker – Anthony Horowitz


Finally, here’s one just for the boys. Stormbreaker is the first book in the Alex Rider series and most of the action takes place here in Cornwall. Stormbreaker tells the story of a teenage spy whose first mission takes him into the the depths of Cornwall to take out multimillionaire Herod Sayle’s super ‘stormbreaker’ computers. Alex soon finds himself in mortal danger. Will his first mission also be his last?

In the mould of a James Bond thriller, Stormbreaker should interest even the most boyish of children on holiday.