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Is there a book from your childhood that really sticks out in your mind? And, is there a book that you now read with your own children that has completely grabbed their imagination?


Russell and Oona Pinch live in London with their two daughters, Ada, aged two and Floris, aged six months.

A husband and wife team, they run the award-winning furniture, product and interior design company, PINCH. Russell also designs for other retailers and brands including SCP, Ercol, Conran and JME, Jamie Oliver’s home-ware range.

For Russell Pinch, there remains one firm favourite: “My favourite book would have to be Danny the Champion of the World, by Roald Dahl, because Danny was everything I dreamed of being and his life was everything I wanted – living in a caravan, masterminding plots with his dad, embarking on escapades to catch pheasants out in the woods. It’s a little tragic that I now live in London!”

Oona’s childhood choice just had to be The Secret Seven books, by Enid Blyton: “because it’s about a mixed gang of boys and girls and I just really wanted to hang out with them. I envied them that they did so much and had adventures without their parents knowing!”

And, what about now? “I really love reading Up in the Tree, by Margaret Atwood, with Ada. It’s an absolutely beautiful book, with amazing drawings,” says Russell. First published in the 1970’s, Margaret Atwood not only wrote and illustrated the book, she also hand-lettered the type. Using only two colours, there is a surprisingly large range of tones and textures that accompany one long, playful poem about two saucer-eyed boys who live in a tree, away from more mundane earthly concerns.

“I really enjoy reading The Snail and The Whale, by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler,” adds Oona. Telling the story of the adventures of a tiny snail who hitches a lift on the tail of a whale in order to see the world it is “a gorgeous, brilliant book!”

But what about Ada? Her parents laugh: “At the age of two she has strong opinions on the subject. It’s Charlie and Lola… or nothing…”


Euan Rellie has two sons, Heathcliff and Titus, aged six and two.

Joint founder and Senior Managing Director of investment banking firm BDA Business Development Asia, he lives in New York with his wife Lucy Sykes Rellie, a former fashion director at Marie Claire.

Euan Rellie has recently been revisiting some of the old books he read when he was younger: “I’ve been drawn back to re-reading the likes of Doctor Dolittle, The Wind in the Willows and Watership Down, even though the last one is so sad.

One book, in particular, that I remember my dad reading to me all the time was A.A. Milne’s Now We Are Six.” First published in 1927, the book consists of 35 children’s poems with simple yet fantastic pen and ink drawings by E.H. Shepard. With lines from the King like: “I do like a little bit of butter to my bread,” for his Royal slice of bread and “James James Morrison Morrison Wetherby George Dupree,” who “took great care of his mother though he was only three,” the poems have remained in our collective memory whilst others have come and gone. Perhaps this is more due to their dancing rhythm and onomatopoeic rhymes than their depiction of an era long gone.

“The language is incredibly dated and arcane,” notes Euan, “but it is so beautifully written that this doesn’t matter. I am reading it now with my six year-old, Heathcliff and two year-old, Titus. Although there are some things that Heathcliff will ask me about, they both absolutely love the cadence and the sense of it along with the imagery the poems evoke.”

Look out for the Return to the Hundred Acre Wood, the first official sequel written by David Benedictus.


Although born in Salisbury, Wiltshire and educated at Cambridge and Stanford, the author Edward Rutherfurd has spent much of the last 30 years living in New York and Connecticut. He has a son and daughter, both educated in the US and now grown up.

“I was a very ordinary little boy. When I was four, my teacher told me I was backward. So I could relate to Thomas the Tank Engine, the little fellow – hopeful, inexperienced, wanting to succeed – whom Sir Topham Hatt could never entrust with the big tasks, like pulling the Express, yet who still made himself useful. Thomas might be humble, but he still came to the rescue when other engines – Henry, James, even mighty Gordon – got in trouble. Thomas was valued and loved.

As for the railway itself, it had all the magic of steam – the gleaming brass, the shining metal, the power of pressure and puff – that railway buffs love today.

So it was a great joy to me to find that my American children, a boy and a girl, loved the mechanical yet fragile world of Thomas as much as I had. In their generation and country, however, there came an added bonus. For to my children, Thomas the Tank Engine also meant Ringo Starr as narrator and Mr Conductor too. So from there it was an easy step to introduce them to The Beatles – music with lyrics! – whom they also loved, and who proved a welcome relief on many a long car journey.”

Edward Rutherford is a bestselling author of historical fiction, which draws on minutely researched social history. In the wake of huge success with a number of historical novels including Sarum and London, his latest book, New York, tells the 400 year story of a city that has often played centre stage in world history. Remaining as exciting as ever New York is, in his words, “a magnificent gift to the storyteller.”

His biography of the city is told through larger-than-life fictional and true characters “whose fates interweave in the rise and fall and rise again of the city’s fortunes.”

Published by Century