Cornwall has long sparked creative imaginations, attracting artists, filmmakers and writers inspired by the region’s landscape and unique character. For children and the young at heart there’s also a great library of children’s literature to discover long before, during or after your holiday’s over.
Five Go Down to the Sea by Enid Blyton
The famous Julian, Dick, Anne, George and Timmy the dog visit a farm on the Cornish coast and encounter a group of travelling entertainers and oddly spoken locals. The reappearance of a light used by dastardly wreckers to lure ships onto the rocks sees the Famous Five investigate a very Cornish mystery.
Dead Man’s Cove by Lauren St John
The first of the Laura Marlin Mysteries, a series of detective adventures, has been described as Nancy Drew meets the Famous Five. Laura moves to St. Ives to live with her mysterious uncle, but she soon finds that Cornwall is a land of mysteries. A winner of the Blue Peter award, this is a good choice for preteens.
Adventure Island by Helen Moss
Part of another Blytonesque mystery series, this book takes place on the fictional Cornish island of Castle Key. Brothers Scott and Jack, their friend Emily and her loveable dog, Drift explore caves, secret passages and solve baffling crimes along the way. If you’re new to the series, you might want to start with book 01: The Mystery of the Whistling Caves.
The Mousehole Cat by Antonia Barber
One Christmas, the seaside village of Mousehole finds itself pounded by terrible storms, making it impossible to fish. Tom Bawcock braves the terrible seas but it’s his clever cat Mowzer who brings in the catch and saves the people of Mousehole from starvation. This enduring picture book, first published in 1990, and beautifully illustrated by Nicola Bayley, was inspired by a local legend.
Emily Windsnap and the Castle in the Mist by Liz Kessler
Book three in this best selling series about Emily Windsnap, a girl who discovers she is half mermaid, sees our heroine wash up on the shores of an island cut off by the tides. The story was inspired by a visit to the castle at St Michael’s Mount – the author says she loved it here so much she moved to St Ives.
Under Sea, Under Stone and Greenwitch by Susan Cooper
The much loved fantasy sequence, The Dark is Rising, is made up of five books, the first and third of which are set in Cornwall. The first, Under Sea, Under Stone, features a quest for a grail and a seriously spooky local ceremony based around an offering to the sea. Should appeal to fans of Philip Pullman.
The Mermaid of Zennor by Charles Causley
The traditional folk tale about a villager who captures the heart of a beautiful mermaid is retold here as a picture book. The Mermaid of Zennor is full of fascinating local history, brought to life by the luminous art of award winning illustrator Michael Foreman.
The Ingo Chronicles by Helen Dumore
This five part series is also based on the Cornish legend of the Zenor mermaid, and follows a local girl into the kingdom of Ingo, home to an enigmatic Merman. It was written by Helen Dunmore, author of adult books including Zennor in Darkness, a novel about D.H. Lawrence’s life in the village during the First World War.
Why the Whales Came by Michael Morpurgo
The author of War Horse (who once lived in D.H. Lawrence’s old cottage in Zennor) has created many children’s books based in Cornwall. Why the Whales Came is a gripping historical adventure set on the Isles of Scilly during the First World War.
The Skylarks’ War by Hilary McKay
Winner of the Costa Children’s Book award, The Skylarks’ War is a stunning family saga that unfolds during idyllic summer holidays in Cornwall. But the coming of the First World War sees lives upended and relationships tested to breaking point.
Deep Water by Lu Hersey
In this modern retelling of the Selkie myth, a young girl moves to a Cornish fishing village after her mum disappears. But it isn’t quite the new start she was hoping for as the locals treat her like a monster – and perhaps she is.