Tuesday 14 April 2015

Top 10 Tuesday: Inspiring quotes from Middle Grade Books

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.

Today, ten of our fabulous Middle Grade Strikes Back contributors have each chosen their favourite inspiring quote from a middle grade book:

1. Paula Harrison: from Cosmic by Frank Cottrell-Boyce

"It might look like a coincidence that Dad rang me just as the phones came on. But it wasn't. He'd been trying for days and days. He got through the moment they came back on because he'd been trying all the time - that's what dads do. I had to look out for the children, like Dad looked out for me and his dad had for him, right back through time. Dadliness was out there among the stars, a force like gravity; and I was part of it."

Hmm my quote's a bit long. But I love the fact that the main character has this moment of clarity looking back at Earth from a space rocket. and I love the depiction of his relationship with his dad. 


2. Andy Shepherd: from A Monster Calls – Patrick Ness         

"'You do not write your life with words, the monster said. You write it with actions. What you think is not important. It is only important what you do.'"

This book makes me cry, every time I come back to it, because it goes right to the heart of something I found so hard growing up. The fact that you can think so many different and conflicting things at once. The fact that those thoughts feel like the truth, every single one of them. And how can that be? And what does it say about you, if you think those thoughts?

I wish I’d had A Monster Calls when I was young – because then I might have learned sooner that negative thoughts and emotions are simply part of our experience. That the mean, scary, horrible thought I’d just had was ‘only a thought, one of a million.’  And that the answer to the question ‘So what do I do?’ is:

You speak the truth.

- however complicated that might be!


3. Abi Elphinstone: from The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers by J.R.R Tolkien

"Frodo: I can't do this, Sam. 
Sam: I know. It's all wrong. By rights we shouldn't even be here. But we are. It's like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn't want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it's only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn't. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something. 
Frodo: What are we holding onto, Sam? 
Sam: That there's some good in this world, Mr. Frodo... and it's worth fighting for."

My little brother, Tom, is travelling the world at the moment and he couldn't be there for the launch of my debut. And so instead, he wrote me a letter with this conversation in it, telling me to be brave no matter how scary it might feel to have my first book tiptoe out into the world. It was the loveliest letter I have ever been sent. There is something so powerful and moving in both Sam and Frodo's friendship, and in their courage. 


4. Cecilia Busby: from Danny Champion of the World by Roald Dahl

"A real mouth smile always has an eye-smile to go with it, so watch out, I say, when someone smiles at you with his mouth but the eyes stay the same. It's sure to be bogus."

As a child, I loved Danny's father, with his twinkling eye-smiles and his mad adventures - and his deep dark secret, that really he's a poacher... The bit where Danny has to drive their car to rescue his father from the woods in the dead of night was one of the most heart-stoppingly exciting things I'd ever read. And I think this quote, about looking out for fake smiles, is an excellent bit of advice!


5. Jim Dean: from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by JK Rowling

"'It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.'"

It's hard to pick a favourite quote from a series as brilliant as Harry Potter, but I think the pep talk Dumbledore gives to Harry after he's doubting whether he should really be in Gryffindor or if, with his ability to speak Parseltongue, the Sorting Hat was right to consider Slytherin for him, is wonderful. This is the key sentence and it's something I'd love ALL children and teens to remember.



6. Sophie Cleverly: from A Hat Full of Sky by Terry Pratchett

Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.” 

This book is a veritable treasure trove of quotes, but the above is one that is most frequently shared, and rightly so. It's true of holidays, adventures, moving away... but it's also true of reading. Once you've read this book, you will see the world differently.  It teaches you, moves you, changes the way you think. Take that step out into the world, or into a book, and broaden your horizons. “There isn't a way things should be. There's just what happens, and what we do.” 


7. Peter Jay Black: from Peter Pan by JM Barrie

The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease for ever to be able to do it.”

Everyone knows the tale of Peter Pan and this quote not only sums up the whole premise of the story, but of childhood too - imagination and belief. It's often said we lose that when we grow up, but I'm not so sure we do (authors definitely don't!). The reason people read is to escape to fantasy worlds, to be transported, to imagine, to believe. . ."The reason birds can fly and we can't is simply that they have perfect faith, for to have faith is to have wings."


8. Clare Zinkin: from Pollyanna by Eleanor H Porter

"What men and women need is encouragement. Their natural resisting powers should be strengthened, not weakened...Instead of always harping on a man's faults, tell him of his virtues."

An old-fashioned classic, but one which remains inspirational. I'll never forget the prisms of light that Pollyanna hung in her window - the visual has stayed with me from childhood. Above all, this is a book that teaches how to triumph in the face of adversity, that goodness shines through and that one person can make a difference. It pointed out many truths before self-help books came along and tried to say the same things! 


9. Rachel Hamilton: from Northern Lights by Philip Pullman

"The idea hovered and shimmered delicately, like a soap bubble, and she dared not even look at it directly in case it burst. But she was familiar with the way of ideas, and she let it shimmer, looking away, thinking about something else"

There are so many wonderful lines to choose from when it comes to Philip Pullman's writing, but this is my favourite. It's such a perfect description of how ideas float in the air waiting to be coaxed on to the page, or canvas, by those with skill and patience, but ready to pop in an instant if grabbed at too greedily.

Twitter: @RachelLHamilton

10. Harry Oulton: from The House at Pooh Corner by AA Milne

"He's out," said Pooh sadly. "That's what it is. He's not in. I shall have to go a fast  Thinking Walk by myself. Bother!"

Fantastic not very clever hero. Loyalty, and simplicity as the most valuable characteristics ever. And how fantastic that Winnie the Pooh (a 'bear of little brain') is Disney's most valuable character, and probably the most successful children's literary character ever.


Twitter @HarryOulton1


  1. I really like the quote on Northern Lights! <3

    Top Ten Tuesday

  2. That Northern Lights quote is very lovely! Ahh Pooh, I wouldn't be able to stop with one. Harry Potter quotes were hard to narrow done too. but I enjoy the ones you picked.
    My TTT http://logcabinlibrary.blogspot.com/2015/04/ttt-top-ten-inspiring-quotes-from.html

  3. Hi Christine and Brenda. So glad you like the Northern Lights quote. It's magical, isn't it? I love this post and if it's not a regular thing it should be (Hello, Darren :))

  4. So many awesome quotes in one post! I absolutely love the HP one, that's always been one of my favourites. Thanks for sharing :) Here's my TTT.

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