London may be ground zero for literary lovers, but it’s also a scrumdiddlyumptious setting for some classic children’s books
From boy wizards and Peruvian bears to magical nannies and big friendly giants, London is a veritable playground of book-bound heroes. So why not open your umbrella and fly off around town on your own London literary tour. Kids can re-enact popular scenes, pick out a new stack of books at one of London’s many independent bookstores, and feed their imagination as they visit some of the city’s classic literary locations.
World famous wizarding prodigy, Harry Potter started his journey to Hogwarts from London’s Kings Cross station. At Platform 9 ¾, young wizards run headfirst into a wall in order to access the Hogwarts Express. Muggles, however, should leave the stunts to those more magically inclined – no one wants a trip back to the hotel in an ambulance. If half a trolley embedded into a station wall doesn’t quite hit the spot, then there is the full Harry Potter experience at the Warner Brothers Studios – grown-ups might well need a strong “butterbeer” to get them through…
It’s a rare child who would pass up the opportunity to fly with the Lost Boys. For fans of “The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up”, there is a less than inspiring statue to visit in Kensington Gardens (where JM Barrie set the sequel “Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens”), but wander just through the park and you’ll find the Peter Pan Playground, complete with a Jolly Roger boat for young pirate bashers to clamber over and live out their Neverland fantasies. Unfortunately, not all the landmarks on your London literary tour will be quite so interactive.
Roald Dahl’s The BFG sees the so-called giant meet with the Queen to ask for help capturing all the cannibully giants that eat people instead of snozzcumbers and frobscottle. And, just a hop, skip and a jump away from Corinthia Hotel London, a trip to Buckingham Palace is certainly in order – though we can’t promise any teatime receptions with Her Majesty.
Across London at Paddington Station a certain disaster-prone bear turned up looking lost with a suitcase full of marmalade sandwiches. Paddington Bear goes on to live just down the road from Portobello market at 32 Windsor Gardens, and while we wouldn’t recommend visiting this address (it’s entirely fictional), we would advocate a trip to Portobello Market. Selling all manner of curiosities and antiques, this is a great place to pick up gifts and mementos to take home.
Meanwhile, London’s favourite nanny, Miss Mary Poppins, looked after the Banks family in Bloomsbury, chim chim cheree-ing her way across London flirting with cheeky chimney sweeps, while whip-smart detective Sherlock Holmes stalked around central London solving crimes. Visit his fictional home at 221b Baker Street, which has become a museum, for a taste of 19th century London.
Finally, for those looking to add some new stories to their collections, several bookstores – including Victoria Park Books, Pickled Pepper Books, and Tales on Moon Lane – all cater specifically to young readers. Just be careful: all those hardcovers can add up to one overweight suitcase at the end of your trip!