A thousand memories come to life at the mention of storybooks; pretty much a throw back to those iconic characters who molded our values and perceptions as a child. This Buzzle post is a rather humble ode to those very memorable storybook characters.
“Books are a uniquely portable magic.”
― Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
I can see how this quote by master storyteller Stephen King may not resonate with some of those who grew up in the “Internet generation”. But to those who’ve spent their childhood with their noses buried in books will understand exactly what Mr. King here is referring to.
The stories that we listen to when we are young manage to stay with us throughout our life. I guess this had something to do with all those different storybook characters who led us to faraway lands where anything was possible. Above all, the lessons that these characters taught us were the key to how we learned our values―about friends, foes, family, and loved ones.
Which is why we’ve brought you a list of hand-picked characters who have reserved permanent places in our collective hearts, long after we’ve placed those books away for safekeeping.
Famous Storybook Characters
The Chronicles of Narnia Series by C. S. Lewis
Wrong will be right, when Aslan comes in sight,
At the sound of his roar, sorrows will be no more,
When he bares his teeth, winter meets its death
And when he shakes his mane, we shall have spring again.”
The central character of C. S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia series, Aslan is the embodiment of all that is pure, just, and true. It is common knowledge that the author, C. S. Lewis envisioned Aslan as a Christ-like figure in the magical land of Narnia―someone who is benevolent towards the oppressed, but is feared by the tyrants. His faithful followers have no way to know how this Lion’s ways work, as He sees things into the future which they cannot. The most important thing Aslan taught us is to look for answers within us when faced with a moral conflict―if you place enough faith in Him, His guidance will always light up the way. In rather mysterious ways, of course.
Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie
“You see children know such a lot now, they soon don’t believe in fairies, and every time a child says, ‘I don’t believe in fairies,’ there is a fairy somewhere that falls down dead.”
As the boy who never grew up, Peter Pan lived a life that we always wished to live―as children, of course. His antics with the Lost Boys in Neverland made us want to live that very life, along with all the adventures. Peter Pan’s various adaptations have only made our love for the character grow stronger, be it the impish rogue in the Disney version or Robin William’s inspired act in Steven Spielberg’s Hook.
The Famous Five
The Famous Five Series by Enid Blyton
“It wasn’t a bit of good fighting grown-ups. They could do exactly as they liked.”
It would be a travesty, not to mention a near-impossible ask, to pick one character from this quirky bunch of investigators. The adventures of Julian, Dick, Anne, and George, along with her dog Timmy made our summer holidays seem like a jail sentence. Kirrin Island was the hot spot of all the activity that had us all yearning for picnics, raspberry pops, and homemade sandwiches and cookies, and not to mention, mysterious encounters of the strange kind. Enid Blyton was one prolific author who focused solely on writing for children, on topics spanning from biblical stories to mysteries to even fantasy. Besides her Famous Five series, she created the Secret Seven mystery series, along with iconic characters like Noddy, Mr. Pink-Whistle, and Amelia Jane.
The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling
“Everybody knew Bagheera, and nobody cared to cross his path, for he was as cunning as Tabaqui, as bold as the wild buffalo, and as reckless as the wounded elephant. But he had a voice as soft as wild honey dripping from a tree, and a skin softer than down.”
Of all the myriad characters in this fascinating children’s novel, Bagheera always stood out; and we’re not even talking about his menacing exterior here. Born in captivity, his sheer strength of will sets him free and takes him into the jungle, where his rock star persona wins him many a feared admirer. His friendship with Mowgli is the highlight of the book, and in my humble opinion, is the ideal kind of friendship based on mutual respect and a whole lot of love.
Everyone in the Harry Potter Series
The Harry Potter Series by J. K. Rowling
“Mr and Mrs Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.”
And so began what is perhaps the modern world’s best known book series. The Harry Potter Series, besides being a exemplary work of fiction, managed to pull off something that no other book had in recent history―have long queues of people and children line outside book stores to get their hands on the very first copies. And therefore, it wouldn’t really be fair to pick one character from this amazing series; they all added their bit of magic to help turn out the books the way they did.
Although, lemme just sneak in a whisper … it’s Severus Snape!
The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss
“A lot of good tricks. I will show them to you. Your mother will not mind at all if I do.”
Author Theodor Geisel created some very memorable characters under the pen name Dr. Seuss, but if we had to pick one, the honor belonged to The Cat. For here was a creature who taught us that it’s fun to be naughty sometimes, as along as you are responsible enough. This book came in at a time when most children’s books were brimming with characters who were a little too perfect for their own good. The Cat in the Hat remains an iconic book, and will continue being so for generations to come.
Heidi by Johanna Spyri
“I’ll always say my prayers … and if God doesn’t answer them at once I shall know it’s because He’s planning something better for me.”
Our all-time favorite mountain girl, Heidi still is a delight to behold. We love her for her courage to face any adversity she encounters, and make the most of it. Heidi had the rare quality of being empathetic towards everyone she met, be it her grumpy grandfather or the ill Clara, teaching us not to judge people on the basis of first encounters, and that charm and courtesy can melt even the most frigid of hearts.
Bambi, a Life in the Woods by Felix Salten
“Faster! Faster, Bambi! Don’t look back! Keep running! Keep running!”
Most of us may have been introduced to Bambi through the Disney film of the same name. But as most Disney characters are, Bambi too was primarily a storybook character. Even today, this character is the epitome of everything that is pure and innocent, despite all the dangers and madness that surround him.
The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams
“Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”
While the meaning of Skin Horse’s layered words of wisdom may have been lost on us as children, it always revealed itself as we aged. This character taught us how our trials and tribulations mold us into being what we are. Our battles against adversities should be looked upon with pride; no matter the damage caused, they do help us evolve into better human beings.
Winnie-the-Pooh by A. A. Milne
“Some people talk to animals. Not many listen though. That’s the problem.”
Pooh Bear’s popularity is evident from the vast number of references made to him on Pinterest and Tumblr. The dim-witted Pooh’s wisdom is displayed by means of tattoos, marketing tools, and even motivational speeches. Ever wonder why? Because, as tragic as it is the way people are losing their basic sense of kindness and empathy, this simpleton’s philosophy manages to strike a chord like no other. And that, dear readers, is what you call the impact of a fabulous storybook character.
Other Memorable Storybook Characters
The Hatter –Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
Charlie Bucket –Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Billy Coleman –Where the Red Fern Grows
The Little Prince –The Little Prince
Harriet M. Welsch –Harriet the Spy
Percy Jackson –Percy Jackson & the Olympians Series
Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III –How to Train Your Dragon
Nancy Drew –Nancy Drew Series
Huckleberry Finn –The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
The impact of all our storybook characters on the progress of humanity is not open to debate. Truly, we need to doff our collective hats to all those great authors who created these memorable icons that continue to inspire generation after generation.