I have a collection of books from my childhood, in a box my mother gave me when she cleaned out her basement. Some were beloved storybooks, some were random teen angsty junior novels (Sweet Valley High, anyone?) and a few were more mature, but still beloved, classics - Anne of Green Gables, Black Beauty, Are You There God, It's Me Margaret, Flowers in the Attic...oh wait. Skip that last one.
One of my favorites is Roald Dahl. He wrote for children, but he doesn't talk down to them. You get the distinct feeling that he's like an eccentric uncle who expects you to understand more about the world, and you want to try and please him. My favorite was a collection of short stories called The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More. Very mature, but still fit right in with the early teen precocious reader that I was. I didn't need the beefy, superhuman heroes of comic books. I needed antiheroes, real people who managed to win, in their little corner of life.
So when I started pulling out classics for my kids, we found we love Fantastic Mr. Fox, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory of course, James and The Giant Peach, too. All stories of an underdog coming out on top, in less than perfect ways. And just recently, I dug out The BFG.
(Instead of linking 10 times, here's Roald Dahl's page at Amazon. Much easier! Also, most of these are easy to find at your public library.)
The BFG stands for Big Friendly Giant. Sophie, an orphan, befriends the big oaf who inadvertently kidnaps her, and together they search for ways to make his life better. It's not unlike another favorite, Where The Wild Things Are. Children confront their fears, and find the things they fear have fears of their own. Everyone wins.
It may be a few more years before I dig out The Bitch, however. Ahem.