Names From Children’s Literature

The Gruffalo from a recent animation of the book, from guim.co.uk

As a kid, I read in most of my free moments. Nowadays, I haven’t properly sat down with a book for nearly a year now. I remember as a child being worried about the local library moving me to the adult’s library when I turned 14 and thus preventing me from taking out books I wanted to read. Of late, our library has added a teen fiction section to their adult section of their library; it’s a tiny cubbyhole, though. Given yesterday’s post, I seem to be getting a kick out of kid’s fiction at the moment so you never know, may go and implusively buy a book tommorow.

Whilst I may not be particularly interested in reading much anymore, there are several names I first came across in the world of make-believe:

Axel (The Gruffalo, Julia Donaldson)

The Gruffalo is a modern classic, and whilst Axel Schiffer didn’t author the book, he did illustrate it. I find The Gruffalo an endearing tale, which seems to rub off on the name Axel. Some may accuse him of being in the same clase as Gunner and Cannon, but I find him charming enough. Far from deriving from a vital part of a car, Axel comes from the Biblical name Absalom which means my father is peace. A key wearer of the name who no doubt influenced the tough guy image of the name is Guns N’ Roses frontman Axl Rose, who was born a William. In 2010, 43 little Axels were born in England&Wales giving the name a ranking of #706.

Briar&Lark (Circle of Magic, Tamora Pierce)

There’s a very interesting point to make with these names, and that is that Briar is a male character who chose the name for himself. He wanted a nature name, but nothing too feminine. Since this was the first time I really met the name Briar, I mostly think of him as a male name. Yes, there is Sleeping Beauty, who was known as Briar Rose but I never really watched that particular Disney Classic as a child. Incidently, Briar’s chosen surname was Moss. I’m probably one of the few to see Briar as male, since he does not rank as a male name in England&Wales; however, on the female list, Briar ranked at #5707 with only 3 girls given the name – with a further 5 named Briar-Rose.

Lark was female, and I’m still not wholly won over by the name since I use lark in a verb sense on a fairly regular basis as slang for joke. In terms of popularity, she was also given to 3 girls born in England&Wales in 2010.

Clarice (Clarice Bean, Lauren Child)

Clarice is the third child in a rather interestingly named sibset: Marcie, Kurt, Clarice and Minal Cricket. If you recognise the name of the author, Lauren Child is also the lady behind Charlie&Lola. Both books are aimed at the under 9s market. The name Clarice is part of the Claire family of names, which come from Latin and mean light. In 2010, there were 9 girls named Clarice in England&Wales in 2010.

Keturah ‘Ketty’ (Medusa Project, Sophie McKenzie)

Ketty is only ever called Ketty during the novel – after reading the book I took to the internet to find out what exactly Ketty was short for, if it were short for anything at all. Whilst reading the book, I had my bets penned on Katherine, which seemed the most likely given one can derive Kitty from Katherine – so why not Ketty? On the website for the books it is revealed that Ketty is, infact, a Keturah. She has a brother named Lex, which is short for Alexander.

The name Keturah is of Biblical origins and means incense, with only 3 girls given the name in 2010 in England&Wales.

Persephone ‘Sephy’ (Noughts&Crosses, Malorie Blackman)

Perhaps the most controversial book on this list, I actually won a signed copy of this a few years ago. It deals with the topic of racism, but the situation is flipped, thus those with dark skin (Crosses) have higher social status than those with white skin (Noughts). Sephy was of the former group and the daughter of a wealthy politician. I’ll be honest, I accidently read the third book first, then went back to the third and that’s about as far as I got with this particular series of books.

Persephone was given to 7 girls born in England&Wales in 2010. Most people first come across this name in Greek mythology, where she was the daughter of Demeter and Zeus. She was abducted by Hades, and eventually allowed to return to the surface from the underworld for a period of time each year.

Rosen (We’re going on a bear hunt, Michael Rosen)

I was read this book constantly as a child, and after the first time prompty renamed ones of my toys with the name Rosen. There are plenty of Rose-themed names out there, and aptly Bree has recently covered a selection of them, whilst only today has Abby gone in depth with Rosamund. In terms of Rosen, I see the name as somewhat unisex – kind of like Rowan is. Rosen also happens to be the German words for roses – kind of reminds me also of the German word for ruby: Rubin; looks an awful lot like Reuben, doesn’t he?

Wren&Hester (Mortal Engines, Philip Reeve)

Hester is the mother of Wren. I actually hated the character of Wren – so initially cared not for the name; I did really like Hester, though, and thus like her name. Nowadays I do like Wren to an extent, but probably more for a lad since the character did somewhat tarnish the name as a female one for me. The name Hester is a variation of the name Esther.

The names totted up as such in the popularity stakes in England&Wales in 2010:

  Rank Births
Wren (b) #2941 6
Wren (g) #2589 9
Hester #1815 15
Categories: Book Names | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “Names From Children’s Literature

  1. There isn’t one name in this post that I don’t care for. Lovely!

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  2. I always find that literature is a wonderful place to look for names. A few years back I came across the name Toolee in a book, and I’m still trying to find out about it now. Rosen is such a great pick. It has an edge that delicate, classic Rose just doesn’t have. Persephone with Sephy as a nicknames is also fantastic.

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  3. Fantastic names from kid’s books! (You didn’t really get kicked out at 14, did you?)

    I have a soft spot for Axel, and Keturah is very under-used.

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  4. Pingback: Weekend Post: Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland « Mer de Noms

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