Pretty much everyone has seen the Disney cartoon, but T.H. White's The Sword in the Stone is a story that must be read. Nowhere in the movie do you get delicious bits like:
"The cottage had a brass plate screwed on the garden gate. It said: Madame Mim, B.A. (Dom-Daniel) Pianoforte, Needlework, Necromancy."
Or how about the casual mention of Merlin in running shorts ... Merlin knitting his beard into the nightcap he's making ... Merlin's dishes washing themselves up, shouting, "Hey! Let's dunk the tea pot!"
Or a falcon who's been mewed up too long and cannot keep from quoting all the bloody passages of Macbeth? My personal favorite bit of deliciousness, since I have a similar character in my story.
Most people pick up the story of King Arthur from the day in the churchyard, when young Art pulls the sword from the stone and is hailed by all of Merry Old England as their sovereign lord. T.H. White, however, looks back to the innocent childhood of England's once and future king, the days when outlaws like Robin Wood (read: Hood) roamed the Forest Sauvage and knights spent their entire lives questing mysterious beasts.
While certain passages did drag on and I felt like someone should remind White that young boy readers aren't interested in philosophy, and he harped about evolution more than once, this would make a wonderful read-aloud ... Ay say, the dialogue is absolutely lovely, what?