Not only are books still the best gift for children, it has been a year of great books arriving on our shelves and we thought to give you a round-up of some of the favourites, there are just so many to choose from:
For the little ones
Fairytale Hairdresser by Abie Longstaff, is a brilliant story of Kitty Lacey, the fairytale hairdresser, she tames the wildest of locks, deals with the most demanding and unusual of customers (whom you might recognise from other stories!) and ultimately foils the Witch’s evil plan, when she helps Rapunzel find her prince. A decent haircut really can work wonders!
Monster spends a day at work with his dad. He does everything (well all most) his Dad does, from wearing a tie to playing on the computer. He is having a great day and just assumes so does Dad. Monster Day at Work by Sarah Dyer is a great book for both parents and little ones as it looks at the work day in a new way.
Italian-born, Beatrice Alemagna, lives in Paris today and is well-known in Europe for her felted wool technique mixed with an amalgam of applique, fabrics and stitching. In her new Bugs in the Garden the little bugs have to learn to explore the world outside and how to accept creatures they are initially afraid of. A true gem.
Dinosaurs remain a favourite of many little people. Bernard Most has written the best story, If the Dinosaurs Came Back. Where would they live, what would they do if they were here now with us, maybe they could rescue the kites stuck in the very high trees, of they could help the firefighters put out the flames or scare away the robbers. A book that will make you wish you had a dinosaur!
We simply adore Splat the Cat by Rob Scotton. And for Christmas this year, Splat is loving us back with a great boxset of three titles, loads of stickers and a colouring-in poster with crayons. Splat and his friend the Mouse has caused some great hiccups in his poor teacher’s class.
Once upon a time there was a wolf called Rolf. He was a Good Little Wolf who liked baking cakes and was always kind to his friends. One day Rolf meets the big bad wolf and can’t help but wonder if he is also suppose to be bad. Nadia Shireen created a story which is meant to make us question our true selfs, and with a surprising ending, it certainly does!
A Place to Call Home by Alexis Deacon, is the story of a band of seven furry brothers who have outgrown their home and are forced out into the world. And so their adventure begins – a quest for a new place to call their own! This determined little unit tackle the elements: crossing the sea, climbing a mountain, trawling across the desert and surviving a labyrinth until, finally, they reach the edge of the world… What will they see here and will they ever find a place they can call home? One of the funniest laugh-out-loud stories this year!
“Don’t get your knickers in a twist,” said Jack.
Jack and the Flumflum Tree beautifully illustrated by David Roberts is the best Julia Donaldson of the year. Gran packs them a patchwork bag full of goodies they might need as they journey to the Flumflum tree to help Gran get better. The rhyme is brilliant and along with Rose and Stu, Jack is in for a great adventure.
The cutest little zebra, Zou wants his parents to wake up so that he can snuggle in bed with them. He decides to make them breakfast. After many hiccups, he eventually gets his wish. With text and illustrations by Michel Gay, you will adore this little guy.
Look Mom! I’m reading!
Ian Fleming, who wrote all the James Bond novels, wrote one children’s book and this year, author Frank Cotterell Boyce, finally wrote the brilliant sequel. Chitty Chitty Bang Flies again tells the zany crazy story of the old magical engine now in a camper van which is the means of transport for poor Jemma’s family on what she hoped would have been an ordinary holiday, but no more….!
Have you read all the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books (even the latest one, Cabin Fever) and now don’t know what to read next? Have you tried the Dork Diaries by Rachel Reneé Russell? Meet Nikki Maxwell, self-proclaimed Queen Dork, who spills all the details of her “not-so-fabulous-life” through sketches, doodles and secret entries in her book. Have we not all had a bad hair day? Book 1-3 is now available in a great little boxset.
A treasure for time gone by, The Little Bookroom by Eleanor Farjeon is available in a beautiful paperback with the same magical stories that enchanted children decades ago. Eleanor Farjeon created a faraway place with princes and queens, giants and goldfish, where all can be possible within the pages of the story. Get carried away with this classic read.
There is a new favourite character on the scene. Meet Claude, dog extraordinaire, with his best friend, Mr Bobblysock (yes, a stripy sock) and all the crazy adventures they get up to, purely accidental of course! In Claude on Holiday they find pirates and accidental treasure instead of the peaceful days of leisure they were hoping for. Alex T. Smith has created magical drawings to capture Claude in our hearts forever.
Agatha Parrot is a brilliant character with a bright and witty voice. She narrates her own story, which is ‘typed out neatly by Kjartan Poskitt (author)’ Agatha’s class is going on a special trip as a reward for all having full attendance for the term. Agatha’s friend Martha has an incident with a crazy pizza (octopus paste…) and gets sick. Naturally, Agatha has to pretend that Martha is not sick and is at school, with the help of a balloon, Martha’s coat and some newspaper-stuffed trousers. Hilarity ensues as she battles to save the class trip. Agatha Parrot and the Floating Head is perfect for Mr Gum fans.
Meerkat Madness is the story of a burrow of meerkat pups and their eccentric babysitter, Uncle Fearless who once travelled to the Blah-Blah camp at the edge of the desert. Truth be told, Uncle is a bit of a show-off but the pups love his colourful stories even if they don’t really believe them. But then they find a mysterious object buried in the sand and it isn’t long before they are caught up in a daring adventure of their own! Told in Ian Whybrow’s unique style this hilarious animal adventure starring ever-popular meerkats is a funny, fast-paced, sure-fire hit.
Freya is an ordinary girl living in modern Britain, but with a twist: people still worship the Viking gods. She’s caught in her parents’ divorce, and shuttling between bickering adults is no fun. One evening, stuck with her dad on his night shift at the British Museum, she is drawn to the Lewis Chessmen and Heimdall’s Horn. Unable to resist, she blows the horn, waking three chess pieces from their enchantment; the slaves Roskva and Alfi, and Snot the Berserk. They are all summoned to Asgard, land of the Viking gods, and told they must go on a perilous journey to restore the gods to youth. If Freya refuses she will be turned into an ivory chess piece but, if she accepts her destiny and fails, the same terrible fate awaits her. Francesca Simon’s The Sleeping Army is brilliantly funny, original and a wholly new take on the Norse myths – and the travails of contemporary family life.
For those who just love children’s books
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory remain one of the most loved Roald Dahl books and now for the first time it is available in a pop-up book which looks like a bar of Wonka chocolate. With these Quentin Blake illustrations in a new dimension, this feast of moving parts and paper crafting is a must-have for fans.
Bear has lost his hat. It is red and pointy. He asks various animals if they have seen it but they have not. Depressed, Bear despairs of ever seeing his beloved hat again until Deer asks him what it looked like. As he describes it both Bear and the astute reader will realize they have seen the hat before, atop the head of Rabbit who, when queried, was suspiciously nervous in his response. Bear retraces his steps back to Rabbit, calls him out as a liar and… With a surprising ending, this is a new favourite. I want my hat back by Jon Klassen, has on the New York Times list of Best Illustrated books for 2011.
Book Lounge hearts McSweeneys. They have started producing children’s books and with Amy Martin’s beautiful Symphony City we follow a little girl through a city as she discovers the music the city produces with all its noise. The more she hears the heartbeat of the city the brighter the illustrations. A beautiful book, you would want to frame every page.
A book that will make you ooh and aah, is the lastest offering of Stephen MacKey (from Miki), called Pushka. Pushka is fast asleep in his bed on the circus train. Little does he know that he is about to topple out… amongst the enchanted trees. Scared, Pushka runs away through the night until he spies the most beautiful dancing girl. She says not a word, but she beckons him to her, luring Pushka into the arms of a hungry giant! Will Pushka ever make it back to the circus? The illustrations are so dreamy and magical that you feel as if you could make believe anything.
The Crows of Pearblossom tells the story of Mr. and Mrs. Crow, who live in a cotton-wood tree. Due to a hungry Rattlesnake living at the bottom of the tree, Mrs. Crow’s eggs disappear before they hatch. After catching the snake eating her 297th egg that year (she does not work on Sundays), Mrs. Crow tells Mr. Crow go and kill the snake. Thinking better of it, Mr. Crow confers with his wise friend, Old Man Owl. Owl bakes mud into two stone eggs and paints them to resemble Mrs. Crows eggs. These dummy eggs catches the Rattlesnake out and gives Mrs Crow the victory she desired. Written by the great Aldous Huxley (Brave New World) it is a keepsake.
YA Reads (teenager is so last year)
With the Chocolate Box girls, Cathy Cassidy has once again got a winning recipe. When two families merge, it leaves room for each girl to tell their story. In this, Marshmallow Skye, the 2nd in the series, we meet Skye, one of the twins. Along with her sister Summer, they do everything together, although it seems that Summer is always just more in the spotlight. Skye wants to be her own person, will she ever step out of Summer’s shadow and find her own chance to shine?
When Amo is asked to run the agony column for her school newspaper, she is insulted. She is a serious journalist! She wants to be known as a newshound, not Aunt Lulu who gives out advice. But then an anonymous letter arrives from Hopelessly in Love and Amo is sure she knows who the writer is, and that he has written it about her. Suddenly the Aunt Lulu gigs might not be too bad. A hilarious school story by Botswanian author, Lauri Kubuitsile, perfect escapism.
Anger and pain consume Cora; they have since last year when her brother died. Now her family’s broken, barely speaking to each other and barely surviving. Nate’s the one who died, but Cora feels the brunt of her parent’s disappointment, sadness, and anger. She’s not allowed out after dark, she must come straight home from school, and she can’t get into a car without a parent’s approval. All summer long, she’s spent the days inside her room imagining the places in the world she’d rather be, while drawing maps and pictures of her travels. Now she must face reality and start high school. She doesn’t enter as an unknown, but as the sister of her dead brother. Everyone knew Nate, but not everyone liked him. Cora’s just trying to survive, but along the way her heart opens. She talks to her brother’s best friend, who was in the car that night, and things change. He shows her a side of her brother she didn’t know. Lisa Ann Sandell writes a breathtakingly beautiful and heart-wrenching novel, A Map of the Known World, that will haunt you long after you’re finished.
Celebrating the spree of dystopian novels currently seeing the light, Bumped by Megan McCafferty creates a world. A virus has swept the world, making everyone over the age of eighteen infertile. Teenagers are now the most prized members of society, and would-be parents desperately bid for ‘conception contracts’ with the prettiest, healthiest and cleverest girls. Sixteen-year-old Melody is gorgeous, athletic and has perfect grades, and has scored an amazing contract with a rich couple. And she’s been matched with one of the most desirable ‘bumping’ partners in the world – the incredibly hot, genetically flawless Jondoe. But Melody’s luck is about to run out. She discovers she has a sister – an identical twin, Harmony, who has grown up in a religious community opposed to the idea of ‘pregging’. Harmony believes her calling is to save Melody from her sinful plans. Melody doesn’t have time for this – she can’t wait to meet Jondoe and seal the deal. But when he arrives and mistakes Harmony for Melody, everyone’s carefully-laid plans are swept out of control – and Melody and Harmony are about to realise they have so much more than just DNA in common. Sharp, original and sassy, this futuristic take on teen pregnancy is totally readable and scarily believable.
What would you sacrifice for someone you’ve loved forever – told in seven parts and spanning ten centuries, a cleverly constructed, beautifully crafted love story with elements of thriller and the supernatural. Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgewick proves once again that he is a literary master. It’s 2073 and Eric Seven is a journalist visiting the remote Swedish island of Blessed to investigate claims that no one there ages and the local population do not have children. He strikes up a friendship with a young local woman called Merle. Soon he becomes aware that there’s more to the island than meets the eye… The events encountered by Eric Seven are part of a cycle started a thousand years earlier when a king and queen were cruelly ripped apart by the demands of their society. Eric and Merle are trapped in a pattern that will be repeated for eternity unless Eric and Merle can find a way of breaking it
Celia Frost is a freak. At least that’s what everyone thinks. Her life is ruled by a rare disorder that means she could bleed to death from the slightest cut, confining her to a gloomy bubble of safety. No friends. No fun. No life. But when a knife attack on Celia has unexpected consequences, her mum reacts strangely. Suddenly they’re on the run. Why is her mum so scared? Someone out there knows – and when they find Celia, she’s going to wish the truth was a lie. A buried secret; a gripping manhunt; a dangerous deceit: what is the Truth about Celia Frost? A page-turning thriller by Paula Rawsthorne, that’s impossible to put down.
My name is Mina, I love the night. This novel is all about Mina, the girl who befriends Michael in one of David Almond’s previous novels, Skellig. It is a pre-quel; written after another story, but giving parallel events leading up to Mina and Michael meeting at the start of Skellig. This book is written as if it were Mina’s diary. In between stories and poems and ideas and Mina’s philosophy it tells the story of the events that have shaped Mina’s life up to this point. Her whole life is coloured by the loss of her father, and the book is an exercise in understanding and redemption. David Almond is a master storyteller who deserves a wide readership.
The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson, is a thrilling ghost-hunting teen mystery, as modern-day London is plagued by a sudden outbreak of brutal murders that mimic the horrific crimes of Jack the Ripper. Sixteen-year-old American girl Rory has just arrived at boarding school in London when a Jack the Ripper copycat-killer begins terrorising the city. All the hallmarks of his infamous murders are frighteningly present, but there are few clues to the killer’s identity.“Rippermania” grabs hold of modern-day London, and the police are stumped with few leads and no witnesses. Except one. In an unknown city with few friends to turn to, Rory makes a chilling discovery…
“A gorgeously written, chilling, atmospheric thriller. The streets of London have never been so sinister or so romantic.” Cassandra Clare, author of THE MORTAL INSTRUMENTS
Here’s the low-down on Ruby Redfort: she’s a genius code-cracker, a daring detective, and a gadget-laden special agent who just happens to be a thirteen-year-old girl. She and her slick side-kick butler, Hitch, foil crimes and get into loads of scrapes with evil villains, but they’re always ice-cool in a crisis.
In Ruby Redfort: Look Into My Eyes, we go right back to Ruby’s beginnings as an agent. When an anonymous caller sets Ruby a challenge, it’s not long before she finds her way into the HQ of the most secret of secret agencies, Spectrum. They need her help to crack a code but her desk job soon spirals into an all-out action adventure, as Ruby uncovers the dastardly plans of the formidable Fool’s Gold Gang. This is the super-awesome new creation from multi-million-copy bestseller Lauren Child, ooh it seems there is a new Nancy Drew on the block.
This is just a small selection of a vast range of amazing books out this year, do pop in or mail us if you have a question about other children’s books. We are rather proud of our selection!