Monthly Archives: December 2018

Perfect Picture Books for Gifts

Yesterday I shared with you my top Christmas book selection, but if you’re looking for a picture book to gift that can be shared all year round then today I have a round up of the most beautiful and giftable books. Each of these have been exquisitely produced with sumptuous spreads and contain the most beautiful storytelling. So if you’re looking for a special gift this Christmas then let me invite you to take a look.

The Boy, His Stories and How They Came To Be – Oliver Jeffers

‘The Boy, His Stories and How They Came to Be,’ is a stunning collection of Oliver Jeffers classic picture book series featuring the boy. For the first time, ‘How to Catch a Star,’ ‘Lost and Found,’ ‘The Way Back Home,’ and ‘Up and Down,’ have been brought together in one edition. Within this book Oliver has shared his sketchbook pages from each of these stories and we discover insightful gems of information, like the true story of the boy and the penguin, discover how a starfish was inspiration for an ending of one of his stories and how a trilogy turned into four books from a sketch of the boy on stilts.  Stunningly produced in hardback, I particularly love how the texture of the sketch pages is different from the rest of the book, it feels like you’re peering over Oliver’s shoulders looking into his actual sketchbooks. This is a real treasure trove of a book and would make a perfect gift not only for a child but for any lover of picture books, especially those with a fondness for understanding the process of idea development and how picture books are created.

Look – Fiona Woodcock

I’m a huge fan of Fiona Woodcock’s stunning picture books, ‘Hiding Heidi,’ and ‘Poppy and the Blooms,’ both featured in my top picture books choices for the last two years. Fiona has an incredible talent for producing books with engaging storytelling and exquisite illustrations and ‘Look,’ is equallys as divine. What makes this book so special is that Fiona uses just words containing two Os to tell the story of a brother and sister and their eventful visit to the zoo.  Fun and creative it is a wonderful book to share with your child and together you can think of so many different ways to tell this story. Bold, vibrant illustrations bounce off the page creating a visual masterpiece which is bound to excite and entertain younger readers.

Once Upon A Wild Wood – Chris Riddell

‘Once Upon a Wild Wood,’ is an inventive and entertaining twist on a classic fairytale featuring beloved characters old and new.  When Little Green Raincape is invited to Rapunzel’s party she must undertake a long journey deep through the wild woods, the way is long and dark and beset by danger. But Green is a smart girl, she isn’t foolish enough to eat an apple offered by a kindly old lady or accept directions from a friendly troll. Yet on her way she can’t help but intervene when she meets the Beast who is desperately missing his true love or help rescue the seven dwarves from being a witch’s  Sunday dinner. Each spread is a feast for the eyes, Chris’s illustrations are filled with intricate details to engage and entertain the reader. Funny, feisty and filled with fairytale magic, a real classic in the making.

Peter Pan – J.M. Barrie, retold by Caryl Hart, Illustrated by Sarah Warburton

Caryl Hart and Sarah Warburton have worked their magic once again and created a stunning and delightful retelling of J.M Barrie’s much beloved classic, ‘Peter Pan.’ Loving told in beautiful, lyrical rhymes Caryl’s glorious storytelling weaves a spell over the reader as we get lost in this wonderful story filled with excitement, magic and adventure. Sublimely produced, Sarah’s artwork whisks us away to the magical world of Neverland – a land of singing mermaids, lost boys and the dastardliest of villains Captain Hook. This is a story that will capture the hearts and imagination of children (and grown ups) and will become a much loved part of your bookshelf that you will want to hold on to long after your child has grown up.

The Girls – Lauren Ace & Jenny Lovlie

‘The Girls,’ is an unique and thoughtful picture book that celebrates the power and strength of female friendship. We go on a journey with four friends who are distinctly different, strong individually but together they can achieve anything they want. They are there for each other throughout their lives, in good times and in bad and no matter how far from each other they may be, their bonds remains unbreakable. Lauren’s joyous storytelling is matched by Jenny’s delightful illustrations which are bursting with warmth and emotion. Refreshingly diverse, this is a story that at his heart has a very simple but powerful message about the enduring nature of friendship. Buy it to inspire a young girl in your life or give it to your best friend to say thank you for their friendship but above all enjoy it for the beautiful book that it is.

Joy – Corrinne Averiss & Isabelle Follath


For me the most special part of Christmas is about spending time with loved ones. As long as I have my family (and pigs in blankets and lots of sprouts) on Christmas Day then I will be happy. So what better book to share at Christmas than ‘Joy,’ a story of a little girl called Fern whose Nanna seems to have lost her joy for life. Determined to restore her Nanna’s happiness, Fern assembles her very best collecting kit including a fishing net, a box and a saucepan and sets off to find some joy to bring back to her Nanna. Poor Fern is distraught when capturing joy evades her, how will she ever put a smile back on her Nanna’s face. Isabelle’s sumptuous illustrations cleverly capture the stark difference between the emotions using a contrasting palette. A true celebration of the bond between a child and their grandparents. Emotional, funny and ultimately uplifting this is a delightful tale filled with hopes, dreams and joy.

 

Thank you to Harper Collins, Little Tiger, Macmillan, Nosy Crow and Words and Pictures for sending me copies of these glorious books. All of these books are available to buy now online (click on the title) or from any good bookshop.

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It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas

To shamelessly steal a quote from a song but ‘it really is beginning to look a lot like Christmas’, slightly changing the next line to ‘books in every store.’ So if you like nothing better than settling down with a Christmas book or two, or if you’re looking for inspiration for gifts let me share with you today some of my favourites from this year’s releases.

The Truth Pixie – Matt Haig & Chris Mould

Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without a seasonal treat from the brilliant collaboration of Matt Haig and Chris Mould, this is the fourth year we’ve been treated to one of their glorious tales and this year is even more magical. The Truth Pixie first made an appearance in the first of Matt and Chris’s gorgeous trilogy, ‘A Boy Called Christmas,’ and quite literally stole our hearts with her inability to stop telling the truth. The problem when you can’t be like the rest of the world, life becomes tricky, you can’t blend in when you’re cursed to stand out. In the darkest of times, the Truth Pixie begins to realise there is still light and when she discovers someone who likes her for being (and despite) herself, she finally learns to love herself. Matt’s brilliantly observed storytelling is matched by Chris’s truly genius illustrations.  Heart-warming and humorous in equal measures and the perfect size to pop in a stocking, ‘The Truth Pixie,’ is the story that everyone needs in their life this Christmas.

Christmas Gremlins – Adam & Charlotte Guillain, & Chris Chatterton

Those naughty gremlins are back and this time they are up to some crazy Christmas tricks that will delight and entertain younger readers. Can you find out what those mischief makers are up to this time? Lift the flaps to discover gremlins scoffing the turkey, wrapping up the dog, blocking the chimney so Santa can’t get down and lots more fiendish festive mayhem they are causing. Chris Chattertons’ illustrations capture brilliantly the chaos and carnage that the gremlins cause, making children and grown ups gasp with delight at their cheekiness. Told in brilliant bouncing rhymes this is a joy to read aloud and has caused so much laughter and excitement when I’ve shared it at storytime in school.

The Christmas Extravaganza Hotel – Tracey Corderoy & Tony Neal

Bear is all set for a nice, calm Christmas when he is disturbed by a festive loving frog who has accidentally travelled to the wrong side of the world in search of a Christmas Extravaganza. He’s expecting singing trees, supersonic sleigh rides and an all-you-can-eat North Pole breakfast bar and instead he’s met by bear who lives in an ordinary cabin not a fabulous hotel. Determined not to disappoint the devastated frog, bear sets out to show him that a Christmas can be just as happy without all the extravagant trimmings. In a world that has gone completely commercial with Christmas, this is a timely reminder that it can be a time to remember to pause and enjoy the simple things in life. Gloriously told with lively and funny illustrations, this story is as warm and comforting as a hot chocolate with cream and marshmallows – a real Christmas treat.

Santa’s Wonderful Workshop – Elys Dolan

‘Santa’s Wonderful Workshop,’ gives us an unique and highly hilarious countdown to Christmas where anything and everything can (and does) happen. Santa has some extraordinary ideas of how to deal with the chief elf’s news that there will be more children than ever this year. Surely the solution has to be to bring in extra helpers, but when that’s in the form of some troublesome penguins and a terrifying polar bear it all goes terribly wrong. Mr Johnson the snowman next door is furious with all the extra noise, the tooth fairy is cross at Santa for continuously eating candy canes and when the heating breaks down they all end up with flu. What more could possibly go wrong? Packed with witty observations, brilliantly funny illustrations there is so much to see and do in this madcap adventure. Elys has an amazing knack for creating these wonderful works of art and imagination that keep children coming back for more. An absolute festive masterpiece I just loved it!

Jingle Spells – James Brown

Trixie is different from your average witch, she shuns Halloween celebrations instead her absolute favourite time of the year Christmas. How can she possible make her friends see what a magical time it is, she decides they need a Santa intervention. But the problem is when you’re a witch everyone thinks you’re bad, so Trixie finds that she is firmly on the naughty list and her request to visit Santa in Lapland is denied. Undeterred she decides to set off in search for Santa and discovers to her horror that Christmas is in danger of not happening this year. It’s up to Trixie to find a way to save Christmas before it’s too late! I really enjoyed this twist on a traditional Christmas tale, I think it’s a lovely story which shows children that we shouldn’t make assumptions about people we don’t know. Beautifully illustrated and filled with Christmas magic, this is an enchanting and entertaining tale.

How to Hide a Lion at Christmas – Helen Stephens

Iris and her lion are back in another charming tale that is bound to put a smile on your face. When Mum insists that lion can’t come away at Christmas with them Iris is so upset, her lion goes everywhere with her, she can’t possibly leave him at home. But as the family set off on the train, lion has other ideas and is determined not to be separated from his beloved Iris. Secretly stowed away in the luggage rack lion watches over sad Iris and wishes he could comfort her. The problem with luggage racks are they’re rather cosy and lion falls fast asleep missing Iris and her family leave the train. Can lion find his way back to Iris in time for Christmas? Lovingly told with bold, vibrant illustrations this is a wonderful addition to this delightful series.

Sammy Claws: The Christmas Cat – Lucy Rowland & Paula Bowles

It’s Christmas Eve and Sammy Claws, Santa’s pet cat wants to help but watching everyone looking so busy is incredibly tidy and he soon finds himself fast asleep. When he wakes up, he’s in a panic and rushes to help but instead causes chaos and carnage at every turn. Now Santa will never let him ride on his sleigh. Slinking off for nap to stay out of trouble, Sammy finds himself wrapped up and in Santa’s sack. But when two robbers plot to steal all of Santa’s presents, can Sammy redeem himself and save the day? Vibrant rhymes and stunning illustrations create a truly charming Christmas story that is a joy to read aloud. Each spread is filled with so many intricate and beautiful details that make this book a joy to behold. Fun, festive and fabulous this is a truly enjoyable Christmas read.

A Very Corgi Christmas – Sam Hay & Loretta Schauer

Belle the royal corgi is the only doggy at Buckingham Palace determined to join in with all of the Christmas fun despite her families protests that Christmas is NOT for corgis. Spying an opportunity to explore London and find those like her who want to embrace the Christmas spirit. But Belle finds it all a bit too much, it’s too hectic, loud and soon she is lost with no way of getting home. Luckily she is befriended by streetwise Pip who whisks her away on a magical tour of London. When it’s time to go home and leave Pip behind, Belle is sure that Christmas won’t be the same without him. What she needs is a Christmas miracle to bring them back together. An enchanting tale bursting with Christmas joy and magic, gorgeously told with engaging illustrations that’s bound to make you feel all warm and glowing inside.

The Dog That Saved Christmas – Nicola Davies & Mike Byrne

‘The Dog That Saved Christmas,’ is a heart-warming and insightful story of Jake, a boy who is different from the other children at school. He struggles with changes and uncertainty in his routine and the all consuming time of Christmas is even more difficult for him to bear. But life changes for Jake when he finds a stray dog on the street and he makes a connection with Susan in a way he has never managed with anyone else before. This is such a beautiful read, it celebrates how animals can be the key to unlocking emotions and creating bonds with children who may find it tricky to create relationships in the traditional way. I think it’s important for children to recognise that Christmas isn’t always a joyful time for everyone, for some it’s an incredibly difficult period of time for many reasons. At the heart of this Christmas story is hope, the hope that small positive changes in your life can help make this time enjoyable even when it hasn’t been in the past. Thoughtfully told with wonderfully warm illustrations that capture the relationship between Jake and Susan perfectly.

 

Thank you to Barrington Stoke, Egmont, Little Tiger, Nosy Crow, OUP, Simon and Schuster and Scholastic for sending me copies of these festive treats. ‘The Truth Pixie,’ courtesy of my brilliant local library in Whitchurch. All of these books are available to buy now online (click on the titles to buy) or from any good bookshop.

If you want to bring some festive cheer into a child who is in care this Christmas please consider supporting the Booktrust’s Festive Parcel scheme, from £10 you can ensure a child gets a book sent to them.

 

With Christmas rapidly approaching (20 days and counting) I’m now fully immersed in my Christmas reads. Despite an enticing pile of January releases waiting in the wings, I’m wrapping myself in a cosy blanket with a hot chocolate and allowing myself to be transported to snowy worlds filled with magic. Today I’m joining in with the blog tour for, ‘The Night I Met Father Christmas,’ written by Ben Miller and illustrated by Daniela Jaglenka Terrazzini.  Daniela’s beautiful black and while illustrations give this book a real classic feel. This book has been lovingly produced with the most glorious cover sprinkled with gold, promising an enchanting Christmas tale with stunning endpapers giving this book a real giftable appeal.

Jackson’s faith in Father Christmas is rocked one year when a friend tells him that he doesn’t actually exist. Confused and dismayed Jackson starts to question everything he has ever believed, how can Father Christmas possibly deliver all the presents in one night and who eats the mince pies and drinks the brandy? Horrified that this might be true, Jackson hatches a plan to prove once and for all that Father Christmas does exist and to discover how it all began. Pretending to be asleep he lies in wait for Santa to come down the chimney and is surprised by what he encounters. As Father Christmas shares his story with Jackson, we discover an unexpected past filled with sadness and misery in his tale of an orphan elf called Torvil. ‘The NIght I Met Father Christmas,’ is a story to share at Christmas to help us to remember and celebrate the true spirit of giving and sharing especially with others less fortunate at this special time.

Today on the blog I am pleased to share with you an extract from, ‘The Night I Met Father Christmas,’ which comes at a significant point in the story when an encounter with a reindeer changes the course of direction in Torvil’s life.

Blog Tour

Why not join in with the rest of the blog tour for reviews, guest posts and giveaways.

Thank you to Eve and Simon & Schuster for inviting me to join in with the blog tour and for sending me a copy of this festive treat. ‘The Night I Met Father Christmas,’ is available to buy now online or from any good bookshop.