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.
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.
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.
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,’ 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!
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.
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.
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.
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,’ 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.