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 from younger readers, all the way up to teens.
A Christmas in Time – Sally Nicholls, illustrated. by Rachael Dean (cover Isabelle Follath)
I hugely enjoyed the first book in this series, ‘A Chase in Time,’ so was thrilled to get my hands on the festive, ‘A Christmas in Time.’ Alex and Ruby are back in another time slip adventure and their aunt’s magical mirror has transported them to a Victorian Christmas. Meeting a familiar face makes things easier but they still have to figure out why they have been sent back in time. Despite the cheer and fun of the season, one of the cousins Edith is desperately sad, destined to be sent off to a horrible boarding school. Can Alex and Ruby find a way to save her from a terrible fate? Once again Sally has brought together superb characterisation with a richly, detailed journey to the past. I loved the chaos and disorder in the house and the wildness of the children who really know how to enjoy themselves which contrasts greatly with Edith’s inability to join in with the others. The attention to historical detail is richly imagined and fascinating. I particularly loved the scene where Ruby is getting dressed and is subjected to the horrors of the corset An absolute romp of an adventure that is bound to delight and entertain children, I’m so looking forward to the next books in the series coming next year.
Clifftoppers: The Frost Castle Adventure – Fleur Hitchcock
Fleur Hitchcock is back with the final instalment in the wonderful Clifftoppers series. In, ‘The Frost Castle Adventure,’ cousins Aiden, Chloe, Ava and Josh go on holiday to their grandparent’s cottages at Christmas. Witnessing a car crash they find themselves caught up in the Castle’s winter play where inevitably a mystery is unfolding. After a break-in, the car accident and the theft of a precious locker, the lead actress is convinced she is cursed. But the cousins are convinced that there is more to this than meets the eye and are determined to uncover the true culprit. As the snow falls heavily outside you’ll find yourself gripped by this race against time to find the locket and save the play. With twists and turns at every stage, it will keep you guessing to the end. Containing just the right amount of peril and danger for younger readers, this book brings this series to a glorious end. This series is rightly much loved by so many children at my school.
Trouble on Planet Christmas – Kate Saunders, illustrated by Neal Layton
The Trubshaw family are back in another fun-filled festive adventure when Santa has another crisis on the planet of Yule-1. Rogue toy dinosaurs are threatening to ruin Christmas be eating everything in sight and someone has turned Santa blue. Can Jake and Lucy discover who is behind this dastardly plan and prevent a Christmas catastrophe? This lively and fun tale is packed with chaos and comedy and will truly entertain younger readers. Kate and Neal make for a wonderful collaboration, his humorous illustrations capture her madcap storytelling brilliantly. More Christmassy than a mince pie and crackers , this definitely should be going in a child’s stocking this Christmas.
Tinsel: The Girls Who Invented Christmas – Sibéal Pounder, illustrated by Sarah Warburton
If there was ever a book that would get you in the festive spirit, then it’s, ‘Tinsel.’ This joyful reimaging of the Christmas story takes the reader on a journey to meet Blanche Claus aka Mrs Claus. We’ve always assumed that Santa is in charge of Christmas but what if we’ve got it completely wrong and it was actually Mrs Claus who wanted to spread joy and kindness to all. Hop onboard the sleight for a truly wondrous adventure where you’ll meet an over enthusiastic, dancing tree, a whole host of elves called Carol and a girl who is determined to overcome all of the odds to achieve her dreams. I loved the this vividly imagined world filled with so many wonderful details. The characterisation is superb, from the brave and endearing heroine Blanche to the despicable villain Mr. Krampus who you will love to hate, they bring the story to life magnificently. Sarah’s cover is absolutely sublime with such intricate details, I would have loved to have seen more illustrations from her featured in this book. Funny, warm and completely enchanting it has everything you need for a fabulously festive adventure.
Trouble in a Tutu – Helen Lipscombe
I was completely enthralled by the first book in the Swan House Ballet School mysteries, ‘Peril en Pointe,’ so was delighted to return to Swan House for another new adventure. When an incident takes place at a Christmas performance of The Nutcracker, Swan House is put on high alert. Could this signal the return of the dangerous criminal, the Mouse King? Milly’s mum is forced to abandon their Christmas plans to go off and investigate leaving her and the school in the hands of the charming Max Deverall. But Milly is convinced that Max and his perfect daughter Leonara are hiding something and is determined to expose them. Helen takes us on a fast-paced and thrilling ride full of thrills and spills as Milly tries to unravel the truth in a complex and exciting mystery. Cleverly plotted with lots of twists and turns, every time you think you’re getting close to the truth something else comes along to surprise you. An absolutely brilliant follow up which I will take great delight in recommending at school.
The Silent Stars Go By – Sally Nicholls
There are many historical books that choose to feature significant periods in history, with the World Wars being a favourite. But for me I’ve always been intrigued by the period of time after these wars. What happened to those left behind, the people whose lives where forever changed by the events that had taken place? Luckily for us Sally Nicholl’s has once again captured a slice of social history in the magnificent, ‘The Silent Stars Go By.’ When Margot’s fiancé, Harry, was reported missing in action she is left with a terrifying secrets which threatens to destroy her family’s reputation. Margot returns to her family to celebrate Christmas 1919 and is forced to confront her past when Harry who was later discovered to be alive returns and wants to rekindle their relationship. Can Margot tell the truth and risk ruining any chance of reunion she might have with Harry? The characterisation is flawless, Sally has a real talent for writing characters we genuinely care about. I love how it isn’t afraid to tackle difficult topics and does so in an uncompromising and unsentimental way. A bittersweet tale of love, loss and the damaging after effects of war. This compelling and thoughtful story of changing lives, hidden secrets and the importance of hope in the darkest of times is the perfect choice for the teen in your life.
Thank you to Andersen Press, Bloomsbury, Chicken House, Faber and Nosy Crow for sending me gifted copies. All of these books are available to buy now online by clicking on the the title. If you can please support your local independent bookshop you can find your nearest one here.