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.
I can’t tell you how excited I was to get my hand on a copy of, ‘Dogger’s Christmas,’ by the wonderful Shirley Hughes. Dogger is back in this gorgeous festive sequel which is bound to fill you with Christmas joy. Dave is growing up and his beloved Dogger is no longer his constant companion, overlooked in favour of new toys he’s abandoned and seemingly forgotten in the excitement of Christmas. But when Dave wakes up on Christmas Day night he looks to Dogger for comfort but he’s no where to be found. Can they find Dogger before it’s too late? This story is so beautifully illustrated and full of so much love and warmth on every page. In a year where we’ve realised how easily we’ve taken so much of life for granted, it celebrates the simple joy that can be had by sharing Christmas with family and friends. An absolute treasure of a book, I absolutely loved it.
Following on from the magnificent, ‘How Winston Delivered Christmas,’ Alex T. Smith is back with another fabulously fun and festive book that is guaranteed to entertain and engage younger readers. This hilarious take on the, Twelve Days of Christmas introduces the reader to Eloise and her overly generous grandma who lives to shower her in lavish gifts. At first things seem as normal but when snorkelling squirrels and balancing bears get involved you know you’re in for a heap of laughter. As ever Alex’s illustrations are intricately detailed and completely exquisite with each spread being a pure delight. This is an absolute joy to read aloud and you won’t be able to read without a giggle or two and the twist at the end is a really corker. Destined to be a Christmas classic, this is a must have gift for the child in your life.
‘A Dancer’s Dream,’ is a beautiful picture book adaptation of Katherine Woodfine’s, ‘Casse-Noisette,’ in the Winter Magic anthology. Based on the true story of The Nutcracker ballet, we meet Stana whose dreams come true when she is chosen to play Clara but her happiness is tinged with sadness as her sister Olga is gravely ill. Desperate not to let everyone down she tries to immerse herself in the ballet but finds her thoughts tangled up with the fate of her sister. Can Stana overcome her fears and dance like she’s never danced before? Katherine’s brings her gift of magical and atmospheric storytelling to life in this stunning book. It’s a truly thoughtful and heart-warming story, perfect for emerging readers or to share this Christmas. Exquisitely produced with delicately beautiful illustrations by Lizzy Stewart, it is completely enchanting and magical read.
I don’t tend to read very many books for grown-ups but I can never resist a book from Maggie O’ Farrell, so I was intrigued to discover that she had written her first book for children. ‘Where Snow Angels Go,’ is the extraordinary story of Sylvie who wakes up one night to discover a presence in her room, her very own snow angel that she unknowingly created and it’s here to save her life. She shouldn’t be able to see this being but somehow she can and despite being told she will forget about this night, she never does. Her mind is consumed by worrying about all of those people close to her, who have never created a snow angel, who will look after them? I loved how this story was completely magical but told in an honest and unsentimental way and still it brought tears to my eyes. It manages to be both witty and thoughtful and gives us an insight into the mind of Sylvie who has faced grave danger but doesn’t hide away from it in her quest to protect those she loves. Daniela’s delicate and exquisite illustrations are perfect for this story, she captures the wonder of Sylvie beautifully. This is a story that deserves to be loved and treasured.
It’s Christmas Eve and Santa has a real life Christmas emergency. He’s received a letter from a little girl called Amy but it got burnt coming down the chimney and Santa can’t see what she wants. Despite thinking his very hardest, he can’t work out what she needs. He enlists the help from his friends, the elves, the polar bears and the reindeers. Will he manage to find the perfect gift in time for Christmas Day? Packed with letters and gifts to open this wonderfully interactive book is bound to delight younger readers. It is one of those stories that will be shared over and over again. Emma’s bold and vibrant illustrations are completely joyful, sprinkled with humour and a touch of Christmas magic this book is completely irresistible.
Yuval Zommer’s books are a masterclass in capturing the beauty and wonder of nature, in ‘ A Thing Called Snow,’ he brings this talent to this lyrical story about the changing of the season. Fox and Hare were born in the spring, grew up in the summer and became best of friends by the autumn. When they hear a whisper of something called winter and with it snow they are curious to know what this thing might be. Together they set off on a quest to find it and on their way they meet many creatures and experience the true beauty of the Arctic. This book is a true celebration of nature seen through the eyes of those who have never experienced this new season emerging before beyond. Each spread is stunningly illustrated in a soft palette capturing the beauty of the natural world. A gorgeous book for curious minds, perfect for exploring and sharing.
Thank you to to Macmillan, Oxford Children’s Books, Penguin, Simon and Schuster and Walker 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.