The best books for kids this Christmas
Bamboozled by the huge number of new children’s books out there, but determined to put some reading material in your little ones’ stockings? Here’s a Christmas guide to the best new books for babies to ten-year-olds.
How to be a World Explorer
The all-terrain training manual for kids, packed with essential tips and fun facts on survival in the great outdoors. The book features explorer essentials such as how to start a campfire, map reading and navigation by the stars.
Buy How to be a World Explorer now
A fun and fascinating guide to the world’s hottest, biggest, scariest, and most interesting phenomena. The book contains informative and funny facts on wildlife, history and geography; everything from the world’s most extreme weather to the deepest sea creatures.
Buy Extreme Planet now
Baby’s Very First Noisy Book: Christmas, illustrated by Stella Baggott
Cheery visuals – of snow-bound landscapes, cutesy robins and Santa on his sleigh – combine with joyful bursts of jingly jangly music to make this is a lovely introduction to the festive season for those who prefer their turkey pureed.
Buy Baby's Very First Noisy Book now
The Big Book of Words and Pictures by Ole Könnecke
The same old pictures of teddies, dolls and potties fill most of the vocabulary books for little ones learning to talk. The charmingly witty illustrations of this one make it that bit more special. Like a modern Richard Scary, German illustrator Könnecke populates his world with dressed-up animals going about human business. Look out for the white-flare-sporting Elvis elephant, the yoga-posing mouse and the piglet being shot out of a cannon.
Buy The Big Book of Words and Pictures now
King Jack and the Dragon by Peter Bently
'Raaahhh!' Toddler monarch Jack and his band of mini knights have a lot of den building, sword brandishing and dragon slaying to cram in before bath-time. But who are the figures lurking in the dark...? The illustrations by Helen Oxenbury (who created the pictures in the hugely popular We’re All Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen) make this picture book for those two and over truly heart-warming.
Buy King Jack and the Dragon now
Stuck by Oliver Jeffers
Floyd gets his kite stuck in a tree. There’s nothing strange about that. But then he gets his shoes, cat and ladder stuck in there too. By the time the kitchen sink, the milkman and an orang-utan are wedged in the branches, things are getting out of hand. Let’s face it, the best bedtime stories offer a little something for parents too – and, with its mischievous humour and gloriously quirky images, the latest tale from the writer-illustrator behind the bestselling The Heart and Bottle does just that. It’s bound to provoke pre-schooler – and parent – giggles.
Buy Stuck now
I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen
Bear has lost his favourite hat. Fox, frog, rabbit, tortoise, snake and a creature that looks like a beaver claim that they haven’t seen it. But one of them is lying...More toddler humour, this impish picture book has a twist at the end. Vegetarians or children with pet rabbits might not like it. Everyone else will snort with laughter.
Buy I Want My Hat Back now
The Helpful Elves by August Kopisch
For vintage charm this German folk tale, aimed (approximately) at four to seven-year-olds, is hard to beat. Featuring nostalgic, early twentieth century illustrations by Beatrice Braun-Fock, it tells the story of the lazy people of Cologne, who let elves do all their work while they sleep. The tiny creatures tend horses, bake bread, make the sozzled winemaker’s wine and sew the Lord Mayor’s coat. One day, however, the tailor’s wife spies on them. All does not end happily ever after. The cut-out elves who sit on top of each page pout, gurn and laugh gleefully at the antics within.
Buy The Helpful Elves now
The Misadventures of Winnie The Witch by Laura Owen
Batty, scatty and irrepressibly hilarious, Winnie is a witch like no other. In this colourful collection of eight stories, she opens a reinforced knickers shop; befriends a bat she’s trying to cook in a burger (to be served with ‘pickled antchovies’, ‘squid in jelly’ and ‘sun-dried lice’); and goes fishing with Stinky Stan the fisherman on his boat, The Crabby Roger. Laura Owen’s effervescently playful language and Korky Paul’s characterful illustrations will hit the spot for boys and girls aged five and over.
Buy The Misadventures of Winnie The Witch now
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: Pop-Up Book by Roald Dahl
Unbelievably, this is the first ever pop-up version of Dahl’s beloved classic. And it’s a gem. Featuring fabulous new illustrations from Quentin Blake and some wonderful feats of paper engineering, it brings the story to a slightly younger audience: roughly those around six or seven. Flaps, fold-out sections and moveable tabs help tell the exuberantly funny (and actually quite cruel) story of four spoilt, selfish children and one honest and starving one visiting Willy Wonka’s confectionary fantasia. The paper trickery is particularly adept when it comes to the comeuppances of Charlie’s nemeses. Young readers will surely delight in pulling Augustus Gloop into the chocolate lake and pushing Veruca Salt down the rubbish chute.
Buy Charlie and the Chocolate Factory now
Ronny Rock Starring in Monster Cake Meltdown by Merryn Threadguld
Ronny Rock is the luckiest boy in town. His dad owns the local bakers, full of ‘yummical things to eat’. Disaster strikes one Friday when he’s left in the care of teenager Kieran – who dresses like an American rapper and can burp the ABC. Beside a flour sack Ronny finds a birthday cake order that his father has missed. And it’s for the next day. Ronny and Kieran set about making the most monstrous cake ever. Bruce Ingham’s wickedly inventive illustrations turn this fun story into a captivating one.
Buy Ronny Rock Starring in Monster Cake Meltdown now
Tollins II: Dynamite Tales by Conn Iggulden
Fairies for boys? You bet! Actually, Tollins might be small winged creatures, but they’d definitely take offence at being mistaken for their flutterier, more delicate cousins. They’re much tougher and sparkier. This set of three stories is perfect for boys (and girls!) aged between seven and ten who love a bit of fantasy and action. Subversive, ironic and full of dragonfly racing, armed invasions and deadly humans, they are a long way from a lot of the twee fairyland fodder out there. The book looks wonderful too, thanks to Lizzy Duncan’s vibrant visuals.
Buy Tollins II: Dynamite Tales now
Magic Beans: A Handful of Fairy Tales From The Storybag
As Einstein once said: ‘If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales’. This anthology is made up of retellings of age-old stories by some of the biggest names in kids’ fiction – including former children’s laureate Jacqueline Wilson and His Dark Materials author Philip Pullman. Published separately previously, this is the first time they’ve been collected together. Perennial favourites like Rapunzel (by Wilson) and Rumpelstiltskin (by poet Kit Wright) sit alongside lesser known tales, like Grey Wolf, Prince Jack and the Firebird (by the wonderful Alan Garner).
Buy Magic Beans: A Handful of Fairy Tales From The Storybag now
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Cabin Fever by Jeff Kinney
Out in mid November, the latest instalment of Jeff Kinney’s smash hit comic series is bound to feature on Christmas wish-lists everywhere. Packed full of gags, wry humour and daft misadventures, the first five books have so far sold over 50 million copies globally. Kids the world over, it seems, identify with video-game-loving slacker Greg Heffley – the self-proclaimed wimpy kid of the title.
Buy Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Cabin fever now
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
A beautifully-packaged gift edition of Lewis Carroll’s mind-boggling story of rabbit holes, grinning cats, crazed tea parties and tearful mock turtles, this would make an extra special present for those aged eight and over. Packaged in a case decorated with swirling red foil playing card motifs, it includes all of Sir John Tenniel’s exquisite original drawings in full colour. At £25, it might not be cheap, but it’s definitely a keeper. And in all their glorious eccentricity, Alice’s adventures are guaranteed to enrich the imaginary world of anyone who reads them.
Buy Alice's Adventures in Wonderland now
Sapphire Battersea by Jacqueline Wilson
Humongously popular author Jacqueline Wilson (of Tracy Beaker fame) has got another hit on her hands with this sequel to Hetty Feather – about a girl in an orphanage in Victorian London. It’s stormed up the book charts since it was published at the end of September. Hetty Feather becomes Sapphire Battersea and dares to hope her new name will also mean a new life, beyond the confines of the dreaded Foundling Hospital. All, obviously, does not go to plan – meaning Wilson can let loose with the page-turning drama she does so well. Don’t be fooled by Nick Sharratt’s bright cartoonish cover though, there is some darkness in this historical novel that those under nine might struggle with.
Buy Sapphire Battersea now
Lost Christmas by David Logan
Goose, an orphaned 11-year-old, meets a mysterious stranger on Christmas Eve. Anthony knows everything about everyone else, but nothing about himself. He starts to transform Goose’s devastated life. Set in modern Manchester this pre-teen novel from debut author Logan is not without its grittiness, but is ultimately magical and uplifting. Watch out for the BBC drama starring Eddie Izzard as Anthony at Christmas!
Buy Lost Christmas now