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Books for kids this Christmas

PUBLISHED: 09:00 30 November 2011

Christmas top ten books. Picture: Denise Bradley

Christmas top ten books. Picture: Denise Bradley

Archant copyright 2011

It wouldn't be Christmas without a new book and there are plenty of fabulous reads for children. STACIA BRIGGS finds the best new books for children this Christmas.

There’s nothing quite like escaping into the pages of an absorbing book. Although electronics have taken a dominant role in the entertainment industry, a computer game just can’t compete with your child’s imagination.

Whether you’re buying a Christmas book for a teenager or a toddler, a boy or a girl, a reluctant reader or a book-worm, we have ideas for children of all ages.

Even My Ears Are Smiling, Michael Rosen, illustrations by Babette Cole, £12.99

There can be few parents of young children who don’t know We’re Going On A Bear Hunt off by heart – in my house, we managed to wear out three copies of the well-loved book! This is a great introduction to poetry for children, with Rosen’s poems lifting the lid on life while Cole’s illustrations perfectly partner the words. Poems are funny, thought-provoking and accessible for children. And this book contains a CD of the author reading the poems aloud, which is great for the car or bedtime.

The Gruffalo Touch and Feel Book, Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler, £9.99

Can anyone resist the charms of the Gruffalo? In this clever new book, the very youngest of readers can meet the Gruffalo and feel his terrible tusks, his knobbly knees and his purple prickles. There are touch and feel elements on every page and children can meet all the characters from the Deep Dark Wood. Perfect for small paws.

Lost and Found Pop-Up Edition, Oliver Jeffers, paper engineering by Corina Fletcher, £14.99

This is an absolutely beautiful version of an enchanting book about friendship and love. When a little boy finds a penguin on his doorstep, he decides that it must be lost and sets out to return him to his home in the South Pole. The pair embark on a journey to the icy land far away, but when they get there, the boy discovers that maybe home wasn’t what the penguin was looking for after all. The pop-up elements of this book are charming, from the house on the first page where the boy moves to open the door to the duck floating in the bath tub. Beautiful, although if your child is very young, you may need to supervise them until they understand how delicate the paper engineering is. For children aged over three.

Charlie and Lola My Very Best Sizzles Book and Toy Gift Set, Lauren Child, £10.99

Charlie’s little sister Lola loves dogs. One day, the pair go to the park with Lotta, Marv and his dog, Sizzles. Lola says: “Marv, honestly, we do promise honestly to look after your dog…” and so the story begins. This lovely gift set contains the laugh-out-loud Charlie and Lola story We Honestly Can Look After Your Dog in a mini picture-book format and an adorable Sizzles plush toy for your child to play with as they read.

Snuff: A Discworld Novel, Terry Pratchett, £18.99

Terry Pratchett has enthralled millions of fans worldwide with his wonderfully funny satires set in the unbelievably imaginative Discworld, a universe remarkably similar to our own. In this latest outing, Lady Sybil has lured her husband Sam Vimes on a well-deserved holiday away from the crime and grime of Ankh-Morpork. But for the commander of the City Watch, a vacation in the country is anything but relaxing. The tea, the muck, the fresh air and birdsong – it’s all a bit much for a cynical, city born-and-bred copper. Then he finds a body. Fans of the master of fantasy will love this book, which is suitable for confident readers from 11 upwards.

The Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm, Taschen, £24.99

The famous tales are 200 years old, but feel as fresh as the day they were written. This sumptuous new collection from Taschen includes all the classics, such as Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty and Hansel and Gretel, alongside illustrations by some of the most famous illustrators from the 1820s to the 1950s. In addition to the beautiful vintage pictures there are also wonderful silhouettes throughout the book, bringing an extra edge of magic to what must be the best-loved stories of all time. Other stories in the fairytale collection include The Frog Prince, The Wolf and the Seven Little Goats, Rapunzel, Little Red Riding Hood, The Shoe-maker and the Elves, Tom Thumb’s Travels, Rumpelstiltskin, Puss in Boots and The Star Coins. A gift that you can share with your child and will keep forever.

Marshmallow Skye: The Chocolate Box Girls, £10.99

Skye and Summer Tanberry are identical twins, and Skye loves her sister Summer more than anyone else in the world. They do everything together, but lately Skye’s been feeling like second-best – it’s the story of her life. And when her friend Alfie confesses he’s fallen not for her, but for Summer, it hurts. Skye wants to be her own person, but with an effortlessly cool twin, how can she? And will Skye ever step out of Summer’s shadow and find her own chance to shine?

The Fear, Charlie Higson, £12.99

Described as ‘The Lord of the Flies with zombies’, The Fear is the latest book in former UEA student and Fast Show star Charlie Higson’s impressive series for young teenagers. If you’ve got a reluctant reader at home that prefers fighting the dark side in video games, this may well be the book to tempt them back into the fold. This is the third book in The Enemy series and continues the terrifying story of a sickness which infects everyone over the age of 14. Mothers and fathers, older brothers and sisters and best friends are struck with the disease which sees them transform into zombies who are compelled to hunt – and eat – children. In The Feat, Dognut and the rest of his crew want to find their lost friends and set off on a deadly mission from the Tower of London to Buckingham Palace. But who are their friends and who is the enemy in this changed world? Full of suspense, enough gore to keep teenagers happy and the knowledge that this is just one of a six-part series: so if your young reader loves it, there’s more to come.


Steampunk! An Anthology of Fantastically Rich and Strange Stories, edited by Kelly Link and Gavin J Grant, £12.50.

If you’re not sure what steampunk is, your teenager may well be able to tell you. In the first major steampunk anthology for younger readers, 14 top storytellers push the genre’s mix of sci-fi fantasy, history and adventure in fascinating new directions. Imagine an alternate universe where romance and technology reign, where dreamers craft a world of automatons, clockworks, calculating machines and other marvels and you have a flavour of this spell-binding book. Stories are set in locations as diverse as Appalachia, ancient Rome, future Australia and an alternate California. Contributors include Garth Nix, Shawn Chen, Libba Bray, Holly Black and MT Anderson. Perfect for teenagers over 14.

Wonder Struck, Brian Selznick, £14.99

Playing with the form he created in his trail-blazing debut novel The Invention of Hugo Cabret, Selznick takes readers on a new journey in this book which is half novel and half picture book. Ben and Rose are 12 – Ben is 12 in 1977, Rose in 1927 – and their stories are told alongside each other. Both are hearing-impaired, both have major issues with their parents and both run away to Manhattan seeking something to make them feel complete. The two stories weave back and forth and ultimately intertwine in a twist that will leave you…Wonder Struck. This is a weighty novel which has more than 460 pages of original artwork and would suit and older, confident reader (if they can prise it out of your hands!).

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