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Full of the best Christmassy reads, our Festive Fiction selection has books for all ages. Most of our books have an expert review and an extract to download, to help you choose the perfect gift this Christmas.
Winnie and Wilbur are so excited to be getting ready for Christmas! There’s a lot to do. Putting up the decorations, baking biscuits, making the Christmas pudding and, most importantly of all, sending their letters to the North Pole. At last it is Christmas Eve and Santa’s arrival goes very horribly wrong. Luckily, Winnie has just the right magic trick to solve the problem and soon Winnie and Wilbur are on the most wonderful adventure of their lives. There’s magic and excitement on every page of this festive book including a delightful pop-up surprise.
‘‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house, not a creature was stirring … except for one mouse.’ Tracey Turner takes the opening lines of Clement C Moore’s Christmas classic and reimagines it with a cheerful, red-suited mouse taking Santa’s part. As the other little mice doze, dreaming of cheesecake, he takes to the skies in a sleigh pulled by beetles. Squeezing through a crack in the wall of the mouse hole he distributes presents, filling the little mice stockings with toys and crackers and plenty of cheese before flying off into the night with the traditional ‘Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!’ Jenny Løvlie’s illustrations are thoroughly charming, from the opening image of the little mice asleep in their cosy matchbox beds, to the friendly little beetles (‘On Stiggy! On, Twiggy! On, Scatter and Skitter!’) and the final image of the sleigh silhouetted against the moon. A magical twist on an old favourite, delightful to read aloud and full of Christmas spirit.
If ever there was a picture book to be enjoyed in the long winter nights, when there’s a crackle of frost in the air, it’s this one. Snow Ghost comes shimmering out of the air, she soars over hills and woods, darkening as evening draws in, searching for somewhere to settle. Nowhere seems to offer a welcome and she’s lonely and getting tired when on top of a hill she spots a small farm with two happy children in the garden. They all play together in the snow until night falls completely and as the children go in, Snow Ghost settles on the roof, home at last. Snow Ghost is a magical creation in Diana Mayo’s illustrations, floating across the pages almost not there, yet a tangible presence, and we look down with her on the valleys, fields and quiet little town below. The sense of stillness – then joy and hope – is perfectly captured in Tony Mitton’s text which is as graceful and airy as Snow Ghost herself. A perfect story for this time of year, a celebration of hope and belonging.
Celebrity Dad, Tom Fletcher brings Christmas and Dinosaurs together in a warm hearted, rollickingly magical story inspired by his love of both. Young William Trundle loves dinosaurs better than anything else in the world and all he wants for Christmas is a dinosaur – a real one if at all possible. William and his dad love Christmas too especially this year when things have not been going too well. Waking up on Christmas Eve William finds the amazing Christmasaurus in his bedroom, and is soon off on a dazzling adventure full of snow and elves and flying reindeer and Santa Claus himself. Packed full of warmth, this is a story that will delight all readers and especially those who love Christmas. ~ Julia Eccleshare
Clever, funny and on occasion just plain daft, this is the perfect stocking filler for kids and Terry Pratchett fans alike. Open the pages and find eleven short stories which have been fabulously illustrated by Mark Beech. The text marches up hill and down dale, in between, over and under the illustrations, shouting, bursting, capering across the page so the story and illustrations become a glorious Christmas pudding mix of a read, give it a stir and get ready to duck as the tales take flight. The stories made me chuckle, in fact as soon as I had read the first offering, ‘Father Christmas’s Fake Beard’, I promptly insisted my husband read it too (it’s always the sign of a good book when I do that!). Yes this is a kids book, and yes I fully expect that adults will get just as much enjoyment from the stories as the children. A Terry Pratchett book was always on my Christmas list, I treat each and every one of them with love… set a new fan in motion, or delight a well established one - this is a proper little gem.
You can rely on Sue Hendra and Paul Linnet to put a fresh and funny take on the festive season. The creators of Supertato have another surprising, comic central character in this super-silly story: a rogue Christmas tree! All the other houses have a decorated Christmas tree in their window – the one at number 32 is pink – but at number 34 the tree has put its foot down and is refusing to play its part. The baubles are in despair, pleading with it to get into its pot and play its part, to no avail. Fortunately, the tree is as vain as it is stubborn, and not too bright either, and the decorations find a way to trick it into behaving. Where else will you be able to enjoy the sight of baubles and tinsel chasing a Christmas tree round the house? Told in rollicking rhyme this is a Christmas must-have.
November 2021 Book of the Month | Everything that is wonderful about Christmas (and some things that aren’t!) is thrillingly spun about in this deliciously magical and madcap adventure. Homeless Blanche has never had any real Christmas but when the mysterious Rinki gives her a magical bauble and some mince pies on Christmas Day everything changes. Rinki and Blanche are firm friends forever and together they are about to rewrite the Santa story. Santa Claus, elf magic, delicious Christmas food and drink, and a wonderful sleigh ride are all thrown into the mix as a very merry Christmas for all – except the sinister Mr Krampus – follows.
A seasonal sequel to the beloved Dogger | Forty-three years after the publication of Dogger, where we first met Dave and his very precious toy dog, 93-year-old Shirley Hughes has gifted a new generation of children an equally beautiful story, which I am quite sure that parents and teachers who grew up with Dogger will relish reading to their children. Dogger of course was a huge success and won not only the prestigious Kate Greenaway Medal but was voted by the public in 2007, their favourite winner of the medal in 50 years of the annual award. In this sequel we see that the family has increased to include toddler Joe and Dave is a little older too and his taste in toys is changing, but Dogger is still taken to bed every night and is as important as ever. Big sister Bella still has her teddies as well, but tells Father Christmas in her letter that she did not want any more ‘because she had seven already’. I love all the little references back to the original story where, as I am sure you all remember, Bella heroically gave up a big new teddy that she had won, so that she could reclaim the lost Dogger for Dave. We suspect that people have been buying her teddies ever since to make up for it! It will probably come as no surprise that Dogger goes missing again and in such a way that will be instantly recognisable in every home and strike terror into every parent’s heart! Needless to say, it is Bella that saves the day again and all ends well. Even though we must assume the book is set in the 70’s, it has a timeless quality and it’s nice to see a Dad helping with the cooking, childcare and cleaning. Shirley’s beautifully naturalistic style captures every nuance of body language as the family makes their preparations for Christmas. A Christmas full of nostalgic detail, family traditions and kindnesses which remind us all of things that really matter. A wonderful Christmas classic in the making!
Thea’s Christmas visit to Norway to try and connect with her absent father, Henry, looks set to be a disaster. Despite her hopes that her father will understand her yearning to be a writer and her need for a typewriter, Henry seems only interested in his new family and his woodwork. All Thea’s hopes are dashed. How she longs to go home to her mum and all their family Christmas traditions. But when Thea befriends a sleeping bear whom she has disturbed she unleashes a wonderful, wintery adventure. Finding friends who understand her love for the bear and her belief that it is harmless, Thea works out an ambitious plan to confuse the hunters and save the bear. The result is a many layered adventure story of courage, love and imagination.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month November 2020 | Time travelling with Alex and Ruby is always the greatest fun. This time this time they fall through Aunt Joanna’s magic mirror and find themselves about to celebrate Christmas in 1873. There’s lots to learn about just what a Victorian Christmas might be like including cutting down your own Christmas tree from the wood and playing a completely different kind of charades. And there is also an exciting family adventure as Ruby uses her modern knowledge, gleaned on a school trip, to prevent Cousin Edith being sent to a terrible school where is might die! Sally Nicholls story dashes along, brim-full of action and with a huge cast of characters. The result is an exciting read with never a dull moment! You can find more wintry & festive stories in our Best Books for Kids this Christmas collection!
November 2021 Book of the Month | Longlisted for the UKLA Book Award 2022 ages 11-14 | The Silent Stars Go By is a riveting read-in-one-sitting experience driven by compelling characters who leap off the page, not least the young woman at its heart, an unmarried secretarial student who’s forced to give up her baby during WWI. The novel is also underpinned by a superb sense of social history, with evocative details of post-war village life nestling within the bigger story, and - as might be expected of the author of Things a Bright Girl Can Do - it’s threaded with feminist themes. It’s 1919, Christmas is on the horizon and two years have passed since nineteen-year-old Margot was forced to give up her baby for her parents to raise as their own. She was only fifteen when she and Harry fell madly in love ahead of him being called up. The magic of their time together is evoked in all its tingling passion, contrasting with Margot’s present-day torments. It hurts when little James calls her mother “Mummy”, and she doesn’t know how she can continue to keep James a secret from Harry, who’s returned to the village after recuperating on the Isle of Wight. The flashbacks to Margot’s time on the maternity ward are particularly poignant and, of course, the reason she has to endure this unbearable situation is due to the fact that she lives in a world in which “the girl is the one whose honour is defiled or whatever rot they spout” whereas “the boy is just being a boy”. Coupled with that wider context, Margot’s vicar father is a man who “forgave drunks and tramps and fallen women and the men who tried to steal the lead from the church roof. But he couldn’t forgive her.” Realising that “things couldn’t go on like this,” Margot decides to confront her fears amidst the rare glamour of a ball on New Year’s Eve.
Alex and Ruby are back in their fourth time-slip adventure, tumbling back into 1947! From multi-award-winning author Sally Nicholls comes another brilliant action-packed adventure for 7+ readers, beautifully illustrated by Rachael Dean. When siblings Alex and Ruby tumble back through the mirror, they find themselves in the freezing-cold winter of 1947. Food is scarce in the aftermath of the Second World War and life at Applecott House is hard. As Alex and Ruby discover they must solve the mystery of a missing family heirloom to ever have hopes of returning home, their adventure takes them trekking across the snow and treacherous ice on a perilous treasure hunt. Will they make it home and back to the present day or will they be stuck in 1947? Full of action and humour and featuring exciting black-and-white illustrations throughout, this is another superb time-slip story which brilliantly brings history to life as part of an adventure.
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