A Christmas Wreath of books

This has been an amazing year for Christmas books and this is just a small selection of those that are available

“A Tree for Christmas (Winnie the Pooh)” written by Jane Riorden is a charming little story about how Christmas came to the Hundred Acre Wood, with a little help from Christopher Robin and the wonderful animals in the wood.  It is in a miniature format which is disappointing but it is still worth reading to the young ones in your life.

“A Newborn Child” by Jackie Morris is a totally wonderful, magical retelling of the Christmas story.  the author has created the most sumptuous illustrations and the text is short but totally reflective of the images.  The name Jackie Morris always means quality and she has maintained her high standards with this book.  It is a real classic.

“Bah! Humbug” by Michael Rosen and Tony Ross is another way of re-telling the story from “A Christmas Carol”. Harry is playing the role of Scrooge in the school play and desperately wants his dad to attend, but that is beginning to look very unlikely.  There is a very poignant and yet uplifting contrast between the plot of the play and the everyday life that harry is having to cope with.  Yet another one to add to my Christmas shelf.

“One Christmas Wish” by Katherine Rundell and Emily Sutton is a beautifully written and illustrated story about young Theo who has been left at home on Christmas Eve while his parents are both still at work.  When he thinks he sees a shooting star he makes a wish that he could have some friends for company and that is when the magic starts.  The book is  truly lovely object and has a feel of the 1950s about it;  the paper is thick and creamy, the illustrations are of the period and the colour palette is bright but without the harshness that is often found today.


“The Girl who saved Christmas” by Matt Haig is the final part of his trilogy about how Father Christmas took on his role.  A fantastic ending and a reminder that we have to ‘believe’ if we are to keep the magic of Christmas

“I killed Father Christmas” by Anthony McGowan and Chris Riddell is a very funny story of what happens when people misunderstand what they hear. This is a delightful story from Barrington Stoke with matching colour illustrations from our previous Children’s Laureate.

“The Midnight Peacock” by Katherine Woodfine is the really great finale to her series about Sinclair’s Department Store. Our heroines Sophie and Lil find themselves spending the holiday at Winter Hall but danger and intrigue seems to have followed them.  A cracking read and thankfully there is a hint that the girls will be back for more adventures in the future.

“Jingle Bells” by Tracey Corderoy and Steve Lenton is a collection of stories about Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam, with the first one being about their attempt to save Santa’s sleigh after it is taken.  This is great fun as always.

“The untold story of Father Christmas” by Alison and Mike Battle with Lauren A Mills is another version of how this mythical character became the person we know today.  The cover is sumptuous and the illustrations are beautiful, with soft and glowing colours and a feel of Scandinavian scenery.  This is for KS2 children probably, but is a great read for telling to younger ones.

“Let it glow” by Owen Gildersleeve is a charming look at what a child sees around him on his way hoe from the town and with a very precious package.  The illustrations are based on very intricate paper collage and this gives a 3-D effect.There is also a battery at the back of the book, which provides lights  at different points in the story.  The very young children will love this.

“The Nutcracker (The story of the orchestra)” illustrated by Jessica Courtney-Tickle  is one for those who love their ballet.  This is a very straightforward re-telling of the story but with the magical addition of small excerpts of music; you press the relevant button and are transported to the performance.  It would make a wonderful gift for someone about to attend their first performance.


I know that this is late for the festive season but it will give you a head start for the coming year!  have a wonderful time reading and talking about books.

Spring has sprung

One of the joys of spring is finding out what tempting examples of picture books are heading our way.  this year has been no exception and there are loads of fantastic picture books for all ages.  These are just a few of the ones that have taken my eye in the last few months and I hope to be able to bring another selection to you in the near future.

2016-04-14 14.49.25-1

Andersen Press, 9781783442027

“Lucinda Belinda Melinda McCool” by Jeanne Willis and Tony Ross is very much a cautionary tale in the style of Hilaire Belloc or Stanley Holloway’s ‘Albert and the Lion’ and from one of my favourite writing and illustration teams.  Lucinda Belinda is a truly irritating character, who sees it as her duty to beautify those around her and to comment on what people look like.  However when she meets a monster she discovers someone who will not be changed and she learns a very hard lesson.  This is not a story for really young readers, but KS2 will love it.

2016-05-08 16.04.54

Walker, 9781406362473

“Albert’s Tree” by Jenni Desmond is a gentle and humorous story of a bear and his adventures after he wakes from his long winter’s sleep.  It is also about not being scared of the unknown and making friends when you can.  It is beautifully illustrated and a great read for the early years.

2016-05-08 16.05.56

Otter-Barry, 9781910959473

“The Seal Children” by Jackie Morris.  this is a truly beautiful piece of art, something that you always find with Jackie Morris’s books.  It is a story about a small fishing village in Wales and about a Selkie (seal woman) who marries a local fisherman.  There is a melody to the words that link it to the movement of the waves on the shore and you have a real sense of the environment and the characters.

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Andersen Press, 9781783443840

“The adventures of Beekle, the Unimaginary Friend” by  Dan Santat is a magical tale of an imaginary friend called Beekle who goes on an adventure to try and find his one true friend.  The illustrations are beautifully drawn and keep you really engaged with the story.  this is all about friendship and the importance that it has in our lives.

2016-04-21 11.02.56

Frances Lincoln, 9781847807601

“The world famous Cheese Shop break-in” by Sean Taylor and Hannah Shaw.  This is the second book that I have seen recently that featured lots and lots of cheese.  On this occasion the rats are trying to break in to a cheese shop but find that there are lots of problems getting in their way.  The twist at the end will have everyone smiling.

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Otter-Barry, 9781910959527

“I will not wear Pink” by Joyce and Polly Dunbar  is an extravaganza of thoughts about the colour pink, but given that the main characters are pigs it is also about being happy with the skin you are in. The language and illustrations are exuberant and full of rhyme.   This is one of the first titles from the new Otter-Barry imprint and with Janetta Otter-Barry in the driving seat we are in for some wonderful titles.   Really great for story times I am sure.


2016-02-25 18.06.11

Andersen Press, 9781783443383

“Life is Magic” by Meg McLaren is a truly wonderful story of a magician, his assistant Houdini and the rest of the group (all of whom are rabbits).  When disaster happens and Monsieur Lapin (the magician) is turned into a rabbit it is up to Houdini (also a rabbit) to save the day. You really need to suspend you disbelief with this book but the illustrations and story are fantastic and will really appeal to young children.

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Andersen Press, 9781783443390

“All aboard for the Bobo Road” by Stephen Davies and Christopher Corr.  this is a truly exuberant story of life in West Africa.  It is full of colour and movement as well as being a window into the life that people are leading.   The journey itself is set in Burkino Faso and you could use the book to introduce children to work about this part of Africa. On top of all this the book is also a counting story as we see the luggage added and then removed from the bus as it travels along.

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Andersen Press, 9781783443635

“Where my feet go” by Birgitta Sif is a look at a day in the life of a small creature, but seen from the perspective of where his feet take him.  It is a gentle and joyful story that is great for reading to the youngest children.

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Little Tiger Press, 9781848690394

“The first Slodge”by Jeanne Willis and Jenni Desmond takes us back to the beginning of the world and how we all had to learn together and understand that the world is for caring and sharing.  This is a very simple story with a very profound message.  A really great read.

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Bloomsbury, 9781408854976

“The Cloudspotter” by Tom McLaughlin is the story of Franklin, a young lonely boy with a love of cloudspotting.  then a scruffy dog starts following him around and even wants to join in with Franklin’s adventures.  The charming ending when the two characters realise the importance of the friendship they have begun to share will appeal to everyone.

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Little Tiger Press, 9781848691933

“Nibbles, the book  Monster” by Emma Yarlett.  When Nibbles the book monster escapes from his cage he creates havoc everywhere. He keeps eating into other books like Goldilocks and Little red Riding Hood and proceeds to change the stories.  The physical book is wonderful with flaps, cut-outs and books within books.  A fantastic read for children and adults alike.

Happy reading to everyone!





Young and Fun books

I thought it was time for another round up of some beautiful and fun picture books that I have received over the last few months. The first of these is

Specs for Rex by Yasmeen Ismail

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Bloomsbury, 9781408836972

A really great story for all children, but especially for those who have something that makes them different from those around them.  This is the story of Rex, who needs glasses but hates to wear them as it makes him different.  He tries all sorts of ways to hide his specs, but then they help him find something that his teacher is lost and he is made to feel good.  The illustrations are vivid and full of energy; they use watercolours and have that naivety which we associate with the work of young people, but of course there is an underlying skill and complexity which really brings the illustrations alive.  This is one of those special books that hopefully will become a classic for the future.

The Dawn Chorus by  Suzanne Baron

2014-08-27 14.49.54


I really loved this charming story about a young bird called Peep.  One day he wakes to hear other birds singing and he is invited to join them in the Dawn Chorus, but no matter how hard he tries, he cannot wake up in time.  It is only when he meets another bird like himself that all is explained – he is a Nightingale and they are meant to sing in the evening.  Beautiful illustrations make this great for telling to young children and the message about having individual gifts and skills is subtly woven into the story.


Smelly Louie by Catherine Rayner

2014-08-27 14.49.16


This is the latest from the award winning illustrator Catherine Rayner.  It is the story of Louie and his endeavours to rid himself of the smell of roses and apple blossom, after his owner has given him a bath.  As always this is produced in the author’s distinctive style, which fits so well with the plot of the book.  It reminds me of earlier favourites on a similar theme, including the What-a-Mess  stories of Frank Muir and the tales of  Harry the dirty dog by Gene Zion.  I particularly love the touches of gold on the cover of the book, very luxurious.




The Flying Bath by Julia Donaldson and David Roberts

2014-07-19 11.48.01


It is always great to have a new book from the prolific and very popular Julia Donaldson, but when the illustrations are by the lovely David Roberts then you know you are in for a treat.  This is the tale of how the bath toys spend their day, travelling around the world in a magical flying bath tub and saving a variety of creatures.  The book is full of colour and action, and I love the multicoloured wings of the bath tub; is this a slight ‘homage’ to Elmer perhaps?




Snow by Walter de la Mare, illustrated by Carolina Rabei

This really is a beautiful evocation of a winter that we all hold in our imaginations, even though the reality is so different for many of us.  The poem is by one of the best known children’s poets of the early 20th century, and his stories for children won the Carnegie medal in 1947.  The illustrator has taken a very short work and really added to it with her simple colour palette and a quite retro 1950s feel to the background.  I can never have enough books about winter and Christmas and this is one to keep and read again every year as part of the build up to Christmas, just like the Muppet Christmas carol on DVD.

Faber and faber, 9780571312191

Faber and faber,

Frances Lincoln, 9781847804327

Frances Lincoln,









How the Library (NOT the Prince) saved Rapunzel by Wendy Meddour and Rebecca Ashdown

For those of us who have been involved with libraries for most of their working lives it is wonderful to see the support that we are getting in this time of hardship and with this book Wendy really sings the praises of the library and what it can do to to widen our horizons.  This is a picture book, so it is aimed at young readers in a way that they can appreciate; the text is in rhyme and the illustrations are bright and vibrant .  It is full of energy and the humour that I have come to expect from Wendy’s work, having read some of the Wendy Quill books in the past.

Made by Raffi,   by  Craig Pomranz and Margaret Chamberlaimn

there seems to have been an increase in the number of books showing ‘diversity’ in its many forms and I have noted several about sewing and knitting particularly with boys as the main characters.  For older children there is Boys don’t knit by T.S  Easton and for younger readers we have this book .  It is about a young boy, Raffi, who enjoys sewing and knitting, but feels he has to keep it secret in order to avoid the teasing and bullying which could ensue from such un-boyish hobbies.  it is a bright cheerful affirmation of wanting to be yourself and not just following the crowd.

Frances Lincoln, 9781847804334

Frances Lincoln,