Book review: Glitter, Gruffalos and a speedy Santa with Macmillan children’s books

Transport your child to a world of fun, fantasy and fairy tales this Christmas with a selection of Macmillan books simply overflowing with magic.

Monday, 1st December 2014, 9:00 am
Glitter, Gruffalos and a speedy Santa with Macmillan childrens books
Glitter, Gruffalos and a speedy Santa with Macmillan childrens books

Macmillan have a vast range of exciting books for children of all ages and as anticipation for the big day starts to grow, their book boffins have delivered a sackful of sparkling Christmas specials.

From Santa on a scooter and a beautiful retelling of the nativity story to a range of fantastic classics, a jazzed-up journal and a gorgeous Gruffalo gift set, mums and dads, and grannies and grandads, will be spoilt for choice.

Age 2 plus:

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Hello! Christmas by Angie Rozelaar

Push, pull, spin and learn… little ones can join in all the fun and joy of Christmas with this gorgeous, interactive board book.

Two small children are getting ready for Christmas Day with their parents and friends and every busy, colourful page offers tiny hands something to push, pull or spin. Watch the snowmen grow, the sledges slide and trees being trimmed, and then push the tab to see what happens on Christmas Eve. Have the children been good and will Santa come?

Hello! Christmas is a delightful novelty gift for pre-schoolers who love books that tell exciting stories through pictures. Chunky and hard-wearing, with magical illustrations, easy-to-handle mechanisms and a simple rhyming text, there can be no better way to look forward to the big day!

(Campbell, board book, £9.99)

The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo’s Child gift slipcase by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler

If you’re looking for a very special gift for a very special little person, this gorgeous Gruffalo slipcase set is the answer.

The stunning deluxe gift edition of The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo’s Child, two of the world’s favourite picture books, comes in a beautifully designed slipcase covered in shiny foil and featuring stunning new silhouette artwork by talented illustrator Axel Scheffler.

Inside are two high quality hardback editions of the classic stories with extra-thick paper and a luxury finish. Ideal gifts for any occasion from Christmas to christenings, the award-winning stories about a clever little mouse outwitting the creatures of the deep dark wood have been delighting children and adults the world over for more than 15 years.

Created by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler, the most successful ever picture book partnership, the books have been translated into over 50 languages and made into sell-out stage shows and Oscar-nominated films. And now these modern picture book classics are available together as one spectacular gift edition.

A dream come true for all Gruffalo fans…

(Macmillan, hardback, £25)

Whizzy Santa by Marion Billet

On your marks, get set, go… Santa is on his way!

Roll out all the fun of Christmastime with this exciting, innovative book which features Santa delivering his presents on a high-flying scooter-sleigh. And little ones can give him a push to make sure he gets there on time because Whizzy Santa is a book on wheels!

Santa’s reindeer have the flu so who will pull his sleigh this year? With a bit of elf-help and some sparkly magic, Santa transforms a broken toy into a fabulous scooter-sledge. Follow his journey through Christmas Eve, then close the book and push it along on its moving wheels to go on your own scooting adventure.

With busy, bright illustrations packed with detail, a fun story and an ingenious toy, this is destined to be on the move all year round.

(Campbell, board book, £6.99)

Bear and Hare: Snow! by Emily Gravett

Meet Bear and Hare… they’re the best of friends and love to have fun together but their adventures don’t always go to plan, and especially when it’s snowing!

The adorable animal pals are the stars of an enchanting picture book series for young children created by talented illustrator and author Emily Gravett.

Once youngsters enter the world of animal magician Gravett, they never want to return. Her award-winning stories are written and illustrated with warmth and a freewheeling sense of fun which tumbles out of every page.

In their new winter adventure, Bear and Hare head into the great outdoors to discover snow… lots of it! Tasting snowflakes, making snow angels, throwing snowballs (lots of snowballs) – there are so many games to play. Hare loves the snow, but perhaps Bear needs a little more convincing…

With its extra-thick, child-friendly pages and two lovable animal stars, this is a ‘cool’ choice for all little adventure seekers.

(Macmillan, hardback, £10.99)

The First Christmas by Rod Campbell

Teach your youngest children the real story of Christmas with this simple, warm-hearted retelling of the birth of Jesus.

Rod Campbell, creator of the bestselling Dear Zoo books, uses simple, easy-to-follow sentences and bright, appealing artwork to bring to life the wonder of Christmas for pre-school children. Published in a sturdy cased board book, with an eye-catching shiny star on the cover, The First Christmas looks set to become a family favourite, shared and loved at Christmas time year after year.

(Macmillan, board book, £5.99)

Age 4 plus:

Princess Mirror Belle and the Dragon Pox by Julia Donaldson and Lydia Monks

Dream team Julia Donaldson and Lydia Monks shine again in this gorgeous, glittery picture book which puts fiction favourite Princess Mirror Belle in a sparkling new spotlight.

The magical escapades of Ellen and her mischievous princess double return in picture book format with the same adventure, magic and glitter but specially produced for a younger age group. Author Julia Donaldson and illustrator Lydia Monks take us back to where Princess Mirror Belle’s escapades began in 2003 and it’s a fresh and fun-filled new formula.

This sumptuous book, which has glitter on every page and a marvellously magical story, is the perfect introduction to independent reading and a beautiful adaptation of the original Mirror-Belle story.

The perfect Christmas book for your little princess…

(Macmillan, hardback, £11.99)

Age 5 plus:

Christmas poems by Chosen by Gaby Morgan and decorated by Axel Scheffler

‘This is the week when Christmas comes,

Let every pudding burst with plums,

And every tree bear dolls and drums,

In the week when Christmas comes.’

Let anthologist Gaby Morgan and illustrator Axel Scheffler bring home the true spirit of Christmas in this wonderful collection of poems, all carefully selected for children.

These festive verses, some old favourites and some brand new, celebrate all the best things about Christmas from Father Christmas to snow, angels, reindeer, Christmas trees and, most important of all, Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus.

With charming, colourful decorations by Axel Scheffler, the book includes well-loved carols as well as the work of big names like William Blake, Christina Rossetti and T.S.Eliot, and more modern poets such as Brian Patten, Mike Harding and Wes Magee.

A traditional gift that will bring pleasure to all generations of the family.

(Macmillan, paperback, £5.99)

Age 7 plus:

Tony Robinson’s Weird World of Wonders: Pets

Tony Robinson’s Weird World of Wonders is getting bolder, more beastly… and even bigger!

A new larger format book, packed with wonderful, whimsical colour pictures, brings us an amazing collection of pets through time, including all the most important, funny, strange, amazing, entertaining, smelly bits. These are animals, but not as most of us know them.

So where did pets come from, just how clever are they and what on earth do people use them for? Madcap Tony has all the answers… including why Egyptians worshipped cats and even shaved off their eyebrows to mourn them when they died.

Everyone in the family will want to get their paws on this brilliant book and with the irrepressible Tony Robinson and his Curiosity Crew as your guides, you’ll never be short of fascinating facts, fun-filled history and weird wonders.

(Macmillan, hardback, £12.99)

Age 8 plus:

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland: Macmillan Classics Edition by Lewis Carroll

Lewis Carroll’s timeless adventures featuring Alice’s bizarre journey down a rabbit hole are just one of the latest range of Macmillan Classic Editions.

And what better introduction to the classics than the inquisitive Alice who finds wonder, adventure, confusion, madness, mayhem and cake on her journey underground?

Lewis Carroll’s famous story plays cleverly with logic, ensuring a lasting popularity with adults as well as with children. The narrative course and structure, characters and imagery have been hugely influential in both popular culture and literature since the book was first published by Macmillan in 1865.

Youngsters will love joining Alice as she tumbles into a strange world where curious things are normal and normal things are ‘curiouser.’ There is the chance to marvel at the classic nonsense poem The Jabberwocky and join in with Tweedledum and Tweedledee’s brilliant ode The Walrus and the Carpenter. In her extraordinary, timeless adventures, Alice meets a series of unforgettable characters, from the bossy White Rabbit to the grinning Cheshire Cat and the amazing Mad Hatter.

Gloriously illustrated with the original line drawings by John Tenniel, plates coloured by John Macfarlane, a ribbon marker and a foreword by Hilary McKay, this beautiful hardback edition is a truly special gift to treasure.

These sumptuous editions also include The Island of Adventure by Enid Blyton, The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling, The Milly-Molly-Mandy Storybook by Joyce Lankester Brisley and Gobbolino the Witch’s Cat by Catherine Rayner.

(Macmillan, hardback, £9.99)

Age 9 plus:

Anti Journal by David Sinden and Nikalas Catlow

So you thought keeping a journal was boring? Not any more…

Let your youngsters enjoy a bit of artistic anarchy this coming year with an outrageously creative ‘anti journal’ that will allow them to ‘think outside the box.’

Confused? It’s simple… the ever-inventive David Sinden and Nikalas Catlow have come up with an ingenious book that gives free rein to children’s imaginations. Anti Journal is no ordinary journal. It’s a freewheeling, free-thinking therapeutic route to personal and artistic discovery, packed with partially illustrated pages to complete in imaginative, unconventional ways.

For all ages, bedroom ‘journalers’, total novices or professional artists, this sturdy book is sheer creative bliss and the catalyst for discovering your own special twist. You can create, pattern, draw, paint, disguise, stain, collage, construct, colour, stitch, sketch, write, tape, document and discover talents you never knew you had. Use paint, pens, pencils, chalk, fruit peel, highlighters, junk, photography and even nature because Anti Journal knows no boundaries or rules. The handy-sized Anti Journal is the new personal tool for expression and will stir imaginations out of even the deepest torpor.

Make a date with the wildest, wackiest journal ever!

(Macmillan, hardback, £8.99)

Moone Boy: The Blunder Years by Chris O’Dowd and Nick V. Murphy

What do you get when you put together Irish actor Chris O’Dowd and his screenwriter pal Nick Vincent Murphy? A madcap 11-year-old boy with a wicked wit and an outrageously overactive imagination!

If you haven’t already met Martin Moone, he’s the star of an award-winning hit TV sitcom co-written by O’Dowd and Murphy, and also co-starring O’Dowd. The story of Martin is based on O’Dowd’s own family life as he grew up in Boyle, County Roscommon, in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Moone Boy: The Blunder Years is the first book in a hilarious new illustrated-fiction series which acts as a prequel to the television programmes but can also be read as a standalone story.

Martin Moone is eleven and thoroughly fed up with being the only boy in a family of girls. He’s desperate for a decent wingman to help him navigate his idiotic life so when best mate Padraic suggests Martin gets himself an imaginary friend (‘IF’ for short) he decides to give it a go.

His first attempt is Loopy Lou, a hyperactive goofball who loves writing rubbish rap songs, but Martin soon gets tired of Lou’s loopiness and decides to trade in his IF for someone a little less wacky. Enter Sean ‘Caution’ Murphy, an imaginary office clerk in a bad suit with a passion for laziness and a head full of dodgy jokes. Sean has lots of tips and tricks to guide Martin through the perils of the playground, from dealing with his older sisters’ pranks to beating the bullying Bonner boys. But getting rid of Lou is not that easy, and having TWO imaginary friends is a recipe for trouble!

Packed with zany illustrations and irrepressible (and sometimes naughty!) Irish humour, Martin’s adventures in his amazingly imaginative universe are ideal for youngsters who enjoy reading alone… thought they may want to share the occasional joke with an adult!

(Macmillan, hardback, £10.99)

Lost Worlds: Shadow Creatures by Andrew Lane

There is a world of adventure to enjoy in Andrew Lane’s fabulous Lost World series, inspired by the work of Arthur Conan Doyle.

Lane uses the same winning formula as the originals but zooms forward over 100 years, adds some terrific techno wizardry, a cast of delightful misfits and, hey presto, conjures up a thrilling 21st century take on the great man’s masterpiece, The Lost World.

Refreshingly intelligent and full of awesome locations, fascinating technology and quirky but accessible characters, this series will strike a chord with all adventurous youngsters.

And as an added techno bonus, Lost Worlds fans can log onto to play the Lost Worlds game and unlock confidential information.

(Macmillan, paperback, £6.99)

Age 12 plus:

Famous in Love by Rebecca Serle

From classroom to film star in 300 pages… the meteoric rise of schoolgirl Paige to Hollywood actress is love’s young dream this Christmas.

Rebecca Serle’s Famous in Love has the lot – intrigue, fun, glamour and romance aplenty – the perfect ingredients for an addictive page-turner.

Aspiring actress Paige doesn’t think she’s particularly special but, after getting the starring role in a spectacular film adaptation of the bestselling Locked trilogy, the rest of the world would disagree. Whether she likes it or not, she’s now in the spotlight and at the centre of a swirling breeze of gossip, rumour and deceit.

The only people who really know what she’s going through are her two male co-stars… and they can’t stand the sight of each other. Paige knows it’s a mistake to fall in love on the set of a movie but days of on-screen romance and intensity start to change her mind. The question is… can she keep what happens behind the scenes a secret when the world is watching her every move?

This is a wonderfully glitzy, heart-fluttering tale of young love and fame, all beautifully seasoned with moments of real pathos and a few warm, wise words on the importance of relationships.

(Macmillan, paperback, £5.99)


My True Love Gave to Me by Edited by Stephanie Perkins

Christmas is coming and time to start thinking about ‘true love’ gifts…

Edited by Stephanie Perkins, a much-loved American author of scrumptious teen reads, this gorgeous collection of 12 romantic stories, all set around the festive period, have been written by some of the most talented and exciting young adult authors around today.

Brimming with the magic of first love, the joy of the Christmas holidays and featuring a ribbon marker and fashionably pink-sprayed edges, this winter warmer includes big names like Ally Carter, Holly Black, Laini Taylor, David Levithan, Gayle Forman and Perkins herself.

The wonderfully eclectic mix of stories emanate from all sections of society and backgrounds, and feature different races and sexual preferences. Whether these characters feel joy, wonder, disappointment, anger or simply love, their experiences reflect young people everywhere and their experiences of Christmas time.

The perfect gift to read and treasure…

(Macmillan, hardback, £10.99)