Book review: Usborne Books put the sparkle into Christmas 2012

The bells will soon be ringing out for Christmas and Usborne, Children’s Publisher of the Year 2012, have a stack of books that will chime with the youngest readers.

By Pam Norfolk
Monday, 3rd December 2012, 9:00 am

The independent publisher’s range of books for babies and toddlers continues to expand and the Usborne Reading Programme now comprises over 300 titles for children learning to read and growing in confidence in their reading.

Here are some of the beautiful books guaranteed to keep the youngest family members entertained this Christmas:

Age 18 months plus:

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The Twelve Days of Christmas by Lesley Sims and Violeta Dabija

This magical picture book filled with festive sights and sounds from the classic song, The Twelve Days of Christmas, will be music to the ears of little ones who want to join in the fun. Superbly illustrated with beautifully detailed and decorative scenes that children will love to pore over, the book has a press-button panel, featuring 14 sounds and incorporating the familiar tune and lively sound effects. A sturdy and appealing book that is perfect not just for this Christmas, but for Christmas future as well.

(Usborne, hardback, £12.99)

Age 2 plus:

That’s Not My Sticker Book... Christmas by Fiona Watt and Rachel Wells

Keep little hands busy this Christmas with a colourful sticker book that has been specially designed for the smallest, clumsiest fingers! There’s hours of fun for pre-schoolers who can peel off over 80 stickers (with only a minimum amount of help!) and complete the festive scenes. There’s a snowman who needs his hat, nose and scarf, a Christmas tree waiting to be dressed with baubles, a stocking all ready to be coloured and a reindeer waiting for some antlers as Santa gets ready for his busy night. The large, simple stickers are specially designed for little hands and fingers, and help to develop key motor skills. They can also complete the simple sentence ‘That’s my...’ at the bottom of each page to help them learn their first letters. Time to get stuck in...

(Usborne, paperback, £4.99)

Age 6 plus:

Christmas Carols Sticker Book by Jane Chisholm and Marie-Eve Tremblay

And for school age children who love sticker books too, here’s one that’s a real cut above! As well as the fun of matching the stickers with the pictures, youngsters are able to explore the wonderful world of art with fantastic paintings from the National Gallery in London. Featuring 11 of the most popular carols and their musical accompaniment, this amazingly different book, published in association with the National Gallery, is illustrated with Christmas and the Nativity scenes from famous paintings from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance to Victorian Christmas cards and posters. Children can have fun matching the stickers of the paintings to their labelled frames, as well as learning interesting facts about the painting and the artist. Some of the more difficult or obscure words of the carol come with an easy-to-understand explanation. There’s an art to buying the perfect Christmas present and this is it!

(Usborne, paperback, £6.99)

Age 6 plus:

Illustrated Hans Christian Andersen’s Fairy Tales

Hans Christian Andersen’s classic fairy tales have been delighting children worldwide for nearly 180 years and now this stunning clothbound gift edition provides a book for a new generation to read, enjoy and treasure forever. Enchanting colour illustrations bring to life the timeless stories that have been translated into more than 150 languages and inspired films, plays and ballets. Twelve classic fairy tales are lavishly presented and include the best-loved characters of Thumbelina, The Little Mermaid and The Ugly Duckling, as well as a biography of Hans Christian Andersen, all charmingly illustrated and specially retold for younger readers. An essential addition to any family bookshelf and a wonderful Christmas gift.

(Usborne, hardback, £17.99)

Age 8 plus:

North Child by Edith Pattou

How about something completely different this Christmas ... a timeless, beautiful story that has the power to transport children into another world? North Child is the unforgettable unfolding of one girl’s love and destiny, a modern-day classic and a book to keep forever. Magic, love, loss and betrayal all have a role to play in a spellbinding story based on the Norwegian fairy tale, East of the Sun and West of the Moon. Rose is a North Child, destined to travel far from home and meet a lonely, icy death. Unaware of her fate, she makes a bargain with a mysterious bear and is carried away to a distant castle. When Rose’s actions unleash a terrible curse, she must embark on an epic journey to save the stranger who has stolen her heart. This luxury, padded hardback edition with its ribbon marker is a gift to treasure and hand down to future generations.

(Usborne, hardback, £12.99)