Flights of fancy put magic into Christmas - book review

Christmas is fully '˜booked' up this year with a selection of exciting, inspirational and entertaining children's books that are destined to wing their way to homes across the land when Santa sets off from the North Pole.

Friday, 2nd November 2018, 9:39 am
Updated Friday, 2nd November 2018, 10:43 am
Peter Pan by Caryl Hart and Sarah Warburton

Age 5 plus:

Peter Pan by Caryl Hart and Sarah Warburton

If you are looking for an extra special Christmas gift book, this glorious, illustrated retelling of J.M. Barrie’s classic story Peter Pan is guaranteed to thrill youngsters and their parents alike.

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Beautifully produced, printed on luxurious paper, and with a fully-foiled cloth bonding and foiled jacket, the new Nosy Crow Classic is a joy to look at and a delight to read, and follows the success of the first book in the series, The Velveteen Rabbit, published in 2016.

Author Caryl Hart and illustrator Sarah Warburton, creators of the Princess and the… series which has sold over 200,000 copies worldwide, once again combine their considerable talents on a stunning book that will be enjoyed and treasured for years to come.

When Peter Pan flies into the Darlings’ room one dusky evening, he convinces Wendy and her brothers to go with him to the magical world of Neverland where children never grow old. It’s just the beginning of an amazing adventure featuring a cast of classic characters, from the mischievous Lost Boys and jealous fairy Tinker Bell to the villainous Captain Hook and his pirate band. But will the Darlings choose to stay in Neverland or return to London to grow up like normal children?

Hart’s playful rhyming narrative, full of magic, excitement and adventure, is perfectly pitched for newly confident readers to enjoy alone, but is also tailor-made for reading aloud with youngsters in the run-up to the big day.

Add on Warburton’s vivid, action-packed illustrations which bring Peter Pan and his adventures to life in all their mystery, magic and mayhem, and you have a gift made in Neverland…

(Nosy Crow, hardback, £14.99)

Age 3 plus:

Last Stop on the Reindeer Express by Maudie Powell-Tuck and Karl James Mountford

If you are missing loved ones in far-off lands this Christmas, climb aboard the Reindeer Express and enjoy a thrilling adventure!

Peep-through pages, lift-the-flaps and breathtaking illustrations from star illustrator Karl James Mountford help to turn a festive fable into a magical odyssey in this wonderful winter-warming book.

Mia misses her Daddy. He can’t make it home for Christmas and everything has lost its sparkle. If only she could at least get her card to him. Mia’s wish seems to be granted when she discovers a world inside a mysterious post box and she is whisked away on a truly wonderful adventure over sparkling seas, snow-cloaked mountains and streets lit by paper stars. But what will Mia find at the end of her journey, and will she reach her dad in time for Christmas?

Maudie Powell-Tuck’s sparkling adventure encourages young readers to feel the warmth of Christmas, enjoy festive ingredients like cinnamon, sugar and smoky wood, and help them to understand that family is what truly makes the season special, no matter how far away they might be.

Mountford’s richly coloured and contrasting illustrations are full of intricate detail, inviting children to look a little closer and step beyond the beautiful cover with its intriguing cut-outs and onwards into a magical festive world.

The true spirit of Christmas in one enchanting book!

(Little Tiger Press, paperback, £7.99)

Age 3 plus:

The Snow Rabbit by Georgiana Deutsch and Alison Edgson

A bad-tempered bear gets a lesson in friendship in this gorgeous glittery picture book filled with love and life lessons.

Bear is always grumpy. He has a furry frown, a sulky scowl and a grizzly, grumbly GROWL. His bad moods are affecting his friendships and his woodland pals are determined to cheer him up. But that is not as easy as it sounds. What will it take to make Bear smile? Could it be a snow rabbit, or maybe even a friend?

Georgiana Deutsch’s gentle, cautionary tale is pitched perfectly for little ones, and Alison Edgson’s sweet and adorable characters, with their wonderfully expressive faces, provide a rich canvas for discussion about feelings and moods swings.

Happy, grumpy, worry, delight and concern all take lead roles in these wonderfully wintry scenes which reflect the recognisable delights and disasters of children’s shared play.

With its sparkling sprinkling of glitter throughout the pages and a heartwarming story about friendship and kindness, this is destined to be a Christmas favourite for all the family.

(Little Tiger, hardback, £11.99)

Age 3 plus:

The Christmas Extravaganza Hotel by Tracey Corderoy and Tony Neal

Improvisation is the order of the day at the calm and cosy Extravaganza Hotel!

Award-winning children’s author Tracey Corderoy and illustrator and Tony Neal work their Christmas magic in this beguiling picture book about a cheery little Frog looking for a supersonic festive season at the Extravaganza Hotel, and ending up in exactly the wrong place!

Bear is ready for a quiet, simple Christmas in his cosy cottage in the countryside when a little Frog turns up on his doorstep ready for a tinsel-tastic season filled with lights, a tree, flying reindeer and a supersonic sleigh ride. But the hotel he booked into is on the other side of the world… can Bear put the glitter back into Frog’s Christmas?

The joys of creating and discovering the unexpected take centre stage in this extravaganza of festive fun, twinkling frost and iced pastries as Corderoy makes us smile and laugh, and Neal brings us lively illustrations, full of detail, and bursting with colour and capers.

The perfect for cosy fireside book to share with your own little cubs...

(Little Tiger, hardback, £10.99)

Age 3 plus:

Moon by Patricia Hegarty and Britta Teckentrup

Light up the night sky this Christmas with a beautiful picture book from award-winning illustrator Britta Teckentrup.

In a stunningly atmospheric peek-through picture book, Teckentrup and author Patricia Hegarty take little readers on a journey into the shadowy night-time world as we celebrate one of nature’s wonders… the moon.

Have you ever wondered why the moon shines in the night-time sky? Turn the dusky-coloured pages to reveal the moon changing shape as it goes through the lunar cycle. As the moon waxes and wanes above, the world below is full of busy night-time creatures. From turtles laying their eggs on white sandy beaches, to migrating birds using the moon to navigate their way to sunnier climes and puffins shivering under the glow of the Northern lights, this is a magical way to learn about the moon and its many phases.

Teckentrup is one of the most innovative contemporary picture book artists. Her intricate collage style is strikingly original and here she brings the nocturnal world to life in all its glorious contrasting shades, lights and colours.

Hegarty’s lyrical, rhyming text helps little ones to understand the moon’s cycle while Teckentrup charts its amazing waxing and waning with peep-through holes, the glittering, glowing moon and her brilliantly appealing and expressive artwork.

The perfect way to shine a light on our amazing moon!

(Little Tiger, paperback, £7.99)

Age 3 plus:

It’s Christmas! by Tracey Corderoy and Tim Warnes

Everyone’s favourite rhino is back for a marvellously madcap festive romp featuring a wibbly wobbly Christmas tree, a home-made jumper plan that starts to unravel and an unexpected snowstorm!

It’s Christmas! is the latest addition to an award-winning series starring lovable rhino Archie from popular author Tracey Corderoy and the ever-inventive illustrator Tim Warnes, and is the perfect book for little ones who just can’t wait for Christmas.

Archie loves Christmas and this year he is determined to make his celebrations better than ever. He makes Dad’s Christmas cookies look even more tempting by adding globs of icing and LOTS of sprinkles. When Mum uses new ornaments to decorate the Christmas tree, Archie decides that they need all of the old ornaments too, especially the star that never stops flashing! Uh-oh, look out, the Christmas tree has fallen over! And still Archie isn’t done… he’s determined to make this holiday the most Christmassy Christmas ever. It’s going to take Mum to put everything right!

Anarchic Archie’s adventures are instantly recognisable to every curious child and every (occasionally exasperated!) parent and this Christmas cracker captures all the excitement, impatience and merriment that Christmas brings for children.

Written with warmth, affection and insight, and brought to glorious life with Warnes’ lively and appealing illustrations, this festive caper is a gorgeous book to read aloud with youngsters and everyone will adore the beautiful, uplifting ending as Archie and his family show us the true meaning of Christmas.

(Little Tiger, paperback, £6.99)

Age 2 plus:

One Cosy Christmas by M Christina Butler and Tina Macnaughton

Everyone’s favourite hedgehog is back for a snuggly, cuddly Christmas adventure!

This is the eleventh festive outing for M Christina Butler and Tina Macnaughton’s cute little hedgehog whose crowning glory is his velvety, touch-and-feel red woollen hat… a truly amazing hat that always seems to take a starring role.

In their latest adventure, Little Hedgehog can’t wait to spend Christmas with his friends. But who has eaten all the biscuits and who is that snoring at night? And when Little Hedgehog’s precious hat mysteriously goes missing, it seems his Christmas will be ruined… unless his friends can help to make it perfect after all!

One Cosy Christmas is a fabulously festive addition to the best-selling Little Hedgehog series. With wonderfully gentle illustrations from Tina Macnaughton and soft fuzzy textures throughout, this will delight Little Hedgehog fans.

Butler and Macnaughton capture the spirit of play and the reassurance of shared friendships in this beautifully illustrated adventure which is filled with affection, warmth, gentle storytelling and adorable illustrations.

And with that fun and fuzzy red hat just waiting for little ones to touch and feel, this is the perfect gift book for the season of giving.

(Little Tiger, paperback, £7.99)

Age 2 plus:

Jingle Spells by James Brown

Halloween and Christmas might be two months apart, but here’s a clever little book that puts them both perfectly in the picture!

Author and illustrator James Brown casts a spell over young readers in a festive-themed picture book that jingle jangles its way between every child’s two favourite seasons alongside a witch who likes to both trick… and treat.

All witches love playing party tricks and games at Halloween, right? Wrong! This little witch loves Christmas with jingle spells all the way! Trixie’s friends think she’s as batty as a vampire so she needs Santa’s help to spread the magic and joy of Christmas. But when she visits Lapland headquarters, Santa is nowhere to be seen, the elves’ shelves are empty and all witches are on the Naughty List. Luckily, Trixie knows a spell or two that just might save Christmas for everyone!

Jingle Spells is a festive feast of read-aloud words and richly detailed illustrations as Brown introduces us to Trixie the clever witch, Rudy the cat, lots of elves, Santa himself and a story brimming with hope, determination and a cauldron-load of magic.

Christmas wizardry for all the family!

(Simon & Schuster, paperback, £6.99)

Age 2 plus:

I’ll Love You Forever by Owen Hart and Sean Julian

Travel across the wild Arctic landscape with two polar bears in a snow-filled picture book from author Owen Hart and illustrator Sean Julian.

Polar Bear and Cub set off on a journey to explore the beauty of their home in the Arctic as the seasons change. Throughout their travels, Cub learns to rely on the constant guidance and knowledge of his companion as the snow melts and the leaves turn golden. Polar Bear reassures Cub that no matter what changes occur in nature – snow falling in winter, flowers blooming in spring, air warming in summer, and leaves changing colour in autumn – the loving bond between them will never be broken.

In this gorgeous, nurturing tale, Hart’s beautiful, moving rhyming text blends perfectly with Julian’s enchanting watercolour illustrations of the endearing animals set against an atmospheric, panoramic backdrop.

There is so much to enjoy and so much to talk about with little ones in a book created perfectly for the winter season.

(Little Tiger, paperback, £6.99)

Age 2 plus:

Pip and Posy Book-and-Block Gift Pack by Axel Scheffler

Award-winning author and illustrator Axel Scheffler’s sweet and subtly clever story starring animal friends Pip and Posy springs to life in this beautiful board book and jigsaw blocks edition that makes a captivating Christmas gift for toddlers.

The delightful Pip and Posy picture books deal with the dramas of pre-schoolers. The little mouse and rabbit are best friends and have fun but sometimes, just like any other toddler, they get cross and sad. It takes friendship, sharing and understanding – and a cuddle – to make things better.

Here we find Pip very proud of his big red balloon but when he lets it go and it pops, he can’t stop crying. Luckily, Posy has a clever idea to cheer up her friend and soon they are having fun again together.

With a set of nine cute picture building blocks and the enchanting board book edition, this gift was just made for little hands.

(Nosy Crow, hardback book and blocks pack, £9.99)

Age six months plus:

A Tiny Little Story: Christmas by Lisa Jones and Edward Underwood

Watch baby’s face light up this Christmas with a bright and beautiful gift-packed cloth book from inventive publishers Nosy Crow.

Gorgeous festive illustrations by greetings card artist Lisa Jones and her partner Edward Underwood combine bold images of faces and animals with high-contrast patterns, first words and a short, simple but enchanting story.

It’s Christmas time for Baby Boo and the snow is falling outside. Join him as he makes a snowman, decorates the Christmas tree and looks out for Santa.

With its crinkly, tactile pages and a handy buggy strap, there could be no better present for baby’s first Christmas!

(Nosy Crow, cloth book, £10.99)

Age 6 plus:

Armadillo and Hare by Jeremy Strong and Rebecca Bagley

Join a cardigan-wearing armadillo and a tuba-playing hare in a wonderfully whimsical collection of illustrated witty stories from the ever-popular Jeremy Strong.

Strong, who has been writing for children for more than forty years and has published over a hundred titles, is a master of the absurd and comical with his work finding an enthusiastic audience in schools across the country.

His humour touches the funny bone of children with exquisite precision, and he has lured many into a love of reading with hilarious books like the My Brother’s Favourite Bottom series.

Here, Strong turns his talents to a warmer, more gentle and thoughtful book of endearing stories about two friends who could not be more different but are still the firmest and funniest of friends.

Armadillo and Hare live with their friends in the Big Forest. Hare loves dancing while Armadillo loves cheese sandwiches. Hare loves playing the tuba while Armadillo loves painting cheese sandwiches. Hare loves his best friend, Armadillo. Armadillo loves Hare… AND cheese sandwiches! Together they go to a birthday party for nobody, try to avoid Jaguar and her teeth, save the other animals from a flood, and have some interesting conversations on the way.

Beautifully illustrated throughout by Rebecca Bagley – who captures the essence of this extraordinary and heartwarming friendship with her remarkably expressive and lively gallery of black and white pictures – this is the perfect gift book for youngsters starting to read chapter books… and anyone who loves cheese sandwiches!

(David Fickling Books, hardback, £9.99)

Age 9 plus:

The Girl, the Cat and the Navigator by Matilda Woods

Set sail aboard the Plucky Leopard for an adventure of myth and marvel among the ice-caps with a daring and adventurous young girl!

Australian author Matilda Woods, author of the critically acclaimed The Boy, the Bird & the Coffin Maker, returns with a thrilling new tale guaranteed to set young imaginations on fire as we journey with sea captain’s daughter Oona Britt on an amazing adventure.

Curious, pin-bright Oona dreams of setting sail with her ship’s captain father for a life of excitement on the wild waves. She has read stories of a mysterious, magical creature called the nardoo which swims through the stars at night, and the determined girl stows away on her father’s whaling boat the Plucky Leopard to track one down.

But her time on the storm-tossed sea is fraught with danger… there’s a mutinous crew, a sabotaging ship’s cat called Barnacles and a hungry creature of the deep awoken after a long sleep. Like it or not, Oona has launched herself on a perilous voyage among the ice-caps of the white North.

With beautiful, full-page illustrations by Anuska Allepuz, this is a thrilling and atmospheric adventure for fireside reading on winter nights, and the perfect gift for readers who want to sail the ice-tipped oceans.

(Scholastic, paperback, £6.99)

Age 9 plus:

Frostfire by Jamie Smith

Get ready to enter a fantasy world of fire and ice in a thrilling middle grade novel from exciting debut author Jamie Smith.

Shortlisted for the Times/Chicken House Children’s Fiction Competition, Frostfire is a brilliantly imagined and memorable adventure story with an icy, Tibetan-themed setting.

Starring a feisty, determined young girl who is helped by a magical, sentient glacier, this is a fantastic story which leaves behind traditional style fantasy worlds for one which is highly original and filled with fiery thrills and blood-freezing chills.

Strong-willed and resourceful, Sabira lives in Adranna, an ancient mountain top settlement surrounded by ice and glaciers. Chosen for the honour of bonding with a frostsliver – a fragment of the sentient glacier that crests her icy home – Sabira embarks on the dangerous pilgrimage to the top of the mountain.

But when a huge avalanche traps her on the glacier and destroys the pass, Sabira is determined to find another way home. In order to survive, she must face up to the merciless mountain and the extremes of nature but there are also dark and fiery secrets hiding in its depths... monstrous monsters and villainous villains.

Frostfire is a powerful and thrill-packed story of bravery, adventure and trial by fire, and with a gorgeous and atmospheric cover, illustrated by Karl James Mountford and available in either red or blue shimmering foil, this is the perfect Christmas gift for young book lovers.

(Chicken House Books, paperback, £6.99)

Age 7 plus:

The Funniest Book Ever by Get ready to chuckle, titter, giggle and guffaw with the funniest book ever…

Youngsters will be sniggering their way through the festive season with this mischievous collection of thrilling, exciting, and utterly hilarious comics from The Phoenix, all specially designed to leave everyone laughing their Christmas socks off!

The book comes from the increasingly successful The Phoenix Presents series, published by David Fickling Books in partnership with The Phoenix comic, and authors included in this collection are Jamie Smart, Jess Bradley, James Stayte, Gary Northfield, Laura Ellen Anderson, and James Turner.

Madness and mayhem with a crazy cast of comic characters!

(David Fickling Books, paperback, £9.99)