WHOOSH! HERE COMES SANTA
WHOOSH! HERE COMES SANTA – From sleighs to spiders and dragons to dinosaurs, SALLY MORRIS’s choice of this year’s children’s books will unwrap a world of festive magic
Daily Mail has pulled together a selection of fantastic books that are perfect for every child to open on Christmas morning
WE’RE GOING ON A SLEIGH RIDE
by Martha Mumford, illustrated by Cherie Zamazing (Bloomsbury £7.99)
WE’RE GOING ON A SLEIGH RIDE by Martha Mumford, illustrated by Cherie Zamazing (Bloomsbury £7.99)
‘We’re going on a sleigh ride, Ho! Ho! Ho! Can you find the hidden gifts? Ready? Off we go!’ The latest in the Bunny series follows the animals as they help Father Christmas deliver presents with ten gifts hidden under lift-the-flaps. Simple, repetitive rhyme and colourful illustrations make this a Christmas treat.
THE ZEBRA’S GREAT ESCAPE
by Katherine Rundell, illustrated by Sara Ogilvie (Bloomsbury £14.99)
When Mink finds Gabriel, a baby zebra, in the park asking for help, she smuggles him into her bedroom and enlists the help of local animals to track evil Mr Spit — who collects wild animals. Fizzing with anarchic energy, this beautifully illustrated escapade is a romp from start to finish.
THE BOY WHO DREAMED DRAGONS
by Caryl Lewis, illustrated by Carmen Saldana (Puffin £12.99)
THE BOY WHO DREAMED DRAGONS by Caryl Lewis, illustrated by Carmen Saldana (Puffin £12.99)
Albie struggles to make friends but loves night-time when he dreams of dragons who take him on extraordinary adventures. One day he meets a solitary girl who can also see his dragons, and he discovers friendship and acceptance. Engaging, witty, reassuring and gorgeously illustrated with a lovely final twist.
THE WOMAN WHO TURNED CHILDREN INTO BIRDS
by David Almond, illustrated by Laura Carlin (Walker, £12.99)
When Nanty Solo comes to town she claims she can turn children into birds. Alarmed parents forbid this but when Dorothy dares to take flight she inspires other children to do the same. Will the adults overcome their fears and soar? Almond, as ever, champions flights of the imagination.
MEANWHILE BACK ON EARTH
by Oliver Jeffers (HarperCollins £16.99)
A father takes his squabbling children for a car ride and launches into space…but as they visit the Moon and the planets, Dad uses a calculation of how long each trip takes to reflect on past history, showing how humans have always fought each other. Jeffers’ gentle message is conveyed through stunning artwork.
by David Litchfield (Frances Lincoln £12.99)
Litchfield’s dazzling use of light sparkles through this festive feast. Young Nicky Claus helps his three uncles in their toy emporium where one makes toys, one checks them and one adds the magic. But when Nicky comes across poor children who have nothing, he vows every child will have a present — and Father Christmas is born…
THIS IS NOT A DINOSAUR
by Barry Timms, illustrated by Ged Adamson (Nosy Crow £6.99)
Imagine meeting a creature that looks like a dinosaur but, in fact, is everything you want it to be: a pirate, a footballer, a deep-sea diver or an explorer. A festival of fun, friendship and creativity, this is full of warmth, silliness and lots of giggly, made-up words.
by Fiona Lumbers (Andersen £12.99)
Ava’s naturalist parents are obsessed with finding the rare ghost orchid but as they travel the world they fail to notice the Northern Lights, the jungle monkeys or the huge whales that entrance the little girl. A surprise ending teaches them to appreciate the wonders — and Ava.
MY RHINOCEROS by Jon Agee (Scallywag Press £12.99)
by Jon Agee (Scallywag Press £12.99)
Agee combines deadpan comedy with cartoon-like illustrations in this absurd story of a boy who buys a pet rhinoceros who does nothing but burst balloons and rip kites. The boy is on the verge of swapping him for a hippo when a robbery gives Rhino a chance to shine…
by Emma Bettridge, illustrated by Josephine Birch (Graffeg £8.99)
For every child who has ever lost a pet (or grieved for anyone), this touching book is a must. Merlin the dog misses his best friend Hobbs so much that he doesn’t want to go for walks. But one day he scents him on a tree, sniffs him on the wind and understands Hobbs’ message that he will always be with Merlin.
THE FROST GOBLIN by Abi Elphinstone, illustrated by Fiona Woodcock (S&S £14.99)
THE FROST GOBLIN
by Abi Elphinstone, illustrated by Fiona Woodcock (S&S £14.99)
This long-read picture book conjures up a secret underground world of frosty magic that little Bertie stumbles upon when he thinks his chaotic, busy family have stopped noticing him. Atmospheric illustrations and a touching story with an ending that will melt icicles. Age 6+
THE LITTLE MATCH GIRL STRIKES BACK
by Emma Carroll, illustrated by Lauren Child (S&S £12.99)
The award-winning writer and illustrator team reimagines Hans Christian Andersen’s classic story of a starving girl burning her last matches by setting it against the backdrop of the real 1888 strike by the workers at London’s Bryant & May match factory, where conditions were appallingly cruel. Raw and powerful. 7+
by Jenny Pearson (Usborne £12.99)
Oscar and Molly, staying at their grandparents’ stately home for Christmas, find a confused Angel Gabriel who has accidentally travelled forward 2,000 years and mislaid pregnant Mary, Joseph, Steve the shepherd, wise man Balthazar — and a donkey. It’s a race against time to restore history before Christmas Day. Laugh-out-loud chaos. 7+
WHICH WAY TO ANYWHERE
by Cressida Cowell (Hodder £12.99)
Twins K2 and Izzabird and rival step-siblings Theo and Mabel join forces when K2’s magic Gift (he can draw an Alternative Atlas of other cosmic worlds) attracts the attention of an evil alien hunter who kidnaps their baby sister. The children travel to Excelsiar, where a thrilling battle of good and evil rages in this witty, wonderful new series. 9+
THE WORLDS WE LEAVE BEHIND
by A.F. Harrold, illustrated by Levi Pinfold (Bloomsbury £12.99)
This spellbinding story asks what you would do if you could rewrite history and wipe clean everyone’s memory of events — and even of people. This is the dilemma confronting troubled Hex when a menacing old woman offers to ‘disappear’ those who accuse him of causing an accident. Beautifully written and illustrated, this is poignant, dark and thought-provoking. 10+
A BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO RULING THE GALAXY
by David Solomons (Nosy Crow £7.99)
Escaping her wicked, powerful, intergalactic alien parents, Princess Niki arrives on Earth where she meets Gavin at school and enlists his help in mending her spacecraft before her parents destroy the planet. Marvellous mayhem follows with cannibals, a bounty-hunter cat and hilarious twists as the temptations of yoga prove stronger than battle. Heartwarming and wildly inventive. 9+
WHILE THE STORM RAGES by Phil Earle (Andersen £7.99)
WHILE THE STORM RAGES
by Phil Earle (Andersen £7.99)
At the start of World War II, Londoners were advised to have their pets put down before bombing began, but Noah promised his absent soldier dad to keep their beloved dog safe. So he ‘borrows’ his dad’s boat — with a python, two kittens and a dachshund — and sets sail to sanctuary. Another gritty quest full of heart, humour and historical accuracy from the superb Earle. 9+
MURDER AT SNOWFALL
by Fleur Hitchcock (Nosy Crow £7.99)
There’s something satisfyingly old-fashioned about this murder mystery in which Ruby and her new stepbrother find a body in an abandoned metal box. It’s Ruby’s mother’s employer — but the police are slow to act so the siblings swing into action. Lots of red herrings and dangerous nighttime chases in falling snow. 9+
LEILA AND THE BLUE FOX
by Kiran Millwood Hargrave, illustrated by Tom de Freston (Orion £12.99)
Syrian refugee Leila, now in England, resentfully joins her scientist mother who ‘abandoned’ Leila to pursue her job tracking a rare Norwegian Arctic fox. But Leila bonds with the fox on its icy migration as they both seek safety and home — and she rediscovers her mum. Beautifully told and illustrated. 9+
THE MINISTRY OF UNLADYLIKE ACTIVITY Robin Stevens (Puffin £12.99)
THE MINISTRY OF UNLADYLIKE ACTIVITY
Robin Stevens (Puffin £12.99)
A new 1940s detective series from the author of the Murder Most Unladylike stories, this stars tenyear-old May Wong, a Hong-Kong born pupil at an English boarding school and younger sister of Hazel, a spy. May enlists friends to track down a Nazi infiltrator, solve a country house murder and prove herself worthy of becoming an agent. Rip-roaring stuff. 8+
TEEN & YOUNG ADULT
NEVER FORGET YOU
by Jamila Gavin (Farshore £8.99)
Based on the true story of a World War II British agent in France, this thrilling novel follows four very different teenage girls thrown together at boarding school in 1937. As fascism rises in Germany, each girl makes life-changing decisions about her role in the conflict as the romantic dreams and hopes of adolescence are crushed by hatred and violence. Unmissable
AS LONG AS THE LEMON TREES GROW
by Zoulfa Katouh (Bloomsbury £12.99)
This impressive YA debut is set in the 2011 Syrian Civil War. Eighteen-year-old pharmacy student Salama becomes a makeshift doctor after promising her missing brother to help her pregnant sister-in-law escape. But the malevolent voice of Khawf (Fear) haunts her with horrific images and when she falls for Kenan, she faces a life-changing moral dilemma. Brutal violence but ultimately uplifting.
THE NOTORIOUS SCARLETT AND BROWNE
by Jonathan Stroud (Walker £7.99)
Another humdinger of an outing for gun-slinging Scarlett and psychically powerful Albert Browne, outlaws in postapocalyptic, Wild West England. Pursued by enemies from past and present, they are forced into a dangerous heist as we learn more about their secret histories in this rowdy, rollicking, remarkable road trip.
THE LAST WHALE
by Chris Vick (Zephyr £14.99)
Abi is a teenage climate activist who steals a sophisticated AI device and smuggles it onto a family holiday to Norway. There she decodes the music of whale song — and discovers a fastdisappearing migration pattern that protects the Earth from self-destruction. Fast-forward 30 years and Abi has one last chance to find the elusive whales. Gripping.
by Kenneth Oppel (Guppy £7.99)
In 1839, Rebecca Strand’s lighthousekeeper father teaches he how to kill evil spirits with his ghostlight — just minutes before malevolent spectre Viker murders them both.
Nowadays, student Gabe conducts tours of the haunted lighthouse until Rebecca visits him, demanding his help in rescuing her father’s spirit as Viker rises again. Dark, complex, unsettling.
CLASSICS, POETRY AND COLLECTIONS
THE MAGIC OF THE BALLET
by Vivian French, illustrated by Lauren O’Hara (Walker £16.99)
Seven classic ballets including The Nutcracker, Swan Lake, Coppelia and The Firebird are retold in this delightful compendium that balances the traditional with some contemporary touches. Delicately illustrated, it includes nuggets of information about the original staging of the ballets.
CHARLOTTE’S WEB by E.B.White, illustrated by Garth Williams (Puffin £12.99)
by E.B.White, illustrated by Garth Williams (Puffin £12.99)
This attractive, cloth-bound 70th anniversary edition of the classic story of a little girl, a pig and a spider is enhanced by black-andwhite illustrations that capture the funny, touching and lifeenhancing relationship between them as they learn lessons about friendship, loyalty and death. Keep the tissues ready…
THE BIG AMAZING POETRY BOOK
edited by Gaby Morgan, illustrated by Chris Riddell (Macmillan £16.99)
With this huge book you won’t run out of poems to read aloud or by torchlight under the duvet.
Contemporary voices such as Joseph Coelho and Brian Bilston rub shoulders with older names such as Roger McGough and Charles Causley, while Lewis Carroll’s nonsense rhymes are the perfect springboard for Chris Riddell’s black-andwhite drawings.
THESE ARE THE WORDS
by Nikita Gill (Macmillan £7.99)
This slim volume of poems, grouped by the seasons, will resonate emotionally with girls and young women struggling with self-doubt, love, identity confusion, friendship and family issues. Empowering, insightful and deeply moving, it gives a voice to inner fears and comforts them.
PUZZLES FOR SPIES
by GCHQ (Puffin £9.99)
Have you got what it takes to become the next James Bond? The code-cracking experts at GCHQ aim this at younger readers and it’s the perfect way to occupy them over the holidays. Codebreaking, language puzzles, maths and lateral thinking plus lots of fascinating facts about GCHQ.
A WILD CHILD’S BOOK OF BIRDS
by Dara McAnulty, illustrated by Barry Falls (Macmillan £14.99)
THE INCREDIBLE POP-UP MUMMY by Moira Butterfield, illustrated by Quang & Lien (Templar £25)
Award -winning teenage naturalist McAnulty introduces the season-by-season lifestyle and habitats of Britain’s most popular birds in gardens, parks, lakes or barns. His passion for wildlife combines with in-depth knowledge and the detailed illustrations make this a handbook for all ages.
THE INCREDIBLE POP-UP MUMMY
by Moira Butterfield, illustrated by Quang & Lien (Templar £25)
To mark the centenary of the discovery of Tutankhamun’s Tomb, this fabulously intricate and informative pop-up book with 3D pyramids, the boy-Pharaoh’s golden death mask and even a section on how to make a mummy (don’t try this at home) makes for a fully interactive experience
by Briony Hudson, illustrated by Nick Taylor (Big Picture Press £16.99)
This wide-ranging history of medicine begins with ancient beliefs and plant medicine and progresses through the centuries with the earliest studies of anatomy, circulation and the pioneering discoveries of bacteria and viruses. Lots of dark tales too, from the creepy grave-robbers Burke and Hare to nerve-tingling treatment for toothache.
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