Children’s Book Advent Calendar

Brilliant Books for Kids this Christmas
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Like your own little book advent calendar, we have a read through our selection of fantastic fiction and chosen 25 books to get your children’s bells jingling and to warm your heart this Christmas:

Board books

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You’re My Little Christmas Cookie – Natalie Marshall (illustrator), Little Tiger (publisher)

Colourful cookies and sweetness abound in this fun and festive board book. With its joyful rhyming text, you and your young one can celebrate the fun and cosiness of the season with this sturdy board book. There are unique festive cut out shapes for little fingers to explore and enjoy while you read the text of the book which is filled with words of reassurance and love for your child. 

The illustrations are adorable: cute depictions of snowy scenes and festive characters which are brought to life in the sweetest of ways. The colours used are bold and bright, captivating your young child’s attention and inviting them to explore the pages and the fun of the season. A brilliant board book filled with sweet, seasonal good-cheer.

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You're My Little Christmas Cookie
  • Edwards, Nicola (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 18 Pages - 10/12/2023 (Publication Date) - Little Tiger (Publisher)

Can you find Santa? Axel Scheffler (illustrator), Campbell Books (imprint of Pan MacMillan) (publisher)

Help!! Father Christmas has gone missing! On Christmas Eve of all days. Can your little one help Reindeer look for him? Where on earth can he be? Surely he’s not hiding behind a tree? No, that’s a snowman. He can’t be wrapping presents for the children can he? No, that’s an elf. Maybe he is crunching on the Christmas treats? No, that’s Little Donkey. You better hope you can find Santa soon!

With vibrantly coloured felt flaps in different shapes, this is a wonderful, interactive first Christmas book for little ones. Peeking behind the flaps helps develops fine motor skills and stimulates the senses. The illustrations by Axel Scheffler are typically bright and brilliant, encouraging babies and youngsters to want to explore the pages. Sturdy, and a great size to take on travels with you, this is a gorgeous gift for Christmas.

You’re My Little Christmas Cookie
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Can You Find Santa?: A Felt Flaps Book – the perfect Christmas gift for babies! (Campbell Axel Scheffler, 24)
  • Books, Campbell (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 10 Pages - 10/12/2023 (Publication Date) - Campbell Books (Publisher)

Picture books

The Greedy Prince and the Greatest Gift – Samuel Langley-Swain (author), Helen Panayi (illustrator), Owelet Press (publisher)

What a gorgeous, gorgeous story embodying the true meaning of Christmas. 

There was once a young prince who had mountains of toys, train tracks for miles, peacocks that pranced and reindeers that danced but nothing was ever enough for the greedy, rude little prince. He demanded more and more from the king and queen until every present in the land had been taken to pile up in front of the prince.  But his endless greed leads to a frozen curse on the castle from a beautiful witch. Scared and alone, the prince realises that he needs to make things right. In his darkest hour and in the depths of the freezing night, comes the warmth and friendship of the village children that he has taken the presents off. As soon as he admits who he is and the wrong that he has caused, magic and warmth lights up the skies to provide a truly beautiful ending to this story. 

This is a truly special story. A cautionary tale of greed and selfishness combines with fairy tale elements and the magic of Christmas to create an unforgettable new classic. Important lessons of kindness, selflessness, community spirit and friendship are all wrapped up in this heart-warming story which highlights to children that the greatest gift of all is not a material possession but can be found in the joy of sharing and the cosy warmth of friendship. The illustrations add to the magic and splendour of this book, really bringing to life the fairy tales and winter wonderland. A truly special book to enjoy with your little ones this Christmas and beyond. 

The Greedy Prince and the Greatest Gift
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The Greedy Prince and the Greatest Gift
  • Langley-Swain, Samuel (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 32 Pages - 11/02/2023 (Publication Date) - Owlet Press (Publisher)

The Penguin who Lost His Way – John Hay (author), Garry Parsons (illustrator), Macmillan Children’s Books (publisher)

Awwww, well, if you would like a story to fill you with the spirit of Christmas and the generosity of people, then this is it!

Inspired by a true story of a brave little penguin and the team of people who helped him, this is the most adorable story about one of our favourite wintery animals.

Hoppy is a young emperor Penguin who just adores playing with his friends, Beaky and Flappy, and loves swimming in the icy waters of the Antarctic. One day though, he swims too far. Far too far. He ends up alone on a sandy beach, three thousand miles away from the frozen landscapes he is used to. And when he starts eating the sand, like he would have eaten the snow, he becomes poorly. Will anyone look after the lonely young penguin? Will he ever get back to see his family and friends once more?

Well, this might be a story which features ice and snow but it will truly melt your heart, especially when you read the final two-page spread, which details the true story of this remarkable penguin. This book is a huge hit in this house – a sensational seasonal read, filled with love, compassion, adventure and cheer. 

The Penguin who Lost His Way
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The Penguin Who Lost His Way: Inspired by a True Story
  • Hay, John (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 32 Pages - 09/28/2023 (Publication Date) - Macmillan Children's Books (Publisher)

The Christmas Sprout – Richard Dungworth (author), Samantha Meredith (illustrator), Pat-a-Cake (imprint of Hachette Children’s Group)

Well, if this isn’t the kindest Christmas book around then I don’t know what is!!! Be honest, what is your opinion on sprouts? Are you a lover or a hater?! I have always been a lover and two out of three of my children are also in my camp (like the old Meat Loaf song, two out of three ain’t bad!) but even if they aren’t your favourite veg, you won’t be able to resist the adorable Stephen Sprout and his good deeds. He’s on a mission  this Christmas to spread the gifts of kindness and good cheer. When his friends are having wobbles and squabbles, Stephen is there to help them out; he’s just the kind of sort-it-out Sprout they need! His generous spirit, kindness and empathy will have you cheering for this gorgeous green guy on his quest to save the spirit of Christmas. 

The illustrations are bright and fun, filled with colour, vibrancy and Christmas cheer while the rhyming story makes for a wonderful read aloud with your little ones. But do you know what we love best about this book? The fact that it contains an amazing advent calendar at the back of the book. No chocolates or gifts in sight. Just an advent calendar of kindness, suggesting sweet and compassionate things you and your children could do each day in the run up to Christmas. Like say “I love you”, “make someone smile” or “tell a funny joke”. We will be placing this book right next to our advent calendars in the run up to Christmas so that we can spread the Christmas cheer like a sensational little sprout we know. 

The Christmas Sprout
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The Christmas Sprout: With a Christmas kindness advent calendar
  • Dungworth, Richard (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 32 Pages - 10/12/2023 (Publication Date) - Pat-a-Cake (Publisher)

Santa’s Marvellous Mechanical Workshop – Vashti Hardy (author), Katie Cottle (illustrator), Scholastic (publisher)

At Christmas-time, more than ever, I am always conscious about waste and forgotten (or unloved – sob!) toys (we donate these to charity each year) so I love seeing stories about up-cycling and re-using and this is one of the best!

Lily has just moved into a new house. It’s Christmas Eve and it doesn’t feel like home; she has no friends there and she misses her old house. But as she unpacks all her boxes, in a moment of magic and through the wonder of books, she is whisked off to the North Pole with an elfbot named Widget. The elfbots need Lily’s marvellous imagination and creative spirit to help invent lots of wonderful new toys from the discarded old ones. What she creates is a wonderland of imagination and inventiveness. I won’t spoil the ending of this super-sweet story but I will say that Lily comes to learn that with a sprinkling of inventiveness and imagination, she can make anything…. Even a new home!

This is a beautiful book. With themes of creativity, up-cycling and innovation used throughout and a fabulous female inventor bringing STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) into the story – we loved this Christmas creation. The illustrations are stunning: gorgeous depictions of imagination and winter wonderlands in vibrant colours. A brilliant book for Christmas. 

Santa’s Marvellous Mechanical Workshop
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Santa's Marvellous Mechanical Workshop (PB)
  • Hardy, Vashti (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 32 Pages - 10/12/2023 (Publication Date) - Scholastic (Publisher)

The Nutcracker- Steve Patschke (author, retelling E.T.A. Hoffman’s story), Zanna Goldhawk (illustrator), Templar Books (imprint of Bonnier Books)(publisher)

Oooo, I LOVE a pop-up book. Especially one which is so beautifully illustrated and retells a classic story! 

When Marie is given a nutcracker by her godfather on Christmas Eve, she falls in love with his sparkly eyes and his good-natured smile. Little does she realise that this toy will open up a magical world to her. For on the stroke of midnight, Clara is whisked away to a magical kingdom where a Mouse King rules over his army of monstrous mice and Clara is defended by her nutcracker in a fantastical battle. The pair travel together through magical landscapes to the Land of Sweets (mmm, yummy!) and have the happiest of times there with some familiar characters. 

This is wonderful tale of loyalty, love and courage, combined with magic and wonder and it is brought to life through the exquisite illustrations which are filled with intricate detail and rich colour. The pop-up elements really add to the magic of the story and your child will be whisked away on the most wonderful adventure. If you are after a story to read with hot chocolates in hand while sitting round the Christmas tree, then this is the book for you. A wonderful winter wonderland of adventure and seasonal magic.

The Nutcracker- Steve Patschke
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The Nutcracker: An Enchanting Pop-up Classic (Gilded Fairytales)
  • Hardcover Book
  • Patschke, Steve (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 12 Pages - 10/12/2023 (Publication Date) - Templar Publishing (Publisher)

Percy the Post-Penguin – Genevieve Aspinall (author and illustrator), UCLAN publishing (publisher)

From the frozen depths of the Antarctic comes a story to warm your heart.  Percy the Penguin lives in the chilly South Pole, right next to his post office, surrounded by ice and snow. Percy spends his days cleaning and tidying … but never delivering any post because the animals in the South Pole just don’t seem to realise that the polar post box and its polar postie are there! With bucketfuls of determination and grit, brave Percy sets out across the snowscape to make his post office known. With hard work, a sprinkle of support from his friends, will Percy be able to make his dreams come true and create a successful polar post business across the land?

This is a sweet tale about persistence and determination which is such a wonderful wintery read. The illustrations are just adorable (those endpapers are to die for!): gorgeous snow-filled scenes of cute polar animals, with Percy the Penguin being the sweetest star, shining out across the pages. A wintery tale of resilience, persistence, bravery and support, this is a superb book to read with your little one in front of a roaring fire! 

Percy the Post-Penguin
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Percy the Post Penguin
  • Genevieve Aspinall (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 32 Pages - 11/02/2023 (Publication Date) - UCLan Publishing (Publisher)

Merry Whatmas? – Eion McLaughlin (author), Polly Dunbar (illustrator), Faber & Faber Limited (publisher)

Everyone’s favourite hedgehog and tortoise are back!! Tortoise and hedgehog have never celebrated Christmas before. They don’t know what it is all about. And their friends are confusing them even more! Fox thinks it’s all about presents. Badger thinks it’s all about foodie treats. Magpie says it’s all about the singing and decorating. Squirrel is convinced it is all about the nuts! It’s all a bit too much for them. All the noise and fuss. Luckily Owl is on hand to impart some words of wisdom and the two little animals realise in a quiet moment of reflection what Christmas should be all about: spending time with those you love. Because Christmas feels best when your family and friends are around you. 

This is such a sweet book, filled with humour and love. The storyline is funny and engaging for young readers and the message of love and friendship is just adorable. We love the illustrations; they are bright and colourful and are filled with much hilarity (decorated hedgehogs cause much laughter in my house!) and personality.

An irresistible book about the true meaning of Christmas. 

Merry Whatmas?
Merry Whatmas? (Hedgehog & Friends)
  • McLaughlin, Eoin (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 32 Pages - 09/28/2023 (Publication Date) - Faber & Faber (Publisher)

There was a Young Reindeer who Swallowed a Present – Kaye Baillie (author), Diane Ewen (illustrator), Macmillan Children’s Books (publisher)

Well, you’ve all heard about the old lady who swallowed a fly, right?!  But I bet you haven’t come across a greedy young reindeer with a penchant for eating, well, basically anything!! Presents, elves, trees (decorations and all!), stockings, sleighs…. even the Big Man in red and white himself is not immune!!! But Father Christmas does like his mince pies and Young Reindeer’s tummy gets gassy. Just what will happen to the cheeky little reindeer?!  I couldn’t possibly tell you but I will say it is a laugh out loud ending that my twins absolutely adore.  In fact, they have asked for this book on repeat for the last few nights because they love it so much at the moment. And it is easy to see why. Filled with adorable and hilarious illustrations of life at the North Pole and Christmas cheer, this rhyming book is made to be read aloud to your little ones this Christmas. The pictures are bright, bold, full of fun and complement the rhyme superbly.  Based on the classic rhyme, it’s an absolute seasonal must-read with your little ones and will fill you all with festive cheer and the fun of the season.

There was a Young Reindeer who Swallowed a Present
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There Was a Young Reindeer Who Swallowed a Present
  • Baillie, Kaye (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 32 Pages - 10/26/2023 (Publication Date) - Macmillan Children's Books (Publisher)

Santa’s New Reindeer – Caroline Crowe (author), Jess Pauwels (illustrator), Faber & Faber Ltd (publisher)

Oh deer (ha ha, see what I did there?!)! Poor Rudolph has been spinning around and has hurt his hoof. But who will help fly Santa’s sleigh? It needs all 8 reindeer to make it fly! Join the elves as they go on a hilarious mission to try and find a replacement animal  to take the lead flying through the night sky. Cheetahs, hares, zebras, ostriches and more … they are all trialled and found lacking! But maybe the head inventor elf can come up with something to help save Christmas Day? You bet she can!

This is a laugh out loud rhyming romp of a reindeer story. It’s filled with funny comments and the humorous rhyme makes for a superb read aloud with your young children. We love the STEM theme of inventiveness and creativity saving the day, as well as the hilarious ending. The vibrant, creative illustrations are some of the funniest around, so brilliantly do they captivate the faces of the characters involved. It’s bright, it’s jolly, it’s filled with all the fun of the festive season- we love it. 

Santa’s New Reindeer
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Santa's New Reindeer
  • Crowe, Caroline (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 32 Pages - 10/05/2023 (Publication Date) - Faber & Faber (Publisher)

Santarella – Suzy Senior (author), Lucy Semple (illustrator), Little Tiger (publisher)

Oh my!! This just might be my new, favourite twisted fairy tale. And it has a Christmassy theme! What’s not to love?! 

Poor Cinderella’s work is never done. Bossed about by her sisters, she has so many chores and, to make matters worse, everyone else is going to the winter ball. So when she hears a jingle and a bump, she’s convinced her fairy godmother has arrived to save the day! But no, it’s just Father Christmas, and he appears to have hurt his back! Ever helpful, off Cinders goes flying across the world with him to save Christmas and deliver the presents! Hooray for Santarella! But what might kind and lovely Cinders like for Christmas herself? Shall she go to the ball? Or maybe she might just want to choose her own path in life and have a different adventure?

This book is the BEST! We love the strength of Cinderella’s character and her handy, kind, useful nature. We love the themes of choosing your own happy ever after and kindness towards others. Christmas cheer runs right through this jolly rhyming story and it makes a super sparkly read aloud because of it. The illustrations are filled with humour and love and the bright two-page spreads are filled with detailed drawings which we adore. A fun, festive, fractured fairy tale, we cannot recommend it highly enough.

Santarella -
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Santarella
  • Hardcover Book
  • Senior, Suzy (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 32 Pages - 10/12/2023 (Publication Date) - Little Tiger (Publisher)

Ice Journey of the Polar Bear – Martin Jenkins (author) Lou Baker-Smith (illustrator), Walker Books Ltd (publisher)

I absolutely ADORE polar bears. In fact, a good friend of mine sponsors a polar bear for me every year and I love reading updates about it. You and your little reader can join polar bear on her journey through the freezing Arctic landscapes. This story of her arduous wintery adventure details what she eats to fill her up for the winter, her hibernation, and the twin cubs she rears (much excitement from my boy/girl twins here as there is a male and a female cub), as well as all the challenges and adversities she has to face along the way because of our changing climate. The story ends with a question and an answer which makes for an interesting discussion with your little readers.

The illustrations are simply stunning: brilliant brushstrokes of a brutal yet beautiful winter landscape and exquisite drawings of nature in all her glory. 

We adore this fascinating story, which is a sort of blend of fact and fiction but what we really love is that there is a two page spread at the back of the book explaining all about climate change and a helpful section on what people can do to help. I have heard my children shouting “polar bears” when a light is left on so that the others know to turn it off!! What the power of knowledge and words can do! A perfect Christmas present for any animal lover and, particularly, any eco-warrior.

Ice Journey of the Polar Bear
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Protecting the Planet: Ice Journey of the Polar Bear
  • Hardcover Book
  • Jenkins, Martin (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 32 Pages - 11/02/2023 (Publication Date) - Walker Books (Publisher)

Hello Winter – Jo Lindley (author and illustrator), Farshore (imprint of HarperCollins) (publisher)

The fourth and final book in this gorgeous series all about the seasons is out now. 

Finally it is Winter’s turn to share her beautiful season and she is so looking forward to it. But her friends don’t think freezing is fun! So, instead of passing the weather crown to Winter, Autumn gives it to Spring and poor Winter trudges off to play her snowy games by herself. Before long, the other little seasons are feeling bad and Winter begins to realise that it isn’t much fun playing games if you don’t have friends to share the fun with. Will the friends manage to come together to sort out their differences? Will Winter realise how much she means to the others after they trek through ice and snow to find her?

This is a wintry winner of a book, full of fun and promise for the season to come but also a brilliant book about feelings and managing your emotions. This is a superb book to demonstrate acceptance of others for how they are as well as exploring feelings of being left out and feeling bad because of our actions. It’s perfect for any little reader who is trying to manage and deal with big emotions. It’s a lovely story with fun at its heart and the ending provides a very reassuring message for children. The illustrations of the Little Seasons are adorable and the colours used are gorgeously wintery and full of sparkle. It really makes us want to get outside, get our winter gear on and have fun: what better way to help manage our emotions than to connect with nature?!

Hello Winter
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The Snowman and the Robin – Michael Foreman (author and illustrator), Scholastic (publisher)

Oh. My. Goodness. I think I have a new favourite Christmas story. This book is a classic in the making, a timeless tale which will bring a little tear to your eye. But the best kind of tear. A tear for the beauty of a book. For the words. For the illustrations. For the message. 

On a frosty evening in a London park, a plucky, welcoming little Robin starts up a conversation with a snowman. The two friends embark on a wintry adventure across the night-time landscape of twinkling London. From Buckingham Palace to Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly Circus to Westminster, the snowman sees the beauty of the capital city and the wonder of the world, even if he only has a very short time to experience it. 

This is such a heart-felt story, filled with wonder and beauty, making your heart ache with the brevity of the snowman’s life but making it burst again with the promise of more fun and adventure to come. I find it achingly beautiful in every way. From the words to the illustrations, which are exquisite in the extreme- stunning scenes of sparkling London as a winter wonderland full of promise and excitement. I know I would have sobbed as a child when I read this and my son is just the same, but that doesn’t stop this being one of the most beautiful stories around. A book to truly treasure. A book which will become an instant classic. A book to read, pore over every detail and enjoy for years to come. 

The Snowman and the Robin
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The Snowman and the Robin: a beautiful tale of friendship in a gorgeous gift edition hardback
  • Hardcover Book
  • Foreman, Michael (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 32 Pages - 10/12/2023 (Publication Date) - Scholastic (Publisher)

The Robin who Stole Christmas – Rachel Morrisroe (author), Richard Merritt (illustrator), Puffin Books (publisher)

Get out of your head the image of sweet little robins! Yes, you better watch out because Rotten Robin is about! And he detests Christmas. So, he recruits some feathered friends to his gang and plans to take down the Big Man and ruin Christmas. Together with his crew, Foul Owl and Unpleasant Pheasant, he is going to steal it all: the mince pies, the food, the presents, the snow, the sleigh, the reindeer… even Santa himself!  But things don’t go his wicked way!!! Rotten Robin is forced to give back everything he stole and, in doing so, he  might just realise that a Christmas of sharing and caring is not that bad after all! 

This hilarious new Christmassy tale is a firm favourite in our house. The rhyming story makes for a brilliant read aloud with my children as they turn the pages of this bright and colourful book. The illustrations are vibrant, filled with humour and fun  and really bring to life the nefarious villain of the story with the expressions on his face! Full of festive fun, humour and heart, this is a brilliant book with a sweet message and we hope you get hold of a copy this Christmas. 

The Robin who Stole Christmas
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The Robin Who Stole Christmas: Discover this funny festive picture book
  • Morrisroe, Rachel (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 32 Pages - 10/12/2023 (Publication Date) - Puffin (Publisher)

Dasher Can’t Wait for Christmas- Matt Tavares (author and illustrator), Walker Books Ltd (publisher)

Dasher has a favourite time of the year. Of course she does, she’s a reindeer! Can you guess what it is?! You got it: she just loves Christmas. In fact, she counts down every sleep until the big day itself. But this year, Dasher’s excitement gets the better of her. With the sound of carol singing in the air, she whisks herself away to the bright lights of the city and it is every bit as beautiful as she has been dreaming of. But when a snowstorm envelopes the landscape, Dasher starts to worry that she will never find her way home again. Luckily for her, as she flies through the snowstorm, alone, weary and hungry, she spots a cabin and a Christmas tree and takes shelter. And with the help and kindness of a little boy, she is soon on her way home to help deliver the presents to children far and wide. Maybe there will also be one very special present for a special little boy?

This is an exquisitely illustrated Christmas story: the drawings are full of life, love and beauty and are captivating to the eye. The gentle story has such a lovely message of kindness and helping others which is so nice to read, particularly at this time of year. Your little readers are sure to be enthralled with this delightful Christmas classic in the making. 

Dasher Can’t Wait for Christmas
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Dasher Can't Wait for Christmas
  • Hardcover Book
  • Tavares, Matt (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 40 Pages - 11/02/2023 (Publication Date) - Walker Books (Publisher)

Chapter books and story books

The Nutcracker and the Mouse-King’s Christmas Shenanigans- Alex T Smith (author and Illustrator), MacMillan Children’s Books (publisher)

Well, it just wouldn’t be Christmas without one of Alex T. Smith’s amazing advent books to read. And can I tell you a secret? This one is my favourite so far!! 

Your little reader can count down your Christmas with this gorgeous, festively-foiled hardback book and, with its 24 and a half chapters, it is the perfect advent gift.  In fact, our little elf (Pudding, in case you were wondering!) is going to deliver it when he makes his first appearance on 1st December this year. 

The Mouse-King is up to his worst shenanigans yet this Christmas! The night before Christmas he steals the key to the Kingdom of Sweets from Walter the Nutcracker (who has been charged with guarding it). He is determined to cause as much mayhem as possible and ruin Christmas so that people can worship him and Cheesemas will be forevermore (yuck!). Luckily, one plucky little girl and her younger brother, Fritz, are on hand to help Walter get back the key and stop the sneaky shenanigans…. But when Fritz starts sprouting mouse-like features, they realise that they are in a race against time to cross the magical landscapes to the Kingdom of Sweets and find the Sugar Plum Fairy, who is the only one who can stop Fritz turning into a mouse forever. With the help of some fabulous friends along the way, will the bold adventurers be able to save Christmas AND Fritz before it is too late?

This is such a beautiful story which celebrates the true meaning of Christmas: of kindness, forgiveness and true love. The full colour illustrations interspersed throughout the story are just stunning, bringing to life the fun and humour of the story and they are sure to capture your little reader’s attention.  I can’t wait to read it with my children, being six and above they are the perfect age to read this a chapter at a time each night (I think we will use it as a countdown to Christmas book) and I know that they are going to love this endearing story which showcases love, bravery, friendship and family above all other things. With its hardback cover and amazing artwork, I know that this is a seasonal story that we are going to return to year after year. 

The Nutcracker and the Mouse-King’s Christmas Shenanigans
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The Nutcracker: And the Mouse King's Christmas Shenanigans
  • Hardcover Book
  • Smith, Alex T. (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 176 Pages - 10/05/2023 (Publication Date) - Macmillan Children's Books (Publisher)

A World Full of Winter Stories – Angela McAllister (author), Olga Baumert (illustrator), Frances Lincoln Children’s Books (imprint of Quarto) (publisher)

With its beautifully illustrated hardback cover, this is a gorgeous anthology of folklore, myth and legend to snuggle up under the blanket with your young reader. 

This compilation features 50 winter tales from all around the world. With themes to choose from – birds and beasts, tricks and troubles, ice and snow, quests and journeys, spirits and magic and Christmas – there is plenty of choice to keep your reader happy as they delve into these magical legends and tales from across the globe. Whether they enjoy the Cherokee tale of The Ice Man,  the Ukrainian story of the Spider and the Christmas tree, or reading about the magical sacks in the Russian tale of the Gift of Father Frost, each story is spread out across the pages of the book in an easy to read format. 

This book is sumptuously illustrated. It is filled with rich drawings evoking the wintry season and really bringing to life the words of the stories. This is a beautiful collection of wintery tales to read with your children in front of a Christmas tree or as the nights draw in. You can read a couple at a time, or just dip in and out. Perfect with a warming mug of hot chocolate. 

A World Full of Winter Stories
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A World Full of Winter Stories
  • Hardcover Book
  • McAllister, Angela (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 128 Pages - 10/12/2023 (Publication Date) - Frances Lincoln Children's Books (Publisher)

Middle grade

Step Father Christmas – L.D.Lapinski (author), Orion Children’s Books (imprint of Hachette Children’s Group) (publisher)

What a joyful countdown into Christmas this book is. My eldest daughter and I adored it!! Told in 25 chapters, perfect for reading one a day in time for Christmas, this is jolly, jing-ring-tingling, sparkly showstopper of a Santa Claus book!

It’s the first day of December when Harper’s mum announces it’s not just going to be the three of them for Christmas: she’s got a new boyfriend and she is inviting him to stay for the holidays. Woah, hold on to your reindeers. Harper’s not sure how she feels about that. Especially because he looks very much to her like Father Christmas. And why doesn’t anyone else seem to be noticing all the Christmassy things that keep happening when he’s around? Like reindeers being stuck on the roof.. snowfall in only their garden, or hot chocolate appearing from nowhere. And what about all of these mountains of correspondence he keeps receiving from all over the world?! Harper is convinced that Nick must be Father Christmas. If her brother seems too wrapped up in his own worries and her mum is too busy as a vet to notice then she is just going to have to find a way to prove it to them.

This book was so heartwarming it was like drinking a mug of delicious-tasting, luxurious hot chocolate. You are wrapped in warmth and magic with every chapter. It’s laugh out loud funny in places (people on the train may have thought I was a little odd!) and just oozes the right amount of joy, merriment and wonder of the season. Five big, fat, tinsel-covered stars from us: it’s a seasonal must-read. Savour every moment of it.

Step Father Christmas
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Stepfather Christmas: A Festive Countdown Story in 25 Chapters
  • Lapinski, L.D. (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 224 Pages - 10/12/2023 (Publication Date) - Orion Children's Books (Publisher)

The Great Reindeer Rescue – Stephen Mangan (author), Anita Mangan (illustrator), Scholastic (publisher)

Send your children on a wild romp of a reindeer ride across the globe this year to SAVE Christmas with Dave, the, ahem, reindeer (yup, the traditional names must have all been taken!!).

It’s the night before Christmas and Dave, the newest reindeer recruit, is feeling nervous but desperate to do a great job for the Big Man. Unfortunately, a malodorous trump from Rudolph sets about a chain of events that means Dave makes the whole FC entourage and sleigh land on the roof of a house. Not just any house. Holly’s house. Holly, whose mum and dad used to adore Christmas. Holly, whose mum has died but whose spirit lives on in all the bright decorations her dad puts up every year so as not to have to deal with the pain of her death. A huge explosion (involving a magic box and lots of fairy lights on the roof) later and Father Christmas, all the reindeer -apart from Dave- and Holly’s dad are blasted to exotic corners of the globe! It’s up to Holly and Dave to save Christmas!! Will they manage to round up all the reindeer and Santa before sunrise on Christmas morning? And how far will they have to go in this race against time?

If you are looking for a funny, imaginative book to fill you with Christmas cheer and festive fun over the holiday period then this is the book for you! There are hilarious black and white illustrations throughout the story, adding even more joviality and humour to the text. Yes, it’s light hearted, contains no FC spoilers and is a cracking good read but it also doesn’t shy away from the topics of grief and loneliness. Plus, I also learnt a thing or two along my merry globe-trotting way with all the geographical facts about the various locations Dave and Holly visit. A funny, festive read, I can’t wait for my daughter to enjoy it. 

The Great Reindeer Rescue
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The Great Reindeer Rescue: the fantastically funny festive adventure by bestselling Stephen Mangan!
  • Hardcover Book
  • Mangan, Stephen (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 324 Pages - 10/12/2023 (Publication Date) - Scholastic (Publisher)

The Ice Children – M.G.Leonard (author), Penny Neville-Lee (illustrator), Macmillan Children’s Books (publisher)

Focussing more on Winter and the solstice, this middle grade book is a fascinating blend of scary, sweet, classic fairy tale and imaginative mystery story with an eco-twist!

I loved the detailing and intricate wintry story in this tale but I was also chilled to the bone by elements of it too.

At the stroke of midnight on the first day of December, five year old Finn is found frozen solid in the park, instead of being wrapped up warm in his bed with a book, as his parents had left him. He is smiling serenely, his heart is beating but no one can wake him. Finn’s older sister, Bianca, is determined to find out what has happened to Finn and suspects a mysterious sparkly silver book Finn was reading has something to do with it. Bianca can’t find a book like it anywhere though and with more and more children being frozen every day, time is running out. Her quest to uncover the truth and rescue her little brother takes her to a winter wonderland, filled with fun and games, where children are happy and spend their days playing. But Bianca begins to realise that all that glitters is not gold, all that sparkles is not silver … ok, ok, you get the idea!! In fact, beauty and fun, she realises can be rather dangerous. Can Bianca save the frozen children before their hearts stop beating and they are lost to the wintery realm of ice and snow forever?

This book literally sparkles with winter magic. Like a snowflake, it is really one of a kind. I loved the blend of eco-message (around saving winter and our beautiful Earth), creepiness seeping into your bones like ice, beauty, danger, mystery and excitement, all wrapped up within the pages of one hardback book. The illustrations were  stunning, adding to the icy atmosphere and overall feel of the book. It’s got that unique quality where the reader is mesmerised by the danger ahead but, much like the original story of The Snow Queen, they just can’t help themselves from plunging headlong into the snowstorm of adventure. It’s a triumph. As chilling as an icicle yet it will melt your heart at the same time. At 8, and being a bit of a scaredy- cat (like me!!), I know my eldest daughter would find the storyline a little too creepy so this is one I will be saving for her when she gets a little bit older. 

The Ice Children
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The Ice Children
  • Hardcover Book
  • Leonard, M. G. (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 288 Pages - 11/02/2023 (Publication Date) - Macmillan Children's Books (Publisher)

The Secret of Helmersbruck Manor – Eva Frantz (author), Elin Sandstrom (illustrator), Pushkin Press (publisher)

Like a rich chocolate, this one was so dark and delicious that I devoured it in one day!!  Which is actually not what you are *supposed* to do: there are 24 chapters so you can read a fantastically illustrated chapter each day of advent. If you are full of self-control and discipline and the need to solve the mystery doesn’t overpower you!

Twelve year old Flora and her mother are on their own since her father died last year. Christmas was his favourite time of year so for a change of scenery, Flora and her mum are spending a month in the seaside town of Helmersbruck, in a cottage in the grounds of a dilapidated old mansion. But the house has secrets. It doesn’t open its gates for just anyone and there are strange whisperings, weird white squirrels with red eyes and mysterious porcelain figures which seem to appear out of nowhere. As Christmas Eve approaches, Flora learns that the old Manor House is in danger of being flattened and turned into a glitzy hotel. But Flora cannot let that happen. The house does not want that. Can Flora persuade Fridolf, the old owner, to hang on to it. Can she solve the mystery buried in its past and make a happier future for everyone? The clock is ticking ….

This book is THE addictive advent book to buy for your young reader this Christmas period. Mystery, intrigue, ghosts and adventure combine with themes of loss and grief, as well as friendship and love. It’s compellingly written and I didn’t want to put it down! Each chapter has a beautiful black and white illustration which adds to the atmosphere of dark intrigue and suspense. A superb spine-tingling story to snuggle up with at this time of year. I adored it. 

The Secret of Helmersbruck Manor
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The Secret of Helmersbruk Manor: A Christmas Mystery
  • Hardcover Book
  • Frantz, Eva (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 272 Pages - 10/12/2023 (Publication Date) - Pushkin Children's Books (Publisher)

The Snow Girl – Sophie Anderson (author), Melissa Castrillon (illustrator), Usborne Publishing Ltd (publisher)

Inspired by traditional Russian folklore, this book is a beautiful journey into a frozen winter wonderland. I could almost feel the cold and ice as I was reading it.

Based on the Russian fairy tale, The Snow Maiden, magic and friendship combine with a beautiful message about looking forward and seeking out love and happiness.

Tasha and her parents move to her Grandpa’s farm to help him run it. It is nestled deep in a valley which has harsh winters. When Tasha builds her very first snow girl, she wishes she could come to life so that she could feel less alone. You see, Tasha has reverted into herself: after one terrible day over a year ago, she has been reliant only on her self and is too scared to reach out to others. In fact, she has become scared of everything. 

That night, Tasha’s wishes come true and her snow girl becomes real. The two friends spend every night together exploring the valley and having a magical wintery time. But the more Tasha is drawn into the snow girl’s magic and adventure, and away from real life, the harsher the winter becomes. And everybody is struggling because of it: the animals, the villagers, and even Tasha’s beloved Grandpa. Tasha begins to suspect that the relationship she has with the snow girl is linked to the harsh winter. When a devastating snowstorm blankets the valley and her Grandpa becomes dangerously ill, Tasha realises she must face her fears and try to end the winter. But will she be alone once more?

This is a stunning and evocative book. A magical, icy adventure of a story which combines fairy tales and winter wonder with complex feelings and emotions. It contains powerful messages about enjoying the moment and living life to the full, looking forward rather than backwards and reaching out for others to seek happiness. It’s full of love, bravery, courage and friendship and is the perfect book to read by the fireside and warm your heart this Christmas.

The Snow Girl - Sophie Anderson
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The Snow Girl
  • Hardcover Book
  • Anderson, Sophie (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 288 Pages - 10/26/2023 (Publication Date) - Usborne Publishing (Publisher)

Young Adult

You’d Better Watch Out – Sarah Naughton (author), Scholastic (publisher)

Well, this isn’t your average sweet Christmas book. But oh how Ioved it!

Bringing a unique take on a Christmas countdown advent book, this is one thriller of a story you don’t want to miss out on. 

You could read a chapter a day in the run up to Christmas, or, like me, you could just snuggle up with your blanket and chocolate orange and devour it in a couple of sittings (the book, not the chocolate – that went in one go!!).

Every day in December, a “gift” is left for teenager Eleri in the abandoned tower block next to her flat. It’s a real-life advent calendar as each gift is left on the correct floor of the building, right up to the 24th. In the beginning, Eleri is curious and pretty flattered. You see, she thinks that it’s her school Secret Santa who is doing this, a boy called Ras who she used to have a “thing” for last year. But each day the gifts get more sinister and she feels on edge all the time. She begins to think that this is not just someone’s idea of festive fun. She starts to link the darker gifts with the disappearance of her friend Nina last year and begins to question what really happened to her. The gifts start to mess with her mind, making her mistrust everyone. Alone and scared, she questions her relationships with everyone and wonders whether she will be next to disappear?! 

This was a super-suspenseful, chilling countdown to Christmas book. Utterly addictive, I had to find out what was going on! I appreciated that the book did not shy away from themes around complex teenage relationships and friendships, disability, homophobia, homelessness, obsessive behaviours, paedophilia, rape, bullying and so much more. It’s a book which packs a punch in so many ways. Ultimately though (and this worked for me because I am a fan of Christmas cheer), I enjoyed the note of positivity (blended with a dark side of course) that the book ended on. Dark and delicious, I loved this one. 

You’d Better Watch Out
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You Better Watch Out: You better not die! An explosive new thriller, perfect for TikTok
  • Naughton, Sarah (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 320 Pages - 10/12/2023 (Publication Date) - Scholastic (Publisher)
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Fiona lives in Yorkshire with her husband and little girl who is 6 months

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