Christmas Presents for Kids | Book Edition

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If you are looking for presents for Hanukkah, stocking fillers for Christmas or New Year presents, a book is always one of the best gifts. We have some of the best around to choose from…

Board books

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First festivals – Hanukkah – Ladybird books (part of Penguin Randomhouse) (publisher)

Yey! Hanukkah has arrived. Let your little one lift the different-sized flaps and join in the celebrations and fun of this festival.

Your little one can learn all about the Jewish holiday, the Festival of Lights as it celebrates freedom and light overcoming darkness. They can light the menorah candles, join in with traditional baking, give gifts to family and friends, play spin the dreidel and take a look inside the synagogue. 

This is a bold, bright and joyful interactive lift the flap book which introduces young children to the world around them. It helps develops fine motor skills with the colourful flaps to lift and the chunky pages mean it is a robust book which can be taken on your travels with you. The illustrations are vibrant and fun, really bringing colour and life to the joy of this special celebration. It would be a brilliant Hannukah present or a gift to introduce your young reader to different celebrations and festivals than their own. 

First festivals - Hanukkah
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First Festivals: Hanukkah
  • Ladybird (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 12 Pages - 09/07/2023 (Publication Date) - Ladybird (Publisher)

Picture books

Wolf and Bear – Kate Rolf (author and illustrator), Two Hoots (imprint of Pan Macmillan) (publisher)

Wolf and Bear are best friends. And you are always there for your best friend, no matter what. Right? Bear and Wolf are very different though. Bear spends his days deep in the shadows of the mountain. Wolf loves to play. Wolf tries to coax her friend out from the shadows that surround him but he can’t shake them off. Until one day, Wolf sings a song of her sorrows and loneliness without her best friend, Bear. From then on, the two friends find a way to be together. 

This is a beautifully evocative story with an uplifting message of hope, resilience, respect and finding a common ground. It’s warm and wonderful and celebrates the power of love and friendship in the most beautiful of ways. The illustrations are simply stunning- using a technique called cyanotype, Kate Read uses photographs, sunlight, crayons, pastels, digital drawing and (I like to think) a little bit of magic to produce the most exquisite images and colours which really bring to life the emotions of the story. A gorgeous picture book which would make a great gift.

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Wolf and Bear: A heartwarming story of friendship and big feelings
  • Rolfe, Kate (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 32 Pages - 01/25/2024 (Publication Date) - Two Hoots (Publisher)

The Dress in the Window – Robert Tregoning (author), Pippa Curnick (illustrator), Oxford University Press (publisher)

Oh, how we love this book! Inspired by the author’s husband’s childhood memory of falling in love with a dress in a shop window, this picture book is a beautiful celebration of  parental love, the power of imagination and being true to yourself, all jazzed up with lots of glitz and glamour. 

One day, a boy walks past a second-hand shop window and falls in love with a red dress. It’s stunning: shimmery, sparkling, glitzy and red. He adores it. He imagines the life it must have had and the fun it must have seen. Oh, how he wants that dress! His mum suggests he does some chores so that he can save up and buy it but, after he reaches the amount of money he needs, he trots off to the shops … only to find that someone else has bought the dress before him!

This is such a beautiful story. It’s filled with a riot of colour and fun and has the most beautiful messages of self-love and parental support. Its uplifting, joyful, rhyming words make it a wonderful tale to read aloud while the gorgeous illustrations by Pippa Curnick cannot fail to put a smile on your face. Magical, affirming and accepting, this is a swishy sparkler of a gift at this time of year!

The Dress in the Window - Robert Tregoning
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The Dress in the Window
  • Tregoning, Robert (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 32 Pages - 10/05/2023 (Publication Date) - OUP Oxford (Publisher)

Ready, Steady Squirrel – Nicola Kinnear (author and illustrator), Alison Green Books (an imprint of Scholastic) (publisher)

Awww, what a gorgeous book this one is. Filled with wintry landscapes, it’s the perfect read with your little one at this time of year.

Evie and her Granny are supposed to be going to collect their winter stores that they  have hidden all round the wood but Granny is feeling poorly. Evie is a very determined little squirrel and is sure she can gather up all the food. By herself. She’s ready. She’s steady. She’s off squirrelling. But it is a very difficult task. Even when she has to face thorns and logs and challenges, she perseveres. All by herself. But sometimes, even the most determined and independent of us need to ask for help. And when Evie’s stores of food tumble into the snow, Evie realises that she should really let her friends help her.

This is such a sweet book to snuggle up with. The superb illustrations add cosiness and warmth to a story that is filled with friendship, support, love and a great message that a problem shared is a problem halved.  From the gold foil detailing on the cover page, through the colourful and beautiful drawings, to the joyful story, this book would make a wonderful gift for this time of year. My twins have loved it. 

Ready, Steady Squirrel - Nicola Kinnear
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Ready, Steady Squirrel: a gorgeous, snuggle-up picture book from the creator of A Little Bit Brave.
  • Kinnear, Nicola (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 32 Pages - 10/12/2023 (Publication Date) - Alison Green Books (Publisher)

Lila Greer, Teacher of the Year – Andrea Beaty (author), David Roberts (illustrator), Abrams Books for Young Readers (imprint of ABRAMS) (publisher)

This origins story looks at the life of Lila Greer, the Questioneers’ brilliant teacher and what shaped her into the empathetic teacher that she is. It can absolutely be read as a standalone book, even if you have never read any of the Questioneers books before.

This book looks back at Lila’s childhood. A childhood where she is scared by everything – from bananas to bark- and worries constantly about life’s  “what ifs”. When her family moves to a new house in a new town, a new school beckons for Lila and she worries even more. Lila feels like everything is odd. She feels alone and invisible. But her lovely teacher sees her. She sees the worries, she sees the feeling of being lost and alone. So, with some board erasers and lashings of kindness, the teacher finds a way to make Lila feel special and part of the class. And this is something which Lila Greer remembers when she teaches herself. Compassion and kindness go a long, long way.

This is such a heart-warming, moving story which pays tribute to brilliant and empathetic teachers everywhere. It’s a story which acknowledges anxiety and worries and has compassion and empathy at its core. It’s a moving story about the power of kindness and sensitivity and about seeing every child as special and having something to contribute. On top of all that, it’s a stunner of a story about the profound difference that one brilliant teacher can make in a child’s life. The bright illustrations are amazing: David Robert’s iconic style captures the personalities perfectly.  This would make a brilliant stocking filler or superb gift for any teacher this Christmas.

Lila Greer, Teacher of the Year
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Lila Greer, Teacher of the Year (The Questioneers, 6)
  • Hardcover Book
  • Beaty, Andrea (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 40 Pages - 11/09/2023 (Publication Date) - Abrams (Publisher)

Molly, Olive and Dexter – The Guessing Game – Catherine Rayner (author and illustrator), Walker Books Ltd (publisher)

We are huge fans of Catherine Rayner books in our house (Smelly Louie is a particular favourite with my children!) so we jumped at the chance to review this latest beautiful release in this new series of books. But before I jump into a review of the book itself, I have to mention the endpapers. They are simply exquisite: beautiful brushstrokes of watercolour genius depicting the gorgeous, rolling landscape of the British countryside. Stunning!

If you have the first of these books (which you don’t need to to read this story), you will know that at the bottom of the garden, there’s an old oak tree which is home to Molly the hare, Olive the owl and Dexter the fox. The three best friends just love playing games. And everyone loves a good game of “Guess What?”, don’t they? But Molly and Dexter just don’t seem to be able to guess what Olive is thinking of, despite all her clues! Will they be able to work out the answer? Will your little reader guess before they do?

This is an exquisitely illustrated book with a beautifully sweet story for little ones. The stunning illustrations of the animals are so heart-felt and beautiful, combined with the irresistible story about friendship and togetherness, that this book feels like a gentle, warm hug for your little ones. Each page is awash with beautiful brushstrokes and soft colour palettes and I think it would make a stunning gift, particularly with its striking gold foil detailing on the cover. This book provides a reassuring and comforting read for young children everywhere and it makes a great bedtime read. My children love it because we have an oak tree in our garden and they now think Molly, Olive and Dexter Iive there. A sweet and gentle storyline with the most sublime illustrations. A super stocking filler. 

Molly, Olive and Dexter - The Guessing Game
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Molly, Olive and Dexter: The Guessing Game (Molly, Olive & Dexter)
  • Hardcover Book
  • Rayner, Catherine (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 32 Pages - 11/02/2023 (Publication Date) - Walker Books (Publisher)

The Oak Tree – Julia Donaldson (author), Victoria Sandoy (illustrator), Alison Green Books (imprint of Scholastic) (publisher)

I think I have found another favourite picture book! It’s no secret that I absolutely adore trees, and oak trees in particular, and we live in a wood so this book was always going to be a hit in this house. But this book is also a fascinating history lesson and amazing fact book too!

A thousand years ago, a little acorn grows… and grows. Through the years, we see animals use it as their home, children play within its sturdy branches, and people dancing round it. Through the years, the tree weathers many storms, from man-made ones like wars, to natural disasters, and it stands proud and strong. Until one day, it topples and its fallen form provides life and refuge for animals and a play place for children. Meanwhile, another acorn begins to grow …

This book is a masterpiece. It is written in a gorgeous rhyming story (perfect for reading aloud) which tells of life through the ages and provides some fascinating details about historical moments. Not only is there a beautiful story but at the back of the book there is a superb two-page spread telling your little reader all about oak trees. We were captivated and learnt so much – we didn’t know that King Charles II hid in the branches of an oak tree during the war! 

I have to mention the illustrations because they are absolute exquisite. Gorgeous, gorgeous drawings of stunning scenery, amazing animals, people and wildlife. A real treat for the eyes! This is a sensational story and a beautiful book and it would make a gorgeous gift for a young reader.

The Oak Tree - Julia Donaldson
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The Oak Tree: a dazzling picture book, by Julia Donaldson, author of Zog and Stick Man
  • Hardcover Book
  • Donaldson, Julia (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 32 Pages - 09/28/2023 (Publication Date) - Alison Green Books (Publisher)

King Lion – Emma Yartlett (author and illustrator), Walker Books Ltd (publisher)

Awww, poor King Lion is lonely. He just wants a friend. But no matter what he does, no matter how many times he asks, all anyone sees is a scary predator with huge teeth and terrifying roars. How can lion make friends if everyone runs away from him? Alone and unhappy, King Lion roars his sadness into the night. But one day, a brave little girl thinks she understands his roars. She thinks she hears the sadness in his scary noise. So the little girl bravely extends a hand of friendship and a cuddle of warmth to the lion. And from that moment on, they are the best of friends and people realise that King Lion was really just a softy. And he learns how to interact and to be a good friend. 

This is such a heartwarming, uplifting story about the power of friendship and bravery. The illustrations by Emma Yartlett are characteristically beautiful, with rich detailing and each two page spread being filled with colours which reflect the emotions of King Lion. A lovely bedtime read about the importance of empathy and friendship, this stunning picture book would make a great gift. 

King Lion - Emma Yartlett
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King Lion
  • Hardcover Book
  • Yarlett, Emma (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 32 Pages - 11/02/2023 (Publication Date) - Walker Books (Publisher)

The Ogre who Wasn’t- Michael Morpurgo (author), Emily Gravett (illustrator), Two Hoots (imprint of Pan Macmillan) (publisher)

What a gorgeous book! We love a fairytale with a wonderful message. And this colourful beauty is one of the best!

Five year old Princess Clara loves being outside. She loves running barefoot, doing backflips, climbing trees and collecting all sorts of creatures and bringing them into the palace. She hates wearing pink and brushing her hair.  And oh how she misses her father dreadfully, as he no longer plays with her now her mother has died. She feels constantly bossed around by people who do nothing but tell her off. Her best friend is a very small ogre who lives in her shoe under her bed! And we all know that ogres are baddies, right?! Well not this little guy. He might just be able to make all her dreams come true!! Maybe he isn’t an ogre, after all?! 

This wonderfully warm fairytale is jam-packed full of humour and fun. It celebrates what is important – spending time with your family and those you love – and promotes a love of the outdoors and the natural world. It has kindness at its very core and I defy you to turn the pages of this bright and beautiful book and not feel happy. Its illustrations are joyful and humorous and shot through with the sunshine of the story. A sparkling and fresh fairytale which would make a sensational stocking filler.

The Ogre who Wasn’t- Michael Morpurgo
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The Ogre Who Wasn't: A wild and funny fairy tale from the bestselling duo
  • Hardcover Book
  • Morpurgo, Michael (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 32 Pages - 10/05/2023 (Publication Date) - Two Hoots (Publisher)

Tiny Owl’s Scary Day – Peter Horacek (author and illustrator), Walker Books Ltd (publisher)

Tiny Owl is not sleepy at all! She does not feel tired. She wants to explore the day. Mummy Owl says the daytime can be dangerous for owls but Tiny Owl thinks it looks so exciting! So, when Mummy Owl says it is time to go to bed for the day, Tiny Owl lets her go to sleep (or so she thinks!) and then flies off, out of the nest, into the daytime. At first, Tiny Owl thinks the daytime is so lustrous and wonderful but a few lucky near misses with cats and foxes soon has our little feathered friend changing her tune. 

Maybe Mummy Owl was right all along. Maybe the night time is really the best for owls after all.

This is a sweet, gentle story about the bond between a mother and their young child and the love between them. It’s a story which explores curiosity and adventure in a lovely way but also encourages little children to realise that some things are not always safe if there is not a grown up around to look out for you. The illustrations are stunningly beautiful: each two page spread is filled with colour and amazing artistry of the animals involved. A gentle, lyrical tale which would make a gorgeous gift. 

Tiny Owl’s Scary Day
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Tiny Owl's Scary Day
  • Hardcover Book
  • Horácek, Petr (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 32 Pages - 11/02/2023 (Publication Date) - Walker Books (Publisher)

The Tree Next Door – Charlie Moyler (author), Martin Stanev (illustrator), Little Tiger (publisher) 

A tree stands at the end of a long garden which is tended to by an old lady. The garden keeps her busy and happy. When a young girl moves into the neighbourhood, the first thing that she notices is the huge, resplendent tree next door. Her curiosity leads her to spend time with old woman and through the seasons, the girl begins to realise what an important place the tree and the garden hold in the hearts of the community. And how much the lady has become a much-loved figure of the neighbourhood. So, when winter comes and the lady cannot spend as much time outside , the girl formulates a plan to show her how special the lady, the tree and the garden are to the community.

This is such a beautiful book, filled with love and friendship. It provides a gentle reminder about the power of community and shows an important message about the healing power of nature and the beauty of our planet. The illustrations are stunning, evocative of the seasons and showcasing the beauty of nature. Filled with seasonal messages of togetherness, community, friendship and happiness, this would make a gorgeous gift at this time of year. 

The Tree Next Door
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The Tree Next Door
  • Hardcover Book
  • Moyler, Charlie (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 32 Pages - 10/12/2023 (Publication Date) - Little Tiger (Publisher)

Always Never Always – Meg McKinlay (author), Leila Rudge (illustrator), Walker Books Ltd (publisher)

A heartwarming story to encourage young readers to follow their hearts and embark on all sorts of adventures. And to take their ducks with them!

A little girl has a wonderful friendship with her clockwork duck. They go everywhere together, always exploring, always following secret tracks and trails, always having fun… “Never shy away from mess. When fun comes calling, just say YES! Always take  break or two. Your friend might need it. (So will you.)”

This book is filled with gorgeous, gentle wisdoms and set out in a way that is easy to understand and relateable to young children . We love the firm friendship of the girl and her duck and the beautiful colour palette used is both soothing and exciting, all at the same time. The illustrations are superb: joyful depictions of fun and adventure and displaying the love between a child and its beloved toy. A whimsical tale of wonder and wild discoveries tempered with gentle wisdoms and shared love, this would make a lovely gift for the little reader in your life. 

Always Never Always - Meg McKinlay
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Always Never Always
  • Hardcover Book
  • McKinlay, Meg (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 32 Pages - 11/02/2023 (Publication Date) - Walker Books (Publisher)

The Little Prince – Louise Greig (author), Sarah Massini (illustrator), Farshore (publisher)

Based on the classic novel by Antoine de Saint-Exupery, this is a gorgeous new adaptation in a picture book format which would be a brilliant introduction to the much-loved classic for any young reader.

An out of this world adventure through the stars and solar systems, your little one can join The Little Prince as he comes to Earth from his home on a far away planet filled with strange vegetation and a single rose. As he lands on Earth he visits a stranded pilot who has crashed his plane in the desert and he tells him of his incredible journey through strange and magical planets. The pair uncover beautiful secrets of friendship, bonds of love and kindness and compassion together.

The illustrations by Sarah Massini are simply stunning: brilliant and beautiful images which bring the story to life and create beauty and wonder on the page. 

An enchanting picture book which breathes a different breath into the much-loved classic novella. 

The Little Prince - Louise Greig
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The Little Prince: A new edition of the enchanting classic fable, adapted as a children’s illustrated picture book
  • Greig, Louise (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 32 Pages - 09/28/2023 (Publication Date) - Farshore (Publisher)

When I Smile – A Book about Kindness – Jo Witek (author) and Christine Roussey (illustrator), Abrams Appleseed (imprint of ABRAMS) (publisher)

What a gorgeous book! With the most wonderful laser cut-outs (which can be smiles and rainbows – you decide!) and gorgeously bright illustrations this is a beautiful ode to the power of a smile.

Part of the Growing Hearts series, which celebrates the milestones of a toddler’s emotional development, this would  be a wonderful gift for any young child. And it doesn’t stop there. My twins are six and they have loved it and really enjoyed talking about what makes them smile and the kindness it can bring. 

And if you think a smile is a smile… well, you couldn’t be more wrong! There  are lots of different types of smiles. The type that lights up a room when you see your best friend, the polite smiles you use for people you don’t know, the smiles of bravery and courage you give, the smiles that are sleepy, smiles that spread kindness and joy… like that smile for the little old lady who hasn’t spoken to anyone else all day. Smiles can empower us and make us feel a bit brighter even on days when we feel sad. And smiles can also give encouragement and friendship  and love and kindness. 

This is such a joyful book. The pages are filled with colour and fun and the words are heart-felt and thought-provoking. We had lots or discussions about who we smiled at today and how that makes us, and other people, feel. The illustrations are a delight. Combined with the wonderful words of the book, you can’t help but turn up the corners of your mouth. 

Put a smile on your little one’s face and gift this book to them!

When I Smile - A Book about Kindness
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When I Smile: A Book of Kindness (Growing Hearts)
  • Hardcover Book
  • Witek, Jo (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 30 Pages - 11/23/2023 (Publication Date) - Abrams (Publisher)

A Way to the Stars – David Almond (author), Gill Smith (illustrator), Walker Books Ltd (publisher)

A sweet, uplifting book for little ones, my twins have enjoyed this story.

Joe wants to find a way to the stars. His friends all think that he is silly and a dreamer but he is determined to see the wonder of the night skies. So, with the help of his Dad, they set out to reach up high to the stars. Tree climbing, ladder building, tower constructing, pogo bouncing and many more activities are tried .. they even build a rocket.. until… crash, bang… oh dear. Will they ever be able to soar to the heights of Joe’s imagination and reach for those stars? 

This is a magical, sweet story filled with adventure and action. It portrays the relationship of a father and son in the most beautiful of ways and with the most stunning illustrations. This is a tale of never giving up on your dreams, using your imagination and the love and bond between father and son. With its hardback cover, beautiful illustrations and heartfelt story, it would make a lovely gift from father to son.

A Way to the Stars - David Almond
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A Way to the Stars
  • Hardcover Book
  • Almond, David (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 32 Pages - 11/02/2023 (Publication Date) - Walker Books (Publisher)

Is this Love? – adapted by Cedella Marley, Alea Marley (illustrator), Chronicle Books LLC (publisher)

Based on the song by Bob Marley, this is a picture book that will warm your heart this festive period. The author and illustrator are descendants of Bob Marley and have based this heartwarming book, filled with familial love, on the song, Is this Love? This sweet story captivates your young reader with its eye-catchingly colourful illustrations and adorable adaptation of the song as it follows the tale of an older sister’s love for her new, younger sibling. 

From the moment she sees her, the older sister knows she will love and protect her and that she will treat her right, every day and every night. Playing with her, having fun, watching over her … she knows she will do it all just right because, yes, this is love she is feeling! Just delightful. 

A joyful and warm read, filled with fun illustrations and vibrant pages, this would make a great gift for any child with a younger sibling. 

Is this Love? - adapted by Cedella Marley, Alea Marley
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Is This Love: A Family Story Based on the Song by Bob Marley
  • Hardcover Book
  • Marley, Bob (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 36 Pages - 11/23/2023 (Publication Date) - Chronicle Books (Publisher)

The Colour Monster: The Feelings Doctor and Emotional Toolkit – Anna Llenas (author and illustrator ), Templar Books (imprint of Bonnier Books) (publisher)

From the best selling author of The Colour Monster comes this fantastic new book in the series that encourages conversations with children about feelings and emotions.

The Colour Monster is now a doctor who helps heal emotions and feelings, especially those that are so big the are threatening to overwhelm and are difficult to experience. One day Nuna got into a situation where she didn’t know how to say no and it left her feeling all strange. So, off she went to see Dr Colour Monster. With the help of an emotions toolkit (set out in the BEST four page fold out in the centre of the book!) that the Colour Monster has, Nuna starts to be able to relax through various techniques that make her feel better. Things like blowing bubbles, breathing techniques, dancing around until she feels calmer and more able to put her emotions into words.

We love how this book helps children to recognise and name feelings and has a wonderfully colourful toolkit with lots of amazing tools and techniques contained within it which might help a child regulate their emotions and feel better. Not only that but there are tips for families, educators and carers, as well as a page on how to create your own emotions toolkit. This book teaches a child how to say no (I could take some tips here!) in a sensitive and age-appropriate way, as well as focussing on dealing with complex themes around mental well-being.

The illustrations are also wonderfully powerful as they help to portray complex and difficult emotions in a colourful and relateable way for young children.  Out on 7 December, this would be a lovely book for a little one to unwrap this Christmas. 

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The Colour Monster: The Feelings Doctor and the Emotions Toolkit
  • Llenas, Anna (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 56 Pages - 12/07/2023 (Publication Date) - Templar Publishing (Publisher)

Spread Your Wings – Emma Dodd (author and illustrator), Templar Books (imprint of Bonnier Books UK) (publisher)

What a gorgeous book.  On so many levels.  It’s all about a parent’s love for their child, self-belief, confidence and the opportunity to go out into the world.  And, my, is it beautiful!  A cute baby cockatoo learns through the pages of this stunning story that the time will come for it to spread its wings and fly off into the big, wide world. And that its parent will always be there for them, whenever they want to come back home. We are captivated by the love that the adult cockatoo has for its child and there are so many beautiful words in the book; “The world may seem a scary place when you’re far from home. But wherever you go, my love, you’ll never feel alone.” The rhyming, lyrical text is brimming with love and confidence and is perfect to instil a gentle sense of self-belief and self-confidence for your little ones and shows them what a wonderful world can be opened up for them if they are brave and confident enough to try.  It’s truly heart-warming.  

The illustrations are simply exquisite: pages filled with gorgeously sweet depictions of cockatoos and nature in beautiful colour tones which are burnished with an eye-catching metallic golden touch throughout the pages.  This is a book to treasure and would make the perfect ‘new baby’ or festive gift. 

Spread Your Wings – Emma Dodd
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Spread Your Wings (Emma Dodd Series)
  • Hardcover Book
  • Dodd, Emma (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 24 Pages - 09/28/2023 (Publication Date) - Templar Publishing (Publisher)

The Ever-Changing Earth – Grahame Baker-Smith (author and illustrator), Templar Books (imprint of Bonnier Books UK) (publisher)

This is a unique and stunning picture book showcasing the history of the world within its exquisitely illustrated pages.

Kun adores dinosaurs. He imagines a world where the dinosaurs still lived and the sky echoed with the sound of Pterosaur wings flapping. But we all know that that was millions of years ago. This magical story takes us on a captivating journey through the ages, looking at the evolution of our extraordinary Earth and the wonderful wildlife on it. Its forgotten creatures, its bubbling volcanoes, its frozen years and its molten core. And that leads us to young Solveig who lives thousands of miles away from Kun. She floats in a pool which is heated by the Earth’s core and gazes up at the wonder of the majestic fireworks that form the Northern Lights. 

This book is breathtaking in its vastness, taking us on a spellbinding journey of the evolution of our wonderful world. It’s also illustrated with the most powerful and stunning illustrations of the wonders of this planet. For any young scientist, this would make the most perfect present.

The Ever-Changing Earth
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The Ever-changing Earth
  • Baker-Smith, Grahame (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 40 Pages - 10/26/2023 (Publication Date) - Templar Publishing (Publisher)

We Could Fly – Rhiannon Giddens (author), Briana Mukodiri Uchendu (illustrator), Walker Books Ltd (publisher)

Uplifting and powerful, this beautiful picture book is based on a song by Grammy Award winner Rhiannon Giddens and Dirk Powell. It’s brilliantly brought to life through the soft strokes and stunning illustrations of Briana Mukodiri Uchendu. 

The story itself has strands of Black American folklore and spiritual tradition weaved together to form a lyrical celebration of the power of hope and love. The words of the book are emotive and melodious and provide powerful imagery of intergenerational bonds, ancestral connection and the idea that words like these can make our souls soar. 

We weren’t familiar with the song but we have loved the gentle yet empowering rhyming words of this picture book and we adore the exquisite illustrations which are gloriously spread across each page. 

A beautiful book to sustain and uplift.

We Could Fly - Rhiannon Giddens
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We Could Fly
  • Hardcover Book
  • Giddens, Rhiannon (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 32 Pages - 11/02/2023 (Publication Date) - Walker Books (Publisher)

Chapter books

Finding Bear – Hannah Gold (author), Levi Pinfold (illustrator), HarperCollins Children’s Books (publisher)

Roaring into our hearts once more, Bear is back and Hannah Gold has done it again with Finding Bear, her stunning sequel to The Last Bear!

It’s been over a year since April came back from Bear Island, her Dad has got a new girlfriend and is happier than ever but April can’t help wondering how Bear is getting on.  When she has a strange dream and then hears that a polar bear has been shot and injured in Svalbard, April is convinced that Bear is in trouble. She travels back to the frozen north with her father and sets out on a sensationally snowy adventure to find him with the help of some familiar faces. But April finds much more than she bargains for when she finds that Bear is not alone. A starving and frightened polar bear cub needs her help and she is going to have to navigate the wild and dangerous icy Arctic terrain to bring it to safety. Can she manage it, or has she gone one snowy step too far?

I can say with certainty that this book is just as roarsome, if not more so in my opinion, than the first story of Bear. I raced through this Arctic adventure in almost one sitting (pesky adult responsibilities got in the way!) and I was truly captivated by this spellbinding sequel. I loved seeing the April/Bear bond once again but I also really enjoyed the other characters that are brought into this story and following the blossoming friendship of Tor and April. I also loved the wilderness and beauty of the snowy landscapes and how the book brings to the reader’s attention that nature can be powerful and dangerous even within its beauty and it should be revered for this. Added to all of this are the important environmental and ecological messages which are interwoven throughout the story and you can see why this is such a beautiful yet important read. I promise you, you will have such a big smile on your face as you close the pages of this book: it’s a stunner of a stocking filler!

Finding Bear - Hannah Gold
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Finding Bear: An irresistible animal adventure – the unmissable follow-up to the award-winning THE LAST BEAR
  • Gold, Hannah (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 352 Pages - 01/30/2025 (Publication Date) - HarperCollinsChildren’sBooks (Publisher)

Lizzie and Lucky – The Mystery of the Lost Chicken – Megan Rix (author and illustrator)

Written by Megan Rix, who draws on her own experiences from living with partial deafness, we love this wonderful chapter book series which features Lizzie, a young girl who is growing up with hearing loss, and her adorable dalmatian pup, Lucky.  This is the second in the series that we have read and we adored it.  

When Lizzie and Lucky go off to visit Auntie Rita’s animal sanctuary, there is a lot to do to look after the animals, especially when someone dumps a cardboard box of chickens in the grounds! The sanctuary is a gorgeous place for all sorts of rescued animals like goats and sheep and cows and so you can see why someone would leave chickens to look after. But when the local farmer announces that he is selling off the neighbouring land which will harm the local wildlife, the two plucky friends must try and use their dynamic detective skills to stop that happening! There are strange footprints, a lost chicken, some interesting fossils and a lonely old man to contend with on this wonderful mystery-solving adventure. It’s up to Lizzie and Lucky, the detective duo, to put their skills to the test and try and solve this mystery.

With its gorgeous black and white illustrations which are interspersed plentifully throughout the text and its larger font size, this is a super chapter book for animal loving adventurers.  We love the tips on how to keep your pet chicken happy at the end of the book, as well as the activities on how to be a detective.  What we really adored, however, were the pages on British sign language and using that to spell out words set out in the book.  We will certainly be hunting out the other books in this animal loving detective duo adventure series. What a gorgeous gift for any little animal lover. 

Lizzie and Lucky - The Mystery of the Lost Chicken
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Lizzie and Lucky: The Mystery of the Lost Chicken (Lizzie and Lucky, 4)
  • Rix, Megan (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 256 Pages - 09/14/2023 (Publication Date) - Puffin (Publisher)

Oscar’s Lion – Adam Baron (author), Benji Davies (illustrator), HarperCollins Children’s Books (publisher)

What a magical masterpiece this book is. My eldest daughter and I adored it. We have only read the proof copy, without any of the exquisite illustrations, so I can only imagine how powerful the final book must be! 

Oscar’s parents go away for the weekend and a huge lion comes to look after him. But this is not the typical tiger who comes to tea. No, Oscar is pretty terrified to find out that a lion has come to stay but when he lets him eat as many biscuits as he wants and reads his absolute favourite story ten times (using all sorts of brilliant voices), he realises it might not be as bad as he expected. Especially when Oscar discovers that the lion can change into different animals .. from birds to beetles… and the unlikely pair end up having no end of adventures all weekend. But the lion must make one final transformation before the weekend is over. What will it be?

This book was a joy to read. Yet it was also so moving and poignant, dealing with the issues of loss, grief and mourning in the most gentle of ways and ending on a note of hope and excitement for a blossoming intergenerational relationship. It is a magical ride of an adventure story, filled with wonder and yet also contains some difficult events (which are very personal to the author) and heart-wrenching periods of change for the protagonists. It’s a stunningly beautiful book in words and pictures and would make a fantastic gift.

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Oscar’s Lion: A modern classic beautifully illustrated children’s coming-of-age story - a Guardian Children’s Book of the Year
  • Hardcover Book
  • Baron, Adam (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 192 Pages - 10/26/2023 (Publication Date) - HarperCollinsChildren’sBooks (Publisher)

Unicorn Academy – Sophia’s Invitation – Nosy Crow Ltd (publisher)

Do you have a unicorn lover at home? Then this is the greatest gift for them this Christmas. 

Inspired by the best-selling Unicorn Academy series, written by Julie Sykes and illustrated by Lucy Truman, this is the first book to accompany a magical series launched by Spin Master Entertainment’s Netflix in November. 

Sophia just loves riding horses. And she isn’t very good at obeying the rules. When she receives an invitation to join a riding academy, she just cannot believe her luck. She quickly realises that this is no ordinary riding school though. She is attending the prestigious and truly magical Unicorn Academy where she needs much more than just riding skills and a sense of adventure to find her way. She can’t wait to discover her destiny and become a Unicorn Rider, just like her father. But in order to do that, she must bond with her unicorn, Wildstar, to unlock her magical powers. But Unicorn Academy isn’t all fluffy cotton clouds and candy canes, there is an evil lurking just round the corner. Banished Queen Ravenzella wants to destroy Unicorn Island and all its magic. Will Sophia be able to discover Wildstar’s magic in time to stop her? With her new friends all bonding and finding their powers, Sophia is becoming increasingly despondent. Will Sophia and her new friends have the courage to fight for what they love? 

This is such a fun, page-turner of a story filled with enchantment and magic, as well as a lovely tale about new-found friendship, courage and self-belief. My eldest daughter devoured it in one sitting and she loves the Netflix series. A sweet stocking filler for any young unicorn lover. 

Unicorn Academy - Sophia’s Invitation
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Unicorn Academy: Sophia's Invitation: The First Book of the Netflix Series
  • Unicorn Academy (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 160 Pages - 10/26/2023 (Publication Date) - Nosy Crow (Publisher)

The Incredible Adventures of Gaston le Dog – Michael Rosen (author), Viviane Schwarz (illustrator), Walker Books Ltd (publisher)

Gaston le dog longs to visit the beautiful beach that he remembers from years ago. He leaves behind his best friend Hirondelle, the house martin, and goes off to “follow his nose”.  But his pursuit of his dream is obviously not straightforward! Gaston encounters lots of new friends who try to help him along his journey but it seems that danger and mystery are around every corner. Snakes, treasure, ogres and gnomes abound on his extraordinary journey which takes him up high, across water and down below … Myth, folklore, magic and fairytale and humour combine with a sprinkling of French vocabulary to make this a fun odyssey. But will it be as good as Gaston has dreamed of?

This is a beautiful story, mixing myth and magic, to bring a tale about fun and friendship overcoming adversity. It’s about pursuing your dreams, making friends and having adventures along the way. Yes, there are darker themes of greed, corruption and pollution intertwined but, ultimately, the tale ends on a happier note: a group of friends realising that the greatest treasure of all is true friendship. 

The black and white illustrations are great fun, adding even more character and atmosphere to this brilliant book. A great tail (see what I did there – wag wag!) of a book to gift this season.

The Incredible Adventures of Gaston le Dog
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The Incredible Adventures of Gaston le Dog
  • Hardcover Book
  • Rosen, Michael (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 160 Pages - 11/02/2023 (Publication Date) - Walker Books (Publisher)

Middle grade

Casander Darkbloom and the Threads of Power – P.A. Staff (author), Nathan Collins (illustrator), Walker Books Ltd (publisher)

Wow! Does this book pack a ring-ring-jingling five star punch this festive period! For fans of Harry Potter and Crookhaven, a new magical adventure story is out now. 

Casander Darkbloom has no memory. He lives outside a curiosity shop and he doesn’t know why. What’s even stranger is this funny tingling sensation in his leg. And the fact that all of a sudden some bizarre people seem to be chasing him and a girl named Warrior appears from nowhere (seemingly) to whisk him away to a thrilling magical world. There, he meets some brilliant new people at The Wayward School for Most Prestigious Others. And there, Cas faces the expectation that this magical world is waiting for him to save it from the evil Master of All. But how can Cas do that when he can’t even control his magical abilities and his”funny leg” just does what it wants? Can Cas learn to rely on his friends for a little help?

Genuinely, this was the most AMAZING story. Just when you think you know what is going on, the story twists and turns. And POW that final twist is epic. And one I can guarantee you won’t see coming! Not only is this an amazing magical adventure story, filled with imaginative detail and charm but it is also a powerful story about belonging, about believing you “fit in” regardless. About acknowledging that there really is no “normal”. We are all unique and incredibly special in our own ways. It’s a story about support, love, friendship and family, as well as about good overcoming all. It’s a fantastical masterpiece and it would make the best gift ever. The end.

Casander Darkbloom and the Threads of Power
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Casander Darkbloom and the Threads of Power
  • Staff, P. A. (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 384 Pages - 11/02/2023 (Publication Date) - Walker Books (Publisher)

Peanut Jones and the End of the Rainbow   – Rob Biddulph (author and illustrator), Macmillan Children’s Books (publisher)

My eldest daughter and I have adored the first two books in this terrific trilogy and so we were desperate to find out what was going to happen next in this amazing adventure in the magical and creative world of Chroma.  And this book did not disappoint: it was a brilliant ending to a sensational series, with one big twist I didn’t really see coming! 

Packed full of the most stunning black, white and orange illustrations and flipping between these colour tones and fonts on the pages, this book is as visually appealing as it is exciting from a storytelling perspective.  

Your young reader will zip through the expertly illustrated pages, following every artistic twist and turn along the way.  

In this, the final book, evil Mr White has lured Peanut’s mum into danger so that Peanut, her siblings and her best friend, Rockwell, will set out to rescue her. Leaving her father behind in Chroma, the brave children set out on an action-packed mission to save her. And just when they think they have managed it and creativity and artistic fun will be safe once more, that whole idea of a successful daring rescue mission gets flipped on its head! Tensions run high, friendships are tested and Peanut just doesn’t know who she can trust because nothing is as it seems. Your avid reader will be on the edge of their seat for this twisting, turning artistic adventure set in the heart of the Illustrated City. 

This is SUCH a creative book on all levels – both artistically and from a story-telling perspective and it leaves the reader on a brilliant build-up to something else special (sssh, I am saying no more!).  The world that Rob Biddulph creates is magical and visually brought to life through his stunning artwork showcased throughout the book.  I loved reading more about the characters in the book and the storyline is fast-paced and addictive. There is also a glossary at the back of the book which details the artists and artwork the book mentions – such a brilliant way to culturally educate children.  I cannot wait to share this book with my eldest daughter – I know she is going to love this final showdown. Filled with family, love, friendship, bravery, courage and culture, this is a stunning set of books to gift any middle grade reader. 

Peanut Jones and the End of the Rainbow  
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Peanut Jones and the End of the Rainbow (Peanut Jones, 3)
  • Hardcover Book
  • Biddulph, Rob (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 384 Pages - 09/28/2023 (Publication Date) - Macmillan Children's Books (Publisher)

Girls – Annet Schaap (author and illustrator), Pushkin Press (publisher)

Dark and delicious, we loved this collection of seven twisted fairy tales. And these girls are certainly not damsels in distress. They do not need rescuing!

There’s the bold and fearless heroine who comes face to face with the wolf but he’s not really big or bad (in fact, I felt so sorry for him). There’s the spinner of gold who is set free by the fact that no one knows her name. The determined girl who gives up on smooching a frog. The monster princess who is marooned in the middle of the sea and yearns to break free from a life of dull embroidery.

These stories are empowering, relevant and inspiring for girls in today’s world. The seven famous fairy tales are spun on their heads and a web of enchanting and wickedly delicious stories is weaved in their place. Stories where princesses don’t need rescuing, girls don’t have to marry the princes or be scared. Stories where the girls make their own endings, and they get to decide they’re happy ever after (if they want it to be happy!). 

We have loved these addictive adventures which subvert the norm and empower young readers to aspire to be mistresses of their own destiny. Clever and witty, with stunning black and white illustrations, this hardback book casts its spell over you. A brilliant book gift for any young girl. 

Girls - Annet Schaap
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Girls: from the prize-winning author of Lampie: Annet Schaap
  • Hardcover Book
  • Schaap, Annet (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 192 Pages - 10/05/2023 (Publication Date) - Pushkin Children's Books (Publisher)

Crookhaven – The Forgotten Maze – J.J. Arcanjo (author), Hodder Children’s Books (publisher)

Well, this is the next instalment in the fabulous Crookhaven books. If your reader has reader the first book, The School of Thieves, then this is THE book that they will want to read this festive period.

Gabriel is back at Crookhaven for his second year at the school for thieves and crooks. And it has started with a relentless pace that is not giving up: there’s a hardcore Break-in challenge for them all to attempt and a new diving class called Reclamation. Unfortunately for Gabriel, he really doesn’t like the water. He panics every time he even thinks about swimming and putting his head underwater. That’s doubly tricky for Gabriel though when he and his friends learn about Maravel’s Maze. A labyrinth of tests and obstacles, it is long-forgotten by the school and what lies at its centre might only be accessed from the deep lake above. In fact, it might even be impossible to get to the centre. But the impossible has never stopped Gabriel and his friends before. Not when it’s so important for their friendship that they succeed. Will they discover what lies at the centre of the labryrinth?

I loved this book  even more than the first one I think! The whole imaginative world that has been created by the author and the concept of having a school for thieves which teaches students to use their talents for good in the world is just fantastic. Lots of the characters are very loveable and relatable and I particularly enjoyed the complexity of Vilette Harkness’ character in this book.  It’s  chock-full of adventure, action, friendship and solidarity and I cannot wait to read the  third book in the series which will be out next year. A superb stocking-filler for any middle grade reader who likes excitement and adventure! 

Crookhaven - The Forgotten Maze
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The Forgotten Maze: Book 2 (Crookhaven)
  • Arcanjo, J.J. (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 336 Pages - 08/17/2023 (Publication Date) - Hodder Children's Books (Publisher)

Norse Folktales, Myths and Legends – Anika Hussain (author), Kate Forrester (illustrator), Scholastic (publisher)

Part of the Scholastics Classics collection, this gorgeously covered book contains twenty Scandinavian stories re-told for children. The beautiful collection includes legends from Norse mythology and folktales from Denmark, Sweden and Norway. 

Inside the book there are brilliant re-tellings of some of the gods we all know and love, such as the cunning Loki and the all-powerful Thor (and how he lost- and got back- his hammer!). If your child loves a fairytale then there are some of the best: such as Little Thumbelina, The Fir Tree, the ever-popular Three Billy Goats Gruff, as well as many more charming yet lesser-known Scandinavian tales to fall in love with. 

It’s a book you can dip in and out of and pick up and put down at bedtimes and beyond. A beautifully packaged, truly special collection of retellings from Norway, Denmark and Sweden, this would make a gorgeous gift. 

Norse Folktales, Myths and Legends
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Norse Folktales, Myths and Legends (Scholastic Classics)
  • Hussain, Anika (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 288 Pages - 09/14/2023 (Publication Date) - Scholastic (Publisher)

The Puppets of Spelhorst – Kate DiCamillo (author), Julie Morstad (illustrator), Walker Books Ltd (publisher)

I wasn’t really sure what to expect from this book when I first picked it up. But I was captivated, right from the cover. Following five puppets, this is a masterful tale from Kate DiCamillo. 

Trapped in a trunk are a girl, a boy, a king, a wolf and an owl: the five puppets. This whimsical tale follows their boastings and bickerings, their hopes and their dreams. You see, they each aspire to their own dreams, to be free, to be rulers, to fly, to rip, to maim, to explore… and yet they will each discover that their destiny is to be together.

Their story takes them to an old man’s house, a rag and bone man’s house, to a blue room in the home of two little girls… to the big, wide world. On the mantelpiece in the blue room, the puppets become separated (and the story takes on a darker twist) and they each have an adventure – except the king, but his lack of adventure is a story in itself! They eventually come together again to form cast of characters in a play put on by the two girls and their maid. Their story has far-reaching consequences.

This was such a fascinating fairy-esque tale. Atmospheric and very clever, I adored the tone of this book and loved that the darkness turned to light and hope by the end of the story. On the face of it, it is about five puppets with their own desires and wishes but who ultimately belong together and yet it is also about so much more. There are deep undercurrents of life lessons, feminism, life mirroring art and so much more running through the story which make it a rich and beautiful plot. Whether a young reader would pick up on all of these strands or not, they would certainly enjoy the story. The black and white illustrations are atmospheric and brilliant in their detailing. A gorgeous book which would make a gorgeous gift.

he Puppets of Spelhorst
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The Puppets of Spelhorst (The Norendy Tales)
  • Hardcover Book
  • DiCamillo, Kate (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 160 Pages - 11/02/2023 (Publication Date) - Walker Books (Publisher)

Graphic Novels 

Donut feed the Squirrels – Mika Song (author and illustrator), Pushkin Children’s (publisher)

“Mummy, that’s a really funny book”, said my daughter when she handed me this graphic novel back! She’d squirrelled it away (pun intended) so she could read it before me and she thought it was brilliant. And I have to agree.

Squirrels Norma and Belly have burnt their breakfast and they really, really, really want a donut. After having asked the donut seller politely, and been squirted off the premises (!), they realise they are going to have to come up with a good plan to get those delicious donuts into their tiny paws. With the help of some squirrel friends, some innovative thinking and a whole dollop of action and adventure, your reader can follow the two loveable friends in their quest for that yummy, sweet treat. Will they be able to rung rings around the donut seller? These squirrels just donut give up!

This is a laugh out loud, sweet (in all senses of the word) jam-packed (all the donut puns are coming out!) adorable adventure story which your little readers will love. The storyline is hilarious and brought to life in the brilliantly funny illustrations which make up the book. We hope Norma and Belly have many more adventures together. If the little reader in your life loves a graphic novel then this brand new graphic novel series is just the gift for them.

Donut feed the Squirrels
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Donut Feed the Squirrels: Book 1 of the Norma and Belly Graphic Novel Series: Book One of the Norma and Belly Series
  • Song, Mika (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 112 Pages - 12/07/2023 (Publication Date) - Pushkin Children's Books (Publisher)

Peanut, Butter & Crackers – Doggy School – Paige Braddock (author and illustrator), Nosy Crow Ltd (publisher)

Peanut, Butter and Crackers are the cutest rescue pets ever. Butter is a slightly cantankerous cat who loves food, time alone and napping. Crackers is a sensitive yet excitable dog who loves his home, napping on the porch and dislikes squirrels (my dogs would be with him on this!). Peanut is a very cute and excitable puppy who just wants to fit in and be part of the family. In this story, the doggy duo, Peanut and Crackers are off to Doggy School. It should be great fun – they get to make new friends, play games and dig holes, right?! Well, no. Things are a bit rubbish at first in Doggy School and Peanut and Crackers are split up and the other doggies are ganging up on them. It will take the whole family to come together to help make Doggy School a nicer place. 

This is such a fun, animal filled adventure of a graphic novel. All my children have loved everything about it. From the “meet the characters” page at the beginning of the book, through the hilarious illustrations and words which really nail the idiosyncrasies of dogs, cats and puppies, to the bonus story, fun extras and “how to draw” and “behind the scene” sections at the end of the book. The story is laugh out loud funny in places and the illustrations are superb, really bringing to life the pet personalities with joy and colour. A perfect pet adventure for any little animal lovers out there, this would make a great gift.

Peanut, Butter & Crackers - Doggy School
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Doggy School: A Peanut, Butter & Crackers Story
  • Paige Braddock (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 128 Pages - 09/14/2023 (Publication Date) - Nosy Crow (Publisher)

Cat on the Run – Episode 1- Cat of Death! – Aaron Blabey (author and illustrator), Scholastic (publisher)

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Bad Guys comes a brilliantly funny new graphic novel series. 

This pampered kitty cat is the world’s most popular social media star. The famous feline is loved by all … until the day that she is not! She goes from superstar to supervillain in one quick click of a button as she is accused of trying to bring about the end of the world – a crime she didn’t commit. But Princess Beautiful, our favourite feline is not ready to be sent to jail forever. How can she prove her innocence and avoid capture when she is the world’s #1 cat video star though?

Your reader will be lost in the funny black and white illustrations in this story and cheering on our feline friend as she fights to prove her innocence and clear her name. Is she really just a cute cat and a spoilt superstar? Or is there more grit and determination to her? You decide. 

We love the fun storyline of this new graphic novel which gently pokes fun at social media and we love Princess Beautiful’s tough character in the face of adversity. The story leaves you on the edge of a huge cliffhanger for the next time so we can’t wait to see what happens next. Perfect for fans of Dog Man, this is a great graphic novel gift.

Cat on the Run - Episode 1- Cat of Death! -
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Cat on the Run: Cat of Death (Cat on the Run Episode 1)
  • Blabey, Aaron (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 192 Pages - 09/14/2023 (Publication Date) - Scholastic (Publisher)

Young Adult

Only This Beautiful Moment – Abdi Nazemian (author), Little Tiger (publisher)

I was absolutely captivated by this book. So much so, I wished that I had no adult responsibilities and that I could have just kept reading and reading. It was absolutely fascinating and I couldn’t wait to find out everyone’s stories. But let me tell you about bit about it first …

Three generations of men. Three stories. All filled with struggles and heartbreak. All filled with love. This book follows the lives of Moud, Saeed and Bobby, son, father and grandfather at various points in history. In 1939 we follow Bobby as he lands a highly coveted MGM contract in Hollywood. But his dream of glitz and glamour comes at a price and he realises that he cannot be true to his sexuality or what is important to him if he continues on this path…. It’s 1976 and Saeed is sent away from his home of Tehran because of his involvement in his country’s burgeoning revolution. He is being sent away for his own safety to America, a county he despises, to live with a grandmother he didn’t know existed. But Saeed doesn’t want to leave his homeland behind, nor the girl of his dreams … It’s 2019 and Moud is an out gay teen living in LA with his emotionally stunted father, Saeed. He returns to Iran with this father, to visit his dying grandfather, Bobby, against his boyfriend’s wishes. The country, family and friends that greet Moud will change his views forever as family secrets are revealed and Moud delves into a greater understanding of his history and culture but also of himself.

So, you can see why I was addicted! This is a fascinating multiple coming of age story that opened my eyes and taught me so much about Iranian culture. I loved the depictions of the fragile and complicated relationships within the book – from Moud and his boyfriend, to Bobby and his mother’s – as they portray real life and the complex emotions between relationships and families in such a superb way. The characters are brilliant, even the ones with less prominent roles, like Ava, with many layers of emotions to unravel. I loved the hidden secrets which I was dying to uncover. I loved learning about the history and the present day (with all its unfairnesses). I loved reading about all those beautiful and raw moments and events which shape us into the people we are today. I loved it all. The only thing I didn’t love was finishing it! An epic, intergenerational, beautifully-written piece of YA literature that I cannot recommend highly enough. It’s an artwork. Enjoy.

Only This Beautiful Moment
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Only This Beautiful Moment
  • Nazemian, Abdi (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 432 Pages - 11/09/2023 (Publication Date) - Little Tiger (Publisher)

The Island of Whispers – Frances Hardinge (author), Emily Gravett (illustrator), Two Hoots (imprint of Pan MacMillan) (publisher)

As an adult, I was absolutely captivated reading this haunting gothic tale. I genuinely couldn’t put it down.

On the misty island of Merlank, the dead must not be allowed to linger – otherwise, they will cause all kinds of harm unless they are safely carried away. The dead need their shoes to walk into the next life and they need to be carried away, across the sea to the island of the Broken Tower where they can move on. The Ferryman’s job is to provide the dead passage between the islands.

Young Milo is violently thrust into the role of the Ferryman, having had to take on his father’s responsibility when his father is killed by the footman of a grieving Lord. 

On his first, perilous journey as Ferryman, poor Milo must navigate his way across strange seas, pursued by the vengeful Lord and his strange magicians, whilst also grieving for the father he has just lost and is also transporting across to the island of the Broken Tower. There are traps, perils and many fears …. Will Milo have the courage and compassion to complete his mission for the dead souls?

There are chilling images of headless birds, murky mists, malignant magicians, swarms of deathly white moths, creepy shrouded figures of death and lots and lots of atmosphere to keep your reader on the edge of their seat. Yes, it is a chilling gothic sea-chase with a rich and compelling story but it is also a tale about love, grief, compassion and kindness and fulfilling your destiny.

The blue, black and white illustrations are simply stunning, adding even more atmosphere to this terrific thriller. It’s a beautiful, haunting tale and yet it is ultimately heart-warming at its conclusion. Exquisitely packaged in its hardback cover with silver foil detailing, this is an unforgettable gift for any young adult reader. 

The Island of Whispers
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Island of Whispers
  • Hardcover Book
  • Hardinge, Frances (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 120 Pages - 09/21/2023 (Publication Date) - Two Hoots (Publisher)

Activity, puzzle and interactive books

Spin to Survive – Pirate Peril– Emily Hawkins (author), R Freeson (illustrator), Wide Eyed Editions (imprint of Quarto) (publisher)

We were blown away by the other books in this series so we couldn’t wait to review this book for you!  Such an ingenious idea.  A game in a book.  A game of survival.  Embark on a dangerous adventure on the high seas in this choose-your-own-path book.  

There are specific places in the book for you to put the survival spinner (beautifully included within the front cover of the book) to find out whether your decision was a good one or not, depending on where the hand of the spinner lands. Your reader will have to learn the ropes (will they manage it?), chart their way through Devil’s Reef, deal with sharks in the water,  contend with pirates and all their punishments, find out what life was life as a prisoner and face many dangers.   Will they have what it takes to survive?   Yet again, this book is stunningly illustrated in the quirky and fun style of R. Fresson whose amazing artwork really reminds me of Tintin’s Adventures.  Each two-page spread is bold and vibrantly colourful, bringing to life the waves and wonders of the high seas.  Not only that but there are pages from Samuel Swift’s journal found throughout the book which you can read as you go along, or follow the adventure story and spin to survive first and then go back and read the journal entries later. We love how this is set out in the book, so you can choose how much to read to each player, depending on their age range and interest. This book is an absolute must for the little adventure seeker (or seekers) in your life and it would make a great gift under the Christmas tree: this way you can have the family fun and amazing adventure from the comfort of your own home!

Spin to Survive – Pirate Peril
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Spin to Survive: Pirate Peril
  • Hardcover Book
  • Hawkins, Emily (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 64 Pages - 09/28/2023 (Publication Date) - Wide Eyed Editions (Publisher)

The Story Orchestra – The Planets– Jessica Courtney Tickle (illustrator), Frances Lincoln Children’s Books (imprint of Quarto) (publisher)

This book is an awesome auditory delight for the senses! Discover the magic and wonder of space with Gustav Holst’s The Planets.  

One night, two children snuggle down into their new rocket bunk beds in their newly decorated space-themed room. Just as they are drifting off, Helen and Tim discover that their beds are out of this world as they speed off into the night sky on a magical journey of the solar system. From Venus and Mercury to Mars and Jupiter and all the way back to planet Earth, your little one can follow Tim and Helen on their spell-binding adventure. 

Your little reader can turn the pages of this fabulously interactive book and follow the children on their intergalactic travels, to bring the story to life through Holst’s The Planets. Each beautifully illustrated two-fold spread has a sound button for your little one to press so that they can listen to the beautiful pieces of music as set alongside the story. We also love the final pages of the book.   There’s a section on Gustav Holst. and how he became a famous composer as well as a useful glossary.  The final page contains a paragraph of factual information about each piece of music that your child has pressed the button for, explaining more about the music and the tempo and instruments involved in the melody.  

This is such a brilliant book; it’s a sensory delight on both a visual and an auditory level; it’s interactive and it educates your child on this wonderful composer and his classical music, as well as our stunning solar system. A simply superb stocking filler for any little music enthusiast or budding astronaut.

The Story Orchestra – The Planets
The Story Orchestra: The Planets: Press the note to hear Holst's music (8)
  • Hardcover Book
  • Tickle, Jessica Courtney (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 24 Pages - 11/09/2023 (Publication Date) - Frances Lincoln Children's Books (Publisher)

SuperQuesters – The Case of the Great Energy Robbery – Lisa Moss & Dr Thomas Bernard (authors), Amy Willcox (illustrator), QuestFriendz (publisher) – ages 4-8 

A STEM-sational series of books, we love the latest in these interactive adventure stories.  A love of STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) doesn’t often go together with a fun work of fiction and stickers galore but this unique series combines all of the above in its delightful pages.  This is the third in this series (but can easily be read as a standalone) which sets out to inspire children to love STEM owing to its combination of fun fiction, fascinating fact and super stickers, adding an educational twist to a chapter book story.  Brilliant – the children don’t even realise that they are learning.   

This latest book centres around Leo and his two best friends, Lilli and Bea who are in a quest to fuel a plane sustainably. Leo’s mum, who is an engineer, has given them a model plane, explaining that some planes get energy to fly from biofuels. The friends journey to Questland in search of clues to create biofuel and try to figure out where it comes from.  But the  Queen of Questland is also having problems – she tells the friends that Lord Grumble has been wreaking havoc by draining energy out of Questland. The SuperQuesters must get to the bottom of where the energy is going and in the process, they, and your little readers, will learn all about the energy which comes from natural resources like the sun, wind, manure, plant oil, waves and more. Together, can they crack the case of the energy robbery and restore normality to Questland once again?

Through a series of quest activities, full of sticker fun and aimed at developing STEM skills, your young reader will help the three friends on their mission.   Each quest is unique and fun and can be completed in sequence or can be undertaken as a standalone quest.  It blows my mind how this book combines interactive elements with a work of fiction and links all of this with computing, science, maths and logic.  It’s perfect for any child who shies away from these subjects to show them how much fun they can be and it would also be a hit with any child who loves STEM but doesn’t naturally show an inclination for reading.  A super example of learning through play!  A superb, sticker-filled, science-based stocking filler!

SuperQuesters – The Case of the Great Energy Robbery
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SuperQuesters: The Case of the Great Energy Robbery: 3
  • Bernard, Dr Thomas (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 32 Pages - 10/05/2023 (Publication Date) - QuestFriendz (Publisher)

Poetry Books

A Whale of a Time – selected by Lou Peacock, Matt Hunt (illustrator), Nosy Crow Ltd (publisher)

What better gift to buy for a child than an anthology of funny poetry! And this is the best of the best! Bold, bright and beautiful, you cannot beat it!

So, treat your young reader this festive period to this gorgeous gift. This delightfully joyful hardback book contains a poem for every single day of the year. Yes, you read that correctly. Every single day! So, you can check out the day you were born straight away and have a giggle at the poem (mine’s called Bliss and is about a dog’s love for a human – aww) and then move through each family member, or, you can read a poem on each day of the year (such a gorgeous idea for a gift and a wonderful way to introduce poetry to children), or you can just dip and out of the vibrantly fun pages. Whatever you choose to do, this book is a stunner. The poetry is uplifting, joyful and fun and the illustrations echo this. They, too, are bright and brilliant, providing laughter and light to go along with the wonderful words.

With poems by such greats as Allan Ahlberg, T.S.Eliot, Ted Hughes, Spike Milligan, Robert Louis Stevenson and many more, as well as an index of first lines, this is also a really easy book to navigate your way around.

This anthology will take your child on a superb journey of imagination and fun – a sensational stocking filler (albeit a heavy one!!). 

A Whale of a Time
Sale
A Whale of a Time: A Funny Poem for Every Day of the Year (Poetry Collections): Featured in the New York Times
  • Hardcover Book
  • Lou Peacock (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 352 Pages - 09/14/2023 (Publication Date) - Nosy Crow (Publisher)

Non fiction

My First Lift the Flap World Atlas – Kate Baker (author), Teresa Bellon (illustrator), Lonely Planet Global Limited (publisher)

Lift the flaps AND fascinating facts from around the world, seriously, what is not to love about this book?! 

Your little reader can explore the globe in the most interactive of ways with this sturdy board book. Journeying across the world, continent by continent, your little fact guzzler can discover different cultures, cities, famous landmarks, indigenous animals and much more before lifting the uniquely-shaped flaps to find out more fascinating facts. Did you know that penguins live in the southern parts of South America, for example? Or that Antarctica is actually a desert- in the Dry Valley, it hasn’t rained for nearly 2 million years?! There’s even an amazing, giant pull-out map to open up and pore over some of the wonders of the world your little one has explored. 

The illustrations are vibrant and eye-catching, bringing to life our wonderful world in the most colourful way. 

Interactive, fun, colourful and interesting, a superb stocking filler.

My First Lift the Flap World Atlas
Sale
Lonely Planet Kids My First Lift-the-Flap World Atlas
  • Hardcover Book
  • Baker, Kate (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 16 Pages - 08/11/2023 (Publication Date) - Lonely Planet Kids (Publisher)

The Treasure Hunt – Leisa Stewart-Sharpe (author), Gordy Wright (illustrator), Hodder Children’s Books (imprint of Hachette Children’s Group) (publisher)

Ooo, Leisa Stewart-Sharpe does write some of the best non-fiction books around and so we always jump at the chance to review her books. And goodness me, this blend of fact and fiction is just cracking! 

Your reader discovers a message (sealed with a skull) in a bottle which appears to be from the ghost of Captain William Kidd, the infamous pirate from long ago. Your reader can follow the trail of clues like crumbs as the nefarious thief and pirate, the Ghost Captain, travels the world attempting to steal historic artefacts, jewels, paintings and more. Arm yourselves with a paper and pencil and be prepared for an epic adventure where you will have to decipher clues and crack the codes to move on through the book. Along the way you will uncover amazing, real-life stories of lost treasure and find out whether it has been discovered or has truly gone missing for good! 

Travelling the globe, your young reader can learn all about the masterpieces that have gone missing (we were fascinated by some of these unsolved art heists), the history of the Faberge eggs and the fact that many of them are still missing (!!), see where Queen Nefertiti’s mummy is hidden and learn about the treasures under the waves (and so much more) as they become the treasure hunter themselves.

Fascinating in the extreme (the real life stories are jaw-dropping good!), interactive, with  its codes and puzzles to solve, chock-full of superb illustrations on each two page spread and engaging text blocks of information and storyline, this is a treasure-trove of a book. A Christmas-cracker of a gorgeous gift – we adore it.

The Treasure Hunt - Leisa Stewart-Sharpe
Sale
The Treasure Hunt: True stories of treasures lost, stolen and found
  • Hardcover Book
  • Stewart-Sharpe, Leisa (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 64 Pages - 10/12/2023 (Publication Date) - Hodder Children's Books (Publisher)

Unseen Jungle – 

My  children have been fascinated, learning all about the beneficial microbes my doggies transfer to us! It’s kinda cool and 🤢 at the same time!! 

I have been open-mouthed reading this book at times, so interesting is this world of microbes around us. I mean, did you know that almost half our body is actually not made up of human cells; it’s made up of microbes? They will make your skin-crawl on one hand and your jaw-drop on the other. They are everywhere. All around. They are in your gluteal crease (or bum crack (snigger)) and your belly button 🤢and yet can help a healthy tummy thrive. They are in your house, your garden, your food and you (and there are hilariously detailed and brilliantly illustrated chapters on each)… so delve on into this book and explore the drama unfolding every day in the unseen jungle of microbes around you. You’ll never look at things the same way again!

Unseen Jungle - 
Unseen Jungle: The Microbes That Secretly Control Our World (MIT Kids Press)
  • Spicer Rice PhD, Eleanor (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 176 Pages - 11/02/2023 (Publication Date) - MIT Kids Press (Publisher)

Amazing Ancient World Atlas – Nancy Dickman (author), Lonely Planet Global Ltd (publisher)

Wow! What a comprehensive coverage of the ancient world this gem of a book is! Your reader can go on a marvellous and incredibly memorable tour of the ancient world’s wonders through the beautifully detailed pages of this brilliant book.

This amazing atlas looks at how humans first learned to satisfy their basic human needs of shelter, food and community which then gave them the opportunity to form the first towns, cities and civilisations. Not only that but this work of non-fiction also looks at the innovations those cultures produced along the way as your reader journeys across the globe to discover the people and places that shaped the world as we know it today. 

The atlas is split into sections – hunters to farmers, Western Asia, Central, Southern and Eastern Asia, Europe, Africa, North America, South America and Australia and Oceania – where your reader can explore different civilisations, such as the ancient Greeks, the Aztecs, the Nazca, the Celts and so many more. There’s even a timeline to help visualise the different periods, plus a glossary and index at the back.

The facts are set out in easy-to-digest chunks spread out across wonderfully vibrant pages which are filled with real life images, photographs and marvellous maps. So, if you have a little ancient historian who is fascinated by the Mayan gods, or wants to know more about the Shang dynasty, or you just want your child to appreciate how mind-blowingly fascinating (and at times brutal and gruesome!) our world and its peoples can be then this hardback book would make the greatest of gifts.

Amazing Ancient World Atlas
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Lonely Planet Kids Amazing Ancient World Atlas 1
  • Hardcover Book
  • Dickmann, Nancy (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 160 Pages - 10/13/2023 (Publication Date) - Lonely Planet (Publisher)

Other books

With You Every Step – Rob Burrow and Kevin Sinfield (authors), various illustrators, Macmillan Children’s Books (publisher)

With its gorgeous, heartfelt messages celebrating friendship and its stunning black and white illustrations by iconic illustrators, this hardback book makes a beautiful Christmas gift. 

If you don’t know anything about the authors, these two men are rugby legends,  both having played since they were young boys, national treasures and, most importantly, best friends. The pair have a very special bond which has remained a constant, on and off the rugby pitch and when Rob was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease in 2019, an epic series of fundraising challenges began, with the two friends stealing the hearts of the nation as they crossed the finish line of the Leeds marathon together. 

This book is filled with positive friendship affirmations which celebrates and encapsulates that friendship. It is brimming with love, support, connection and bonds. With phrases like “With a will and a friend, you can make a difference” these are strong, positive messages for children to absorb. Your children will also adore the illustrations: exquisite black and white sketches of love, affection and togetherness by incredible illustrators like David Litchfield, Rob Biddulph, Sam Usher and many more. Like friendship, this is a book to cherish. And for every copy sold, 50p is split between The Mind Association and the Leeds Hospitals Charity. It’s all about the giving at this time of year. 

With You Every Step
Sale
With You Every Step: A Celebration of Friendship by Rob Burrow and Kevin Sinfield
  • Hardcover Book
  • Burrow, Rob (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 64 Pages - 11/09/2023 (Publication Date) - Macmillan (Publisher)
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Karen Beddow founded Mini Travellers in 2014 while doing what she loves most...going on holiday!

Mini Travellers is for parents looking for holiday ideas, destination reviews, days out and things to do with the kids. We also have family travel tips, activity ideas and all other things family holiday related. Take a look at some of our latest reviews for holidays and day trips in the UK.

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