Christmas Gifts ideas: BOOKS FOR KIDS
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- Published on Wednesday, 26 November 2014 11:30
- Last Updated on 23 November 2014
- Monica Costa
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Books make great presents on any occasion. My house looks like a library and despite loving technology I cannot replace the pleasure of turning paper pages for an electronic book. Beautifully-illustrated books are also much more enjoyable when watched on paper.
Here is London Mums’ top selection of books for kids for this Christmas.
When a great filmmaker puts his creativity into writing only good things are expected. And this is what happens with Snow Day. The story is certainly different and quirky. Nothing like any other story we have read before. It makes you appreciate the value of unexpected connections to human beings you could never think you would have any relationship with.
Snow Day is the highly anticipated follow up to The Empty Stocking, Richard Curtis (award-winning and international film-director and script writer, and the creator of Four Weddings and a Funeral, Love Actually, Notting Hill and Mr Bean) and Rebecca Cobb’s first stunning collaboration. This incredibly moving wintery tale is about finding friendship in the most unexpected of places and will be the perfect picture book to find under the tree and to read on Christmas morning.
When Danny goes to school one quiet, snowy morning, the last thing he expects to find is a deserted school and his least favourite teacher. But that’s exactly what he does find. And what starts as the worst day imaginable, ends as the most life-affirming and magical day of the year.
Published by Puffin – Priced £10.99, Ages 4+
The Owl and the Pussy-cat
We love Edward Lear’s classic poem, The Owl and the Pussy-cat and this stunning new picture-book edition beautifully illustrated by Charlotte Voake and introduced by Edward Lear devotee, Julia Donaldson, is a must have book for this Christmas. RRP £10.99 (Hardback). Everybody has read or heard this nonsense poem at school at least once and it feel as fresh and modern despite being almost 150 years old (it was first first published during 1871). Lear wrote the poem for a three-year-old girl, Janet Symonds, the daughter of his friend poet John. The term “runcible”, used for the phrase “runcible spoon”, was invented for the poem.
The Further Adventures of the Owl and the Pussy-cat
The Further Adventures of the Owl and the Pussy-cat is an original poem written by The Gruffalo author, Julia Donaldson, and illustrated by Charlotte Voake. She revisited Edward Lear’s favourite rhyme in 2013 to create a wonderful new story starring the much-loved classic characters. Included in the paperback edition is an audio CD that young readers can listen along to. The CD includes two readings of the story by the author, as well as a delightful performance of the poem set to music, performed by Julia and Malcolm Donaldson. You can read my review of the book and watch my own video of Julia and Malcolm’s amusing performance here. RRP £7.99
The Lavender Blue Dress
The Lavender Blue Dress is the first ever children’s book by Aidan Moffat (singer/songwriter with acclaimed band Arab Strap). Told in rhyme and featuring illustrations by award-winning illustrator Emmeline Pidgen, The Lavender Blue Dress tells the story of Mabel, a little girl who wants nothing more than a beautiful dress to wear to the Christmas ball. It’s a heart-warming tale of family, friendship, and the really important things in life. It reminds me of a story my grandmother used to tell me and my cousins when we where very young and asking her for things. She always convinced us that happiness was not about having lots of material things but being together with the people you love.
The Lavender Blue Dress comes with a free three-track CD of readings by the author and actors and music by Bill Wells – having stories read by the authors appears to be the latest trend in publishing. The book also features a removable double-sided dust jacket with a cut-out-and-play paper doll. The Lavender Blue Dress is suitable for children aged 4-7.
Katie’s book range
Katie’s book series by James Mayhew include 11 amazing books Katie and the British Artists, the Mona Lisa, Katie’s Picture Show, Katie Meets the Impressionists, Katie in London, the Bathers, the Dinosaurs, the Spanish Princess, the Waterlily Pond, in Scotland. We love them not just for the beautiful illustrations but the compelling storytelling. Any of these books are excellent tools to introduce art and artists (Monet, Van Gogh) to children. The book about London is clearly one of our favourite as we can relate to the London sightseeing. These books are all highly recommended and can be purchased from all good bookstores including at the National Gallery Shop (the books are very artistic and educational) or on Amazon.
Katie’s London Christmas is simply wonderful and a great bedtime story for this Christmas. The story is about the magic that can happen during this time of the year. When Katie and Jack are woken up late on Christmas Eve by a loud sneeze, little do they realise that they are about to embark on the most amazing evening! Soon they are flying high across London, over snow-dusted landmarks, through the star-scattered sky with the one and only Father Christmas, in his sleigh, with his magical reindeer! The story is illustrated with James’s extraordinarily beautiful artwork and features some of London’s best sights, including the Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, Covent Garden, Trafalgar Square and many more landmarks.
Monsters love underpants
My son and I are both big fans of the Underpants series. Check out our feature Why are Underpants so hilarious? to find out why we love it so much.
Hook, Line & Singer
125 Songs to Sing Out Loud
From songs for young families through tunes for vintage-lovers, trips away, American favourites and songs for times of optimism, ending with celebration songs for Christmas and New Year, this is a book filled with Cerys Matthews‘s own memories and musical arrangements. The music notes added are useful if you have even simple knowledge and you play them easily on the piano or on the guitar (yes, chords are provided). A mix of the traditional and contemporary, Hook, Line and Singer presents music and lyrics clearly so the book can be sung as well as read. I found some old tunes that I used to play on my guitar when I was at school and it put a smile on my face. Somehow these days kids don’t learn these old classic songs and it is good to have a fun music book to refer to. Hook, Line and Singer is published in paperback by Penguin on 20th November 2014. RRP £12.99.
The Adventures of Hermes, God of Thieves – 100 Journeys through Greek Mythology By Murielle Szac
Pushkin Press have been publishing from European authors for some time now and every new ‘findings’ seems better than the previous one. This book takes children (and parents alike) to a thrilling voyage across the dangerous, beautiful landscape of Greek Mythology like you’ve never read before: fresh, wonderfully entertaining, poetic and funny. The reader follows Hermes, the mischievous young messenger god, as he journeys through the fascinating, colourful world of Greek mythology, from Olympus and Hades to Parnassus and beyond. Perseus, Medusa, Jason and Pegasus are just some of the remarkable characters he will meet along the way. In every chapter, these gripping classic adventures address the timeless questions: Where do we come from and how are we made? How can so much violence and hate exist in the world alongside so much love and beauty? What happens after death? It is to answer these questions that Hermes voyages through his unforgettable, world-observing, questioning and trying to understand.
French author Murielle Szac has worked as a political journalist, been editor-in-chief at several children’s magazines and directed TV documentaries. She has also written several books for children, including The Adventures of Hermes and The Adventures of Theseus, and is currently the publisher of a children’s imprint at the French publishing house Actes Sud Junior.
RRP £16.99 Hardback
Horrid Henry’s Christmas Lunch by Francesca Simon
Horrid Henry would much rather have pizza and chips for his Christmas lunch, and this year, he might just get his way…
A classic Francesca Simon’s humorous book for early readers. Read London Mums’ interview with this amazing author in the London Mums Magazine Summer / Autumn issue 12.
Asterix & the Picts by R. Goscinny & A. Uderzo
Asterix and the Picts is the long-awaited 35th Asterix album, now in paperback for the first time! The Picts? Yes, the Picts! These people of ancient Scotland comprised many clans of formidable warriors. Their name, given by the Romans, literally means “painted men”. Asterix and the Picts continues in the tradition of the adventures of the most famous Gaul, an epic journey to a land rich in traditions and the discovery of a people whose cultural differences will result in memorable gags and wordplay. Great comic series for school children from year 5 onwards. Before then they would have fun watching the comic without being fully aware of the funny jokes and finesse of the language. This comic in particular features many stereotypes about the Scots: bagpipes, names beginning with Mac, the origins of Hadrian’s Wall and the Loch Ness Monster, kilts, red hair, cabers and whisky. The book does not aspire to provide a history lesson – it’s just a comic version of it. RRP £7.99
Spin the Globe: The Incredible Adventures of Frederick von Wigglebottom
Kids have enough distractions: smartphones and tablets, TV and video games. They need to learn more about the world around them. Travelling is great but when you cannot do it you can learn facts about fascinating countries through books. Any dad knows the challenge of trying to come up with new bedtime stories for his children. After exhausting every variation of bunny, frog, knight and princess stories he could come up with, Edward Moldenhauer took notice of the globe on a dresser. Edward’s children would use their finger to stop the globe, and wherever their finger landed, their dad had to tell them an impromptu story about that particular country or area. And that’s how the Frederick von Wigglebottom book series was born. Spin the Globe: The Incredible Adventures of Frederick von Wigglebottom is book series where Frederick, an avatar of Edward’s son who serves as the focus for questions and interactions with the other two supportive characters, is transported to a new and exciting country to explore in each edition. The first story of the series and takes place in Australia, the second one takes readers to Norway.
Author Edward Moldenhauer is a retired United States Navy pharmacist and military intelligence analyst. While having been published in several professional journals and co-writing The History of Pharmacy in the United States Navy, his true passion is honing up on “Ed’s useless trivia” to baffle friends and foes alike and to teach his children, Nicole and Eric, about every topic imaginable, sometimes to their dismay. Ed lives in Burleson, Texas, with his wife, Jo Ann; children; and two dogs, Freckles and Cocoa. When he’s not watching history shows or reading, he enjoys the outdoors and fresh air.
Erich Kästner’s THE FLYING CLASSROOM
Having studied German Literature and Philology at Uni, I cannot ignore Erich Kästner (1899-1974), one of the most admired children’s writers in the world. His books have sold millions of copies worldwide. He has been translated into dozens of languages. I am not alone in loving his work: Kästner is loved also by Quentin Blake, Michael Rosen, Philip Pullman and many others. Yet the award-winning and prolific Erich Kästner is still best known in the UK as the author of Emil and the Detectives. However, following the highly acclaimed National Theatre production of Emil last year, Kästner is being rediscovered by readers across the country, and Anthea Bell’s fresh translations of these wonderful ‘novels for children’ are simply essential reading.
It is important to shed some light into Kästner’s personal background to appreciate his work even more: He was the only author known to have attended the burning of his adult writings by the Nazis in 1933, and his subsequent blacklisting led to his becoming a dedicated children’s author – which is perhaps why he took children so very seriously. His protagonists are never ‘just’ children: they are resourceful and imaginative, clever, cheerful, funny and brave – as well as sad, anxious and fearful. They are, in short, just like adults. Which is the truth about children, and what makes Kästner irresistible even to readers of a rather more advancing age.
German literature is a hidden gem in world’s book world and I would recommend starting from this book Erich Kästner to start your own journey into a very meaningful storytelling. Mums can read this book with their kids and through this story explain them WW2.
Doctor Who: 12 doctors, 12 stories, 12 postcards
I am not a big fan of Doctor Who, but my 8 years old son seems to disagree. Storytelling is great apparently and this year there’s a more mature Doctor Who lined up. To celebrate the arrival of Peter Capaldi on to our screens as the newly regenerated Doctor, Puffin is reissuing its sensational series of Doctor Who short stories, each written by a different author but with an extra brand new twelfth adventure, available in eBook and as part of the 12 Doctors 12 Stories paperback anthology and special edition gift slipcase.
Marrying the most exciting names in children’s fiction with the longest running sci-fi TV show in the world, the coveted editions of 12 Doctors 12 Stories offer a truly unique literary experience. 12 Doctors 12 Stories features short stories for each of the 12 Doctors, written by Eoin Colfer, Michael Scott, Marcus Sedgwick, Philip Reeve, Patrick Ness, Richelle Mead, Malorie Blackman, Alex Scarrow, Charlie Higson, Derek Landy, Neil Gaiman and now, best-selling author and sci-fi fanatic, Holly Black has penned the newest story. RRP £18 and paperback anthology, £12.99. Suitable for kids aged 8+.
Write and Draw Your Own Comics
Write and Draw Your Own Comics is a DIY comic activity book for budding comic artists to imagine and draw their own comic strips. It is aimed at children aged 8+
Each double page has been developed and illustrated by a top comic artist, including Laura Howell from the Beano, Neill Cameron from the Phoenix, Jess Bradley and Freya Harrison, among others. This is a step by step beginner’s guide that takes children through all aspects of comicking, from creating quirky characters and drawing them in action to developing great stories and, eventually, creating amazing comic strips of their own. Full of inspiring ideas from superheroes vs robots to legendary fantasy quests to time travel, it is a proper activity book with lots of inspiring bubbles, tips, drawing ideas which is guaranteed to have children scribbling their way through the Christmas holidays. Before you know, you’ll have the next Lauren Child right in your household. Highly recommended workbook!
The Really Cool Activity Book
DK Christmas workbook will keep kids entertained over the Christmas period. RRP £4.99, dk.com
This book is what says on the tin: It shows the bizarre and unbelievable Colour Illusions and that everything is not what it seems. Did you know that people can see up to 10 million different colours? Or that yellow is the first colour your eye notices, making it perfect for warning signs?
Colour Illusions is fascinating both for kids and parents alike. The illusions start from the very first time you see the cover, and continue with each turn of the page with a dizzying array of flaps, tabs and spinning discs. Use the decoder with inbuilt 3D glasses to see colour changing and distorting before your very eyes.
From the third dimension to camouflage and pulsating patterns – get ready to really open your eyes to how colour can bend and boggle your mind! While the book emphasizes the illusions and delivers multiple wows per spread, there are more tricks up its sleeve with an amazing interactive 3D pop-up rainbow, plus explanations of the latest theories as to how the illusions fool us all.
An astonishing, mind-bending book that will make the whole family go “wow”. Aimed at 7+ children. RRP £15.99
THE PENCIL BOOK & THE PAINT BOOK by Miri Flower / Frances Lincoln
There are many books on the market about art & craft and I have already quite a collection. Even if I don’t do all the projects I read about, I certainly feel inspired and cannot get enough of them. These two books have lots of new ideas for things you can make or do with a pencil or paint. RRP £9.99 Paperback (each book).
The Paint Book and The Pencil Book are filled with inventive hints and tips for creative kiddies’ projects particularly useful during school holidays when parents are called upon to provide endless entertainment. Book books include bright photographs throughout. Kids can choose an activity to do every day from the books over the Christmas holidays. Each book is packed full of projects and creative inspiration.
The Paint Book explores how to: make spin art; paint with rain; make leaf bunting; print with bubbles; make a paper mosaic; recreate a masterpiece and more.
The Pencil Book teaches how to: send a secret drawing; make a spinning top; design a maze; make scratch art; make a mini movie; create see-through art and more.
MIRI FLOWER is the author of craft blog Here We Are Together, where she shares the activities of her craft-loving, happy and adventurous family. She lives on the south coast of England.
Monica Costa founded London Mums in September 2006 after her son Diego’s birth together with a group of mothers who felt the need of meeting up regularly to share the challenges and joys of motherhood in metropolitan and multicultural London. London Mums is the FREE and independent peer support group for mums and mumpreneurs based in London https://londonmumsmagazine.com and you can connect on Twitter @londonmums