Unfortunately this one didn’t arrive in time for Christmas but that’s no reason to hesitate in getting a copy ready for later in the year. This is a really cute rhyming story taking its cue from Clement Moore’s famous poem. Peppa and George like all small children are very excited about Christmas but it looks like there’s more to do than decorate and wait. Santa has a problem – his sleigh lights are broken and that’s going to make it really difficult to navigate around the world. Luckily Peppa has a great idea – her toy unicorn with its magical light up horn will be just the thing! Whew!! Christmas is saved and of course there’s celebrations in store for everyone – though Daddy Pig is rather bemused to look out the window on Christmas morning to see Santa delivering back Peppa’s unicorn.
Peppa Pig: Peppa Loves Easter
16 February 2021
On the other hand, this one has arrived in plenty of time for Easter. I don’t know about you but we have decided that our selection of Easter themed picture books is pretty tired and at times downright dreary so this will be a very popular addition. For little people in your circle – or for a gift for a first Easter – it will be just perfect!
This is truly adorable and if I were still working with little ones would definitely be inspired by the wonderful Easter egg-stravaganza Miss Rabbit organises for Peppa’s playgroup. Following a trail of clues the children decorate their own Easter cupcakes, make a card, decorate their own egg cup, walk through a field of pretty flowers and finally arrive to find lots of fluffy little chicks running around just waiting to be petted. All throughout this fun game the children are wondering where Miss Rabbit can be – after all she is the one who has organised all this for them. Among all the little chicks is a giant Easter egg – what could possibly be in it? A lovely surprise for the playgroup of course!
Both these titles have the delightful sparkly covers that are so enticing for little readers and both just beg to be read aloud.
Highly recommended for your tinies from around toddler upwards.
Well didn’t I feel so special when the lovely Bloomsbury Australia folk sent me these – knowing full well my HP obsession! And they will make the most highly-sought after Christmas gifts for any PotterHead in your circle too!!
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone: MinaLima edition
Even the Kid (not a HP fan – where have I failed???) thinks this is just superb! It’s the Philosopher’s Stone as you’ve never seen it before with simply stunning papercraft embellishments throughout as well as stylish bordered pages, full colour illustrations and arguably the most handsome binding I’ve ever encountered.
My able assistant agreed to show you just a couple of the enchanting surprises. First the entry to the Grynffindor common room – swing the Fat Lady’s portrait out to reveal the interior of the cosy room we all wish we could visit.
Next up this amazing fold out of Diagon Alley – have you got your sickles and galleons ready to spend? Just tap the right brick – away you go!
I suppose you could buy it for a child of your acquaintance – but really I think it will be we adults who will revel in this the most!
Christmas at Hogwarts: a movie scrapbook – Warner Bros
Bloomsbury Children’s Books
RRP: A$29.99 NZ $32.99
Another perfect Christmas gift filled with not only glorious stills from the movies including Harry’s first Christmas at Hogwarts, in The Burrow and the holiday spent in Grimmauld Place but with the most delightful inserts of various kinds: stickers, bookmarks, sketch designs of costumes, concept illustrations as well as other insights.
There are reflections from both the actors and film makers along with special informational pieces on decorating and festive traditions in the magical sphere. Christmas as celebrated by the witches and wizards we’ve come to love like family is a bright and beautiful experience and it would be a very hard-to-please recipient who wouldn’t treasure this for their HP collection.
Needless to say these are staying right on my HP shelf which is fast becoming fuller and fuller – and very likely will continue to do so!!!
But do rush out and buy these for someone you love – trust me, they will be so filled with joy! Thank you again to the lovely Sonia from Bloomsbury who knows me so well!! What a fabulous gift with which to end a year of reviewing for this wonderful publishing company!!
PS – I’m already planning our Harry Potter Night event for the start of Term 1 2021! Let the magic continue to sparkle!
It’s been a rather hectic time the past month or so. A new school, a new job always presents its challenges and a special kind of tiredness but in this – dare I say – year of unprecedented circumstances, perhaps even moreso. While I’ve done a fair bit of reading after crawling into bed exhausted each night, weekends have been so full that time to write reviews has been at a premium. Now I’m ready to rock and roll again and so I’m kicking off with a swag of Christmas books, both new and older – most for your little peeps but one for the discerning grown-ups as well.
Christmas Tales – William McInnes
OCT 27, 2020 | 9780733644733 | RRP $32.99
No doubt you know William for his extensive acting career but if you haven’t had the joy of reading any of his books why not make a start with this one? Of course, I am a little biased given our shared Redcliffe connection as well as the fact that I’ve had the joy of meeting him several times but he really is a supremely acute observer and hilarious raconteur which makes his memoir writing just delicious.
I can’t help it if I’m a boring conservative dag, but I love Christmas, always have and hopefully always will. Whatever brand of faith you fly under, even if you proclaim you don’t have one, Christmas is a time of generosity, good citizenship and decency.
This is a collection of anecdotes about celebrating Christmas as a child, a young man and now an older adult with many references to our home town but also peeks into other settings. All are laced with William’s own brand of quintessentially laconic larrikin humour and his unfailing ability to pinpoint the kernel of hilarity in each situation. Naturally I particularly loved the many insights into Christmas times in Redcliffe past but the acerbity is not confined to these.
Anyone with a fancy for some light and witty reading will love this – Australian readers will recognise many of the ‘types’ in characters and situations described but I would also suggest that if you have overseas friends to whom you gift, this would make a truly epic present. Of course, buying oneself a treat is always completely justified as well. For whatever reason, this is one to put on your ‘must read’ list.
Get in the hammock or deck chair or simply sprawl on a beach towel beside the sea (can’t go past Moreton Bay!) and soak up the happiness.
Highly recommended for anyone with a sense of humour – or those who need to acquire one!
Slinky Malinki’s Christmas 1 2 3 – Lynley Dodd
Even the Kid still loves Slinky Malinki the adorable scamp of a cat – possibly because our Whiskers closely resembles him!
For the little ones beginning their wondrous journey of books this delightful counting book in board format will make an excellent stocking stuffer.
We put our tree up over the weekend and because it hasn’t had an airing for two years we wondered how the cats would react, especially the kitten – so far, so good! But Slinky of course has other ideas. Tiny readers will delight in watching this rascally cat work his way up the tree pouncing on ornaments. Spotting the ornaments on the full illustration of the tree will add some fun for those a little older.
It goes without saying that Dame Lynley’s delightful illustrations will provide much enjoyment for both small and big people sharing the book.
Highly recommended for tiny humans from 0-5 years old.
The Christmas Tale of Peter Rabbit – Emma Thompson
Imprint: Warne ISBN: 9780241427279
First published 2013 and this edition 2018
The joy that is Peter Rabbit continues over a hundred years since his original creation by Beatrix Potter – witness the huge success of the recent movies. Emma Thompson, award-winning acress and screenwriter, has taken up the challenge of continuing the legacy left us by B.P. in the most charming way.
‘Rabbits are always very uppity during the Christmas season, and Peter Rabbit was no exception.’
We all know Peter has a talent for mischief and when he pairs up with his cousin Benjamin, even more so! But we also know he is essentially a very kind little bunny and when the pair make a new friend, William the turkey, they are shocked to find out that the bird is intended for Mr MacGregor’s Christmas dinner. Of course, they are not going to let that happen!
Emma Thompson’s continuation of Peter’s adventures is a loving tribute to the style of the original books and the delightful illustrations by Eleanor Taylor likewise reflect the charm of those of Beatrix Potter. A beautiful hardback edition with both dust jacket and binding so superb it’s hard to decide which I like best – and the most adorable endpapers, this is one to make a little person very happy indeed.
If you are searching for a special gift for a newly independent reader this is one that will be treasured and re-visited with great love.
Highly recommended for readers from around 4 years to 8 years old.
What Do You Wish For? – Jane Godwin & Anna Walker
Imprint: Picture Puffin
Originally published in 2015 and then re-issued in softcover some years later this is book which begs to be brought out each Christmas and perhaps, this year, more than ever. Read here for Jane’s own reflections on the inspiration for the book and her thoughts about gratitude.
Ruby loves the magic of Christmas – the fun and the lights, the presents and the baking and of course, Christmas wishes. But while the other children in the street are busily writing their wishes for the special wishing tree, Ruby decides to write down all the things that make Christmas truly magical. As we know, and try to impart to our little people, the true meaning of the festive season goes well beyond the fripperies and fun.
To encourage your readers to think more deeply about the real spirit of Christmas, definitely add this one to your list.
Highly recommended for readers from around 6 years upwards.
The First Christmas – illustrated by Jess Racklyeft
Being in a Christian school my library team and I feel it is particularly important to have a collection that reflects the spirituality that imbues our whole curriculum. This year we had commented that many of our books for little people were very tired-looking and certainly lacked engaging appeal – and had decided that a goal for next year is to improve this situation.
This absolutely charming picture book captures the essence of wonder and amazement that is the Nativity and is definitely one we will be promoting in our re-vamped collection. Retold simply and celebrating the true spirit of Christmas as well as the hope and joy brought to the world over 2 000 years ago, this is a modern classic which should be standard fare for any library collection as well as home bookshelves.
There are stunning double spreads as well as smaller illustrations all emphasising the idea of family at the heart of this event – a notion that surely continues today and particularly this year when so many families have struggled with separations and disappointments.
Needless to say, I suggest this is a must for your gift or order list and a book to which readers will return again and again.
Wishing all the lovely peeps who either read my blog regularly or pop in occasionally a wonderful and safe festive season. The Kid and I are now both on holidays after a pretty monumental year all round and are thankful to have some time to recharge. I am about to start my best and last job ever in the New Year as Head of Library at a wonderful school and the Kid goes into year 9.
The Kid gave up horse riding but started Navy Cadets and is loving it – especially after the weekend break-up camp she just had! Winning the Best Costume on Friday’s fun night for her Morticia was just one highlight with canoeing and water park play as well as her first formal navy dinner. Next year she wants to have a go at drama classes as well so suffice to say that in the past four years her self-confidence has soared. She read her first ever novel – and got the Overall Academic Award at the end of school celebration.
We’re off to NSW tomorrow to spend Christmas with family – please help us pray for everyone’s safety in the terrible fires not only in the Blue Mtns where we will be but all over our beautiful country.
I’m taking books with me (of course!) but won’t be posting reviews until we get back at the end of the month at least.
Thanks for visiting this last blog post of this decade – and I look forward to bringing you more reviews next year!
As the weeks go rushing past and in no time it will be time to hang the stockings we all seem to go into a kind of frenzy of ‘what to get for..?’.
There are some very cute new books for little people which would make great stocking stuffers:
Peppa’s Christmas Jumper Day
Yep, we’ve all been there – when the kid says ‘I need this (outfit) for tomorrow.’ I’ve had to make rush Virgin Mary costumes and Captain Cook complete with tricorn so I feel the pain.
When Peppa announces that the next day is Christmas jumper day at playgroup there’s a scramble for the box in the attic to retrieve last year’s jumpers. The problem is that Peppa and George have grown through the year and their jumpers no longer fit them. George can wear Peppa’s but what will Peppa wear?
Luckily Daddy Pig is one inventive and creative papa and saves the day with flair…and glitter!
Tiny tots would love this colourful board book with its familiar characters and not only does it make it a great gift for your child but 10% of the RRP will be donated to Save the Children – win win! Highly recommended for babies to preschool age.
The Lonely Christmas Tree – Chris Naylor-Ballesteros
Imprint: Bloomsbury Children’s Books
What an exquisite little jewel of a book! Inspired by ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas children will love the story of the last lonely tree on the hillside who finds happiness at Christmas and finally is surrounded by love.
The illustrations are just truly beautiful and many children will recognise the ‘rhythm’ of this text if they have heard the original inspiration.
The underlying message about loneliness and the joy of being together with friends is very timely for the festive season and I believe that young readers will rejoice that the little tree is no longer alone.
Highly recommended for reader from around 5 years upwards.
I’m Ready for Christmas – Jedda Robaard
This is the introduction to a gorgeous new series of colourful board books especially for Australian children and celebrating the special events in a little person’s life. I love the idea behind this series which is to bridge the gap between early concept books (ABC, numbers etc) and standard picture books. What is even more attractive is the truly Australian flavour throughout.
The days are getting warmer and longer.
Cicadas are buzzing in the trees.
Like all of us little Miss Wombat knows that this means that Christmas is close and the preparations including making 3 x great-grandmother’s pudding and wrapping gifts combine with reflection on all that has happened throughout the year.
Naturally the book concludes with a beautiful family feast.
I’m Ready for Preschool – Jedda Robaard
And following hard on the heels of Christmas hundreds of little ones will be getting ready for preschool/prep/kindy which is both exciting and a little anxiety-making at the same time.
I’m trying something new soon. Something new and exciting . . .
Little Koala is a little bit nervous about starting preschool but like so many others is having quite a bit of fun testing out his backpack, water bottle and hat. And once he’s taken that first big step into the room and starts playing with new friends all his worries disappear.
Once again so many littlies will readily identify with this simple but effective story and they will see themselves as they too prepare for their first big leap into the wider world.
Stay posted for the next two in the series, coming in March 2020 – Easter and New Baby.
The perfect double for a little pre-preschooler of your acquaintance or if your school has an early childhood centre attached – a great addition to the shelves.
For almost forty years the Hippopotamus has entertained children with its antics and now there’s a super new Christmas book to kick off another generation of young fans.
The family of the house in question are busy preparing for Christmas with many activities with which young readers will readily identify – decorating, baking, dancing and general frivolity. All the while the Hippopotamus continues its own preparations – with a few mishaps such as sitting on its Xmas tree inadvertently!
Watch little eyes light up as they explore the details of each illustration and enjoy the chortles of the Hippo’s Christmas. And they will just love the Hippo’s sparkly appearance on the front cover!
Hazel Edwards and Deborah Niland have given Australian children (and adults) an iconic character who has provided all with some memorable adventures over the years. Let’s hope they continue to do so for many more to come!
Highly recommended for little readers from around 2 years upwards!
ISBN: 9781922244550 Imprint: Walker Books Australia
Australian RRP: $39.99 New Zealand RRP: $44.99
Hoffman’s original German publication has rarely been translated in full to English but this new bicentennial edition celebrates that first publication ably translated by Anthea Bell.
Of course Hoffman’s story remains timeless and is arguably most famous for being the inspiration for Tchaikovsky’s much-loved ballet, performed all over the world and especially as part of the traditional Christmas festivities.
For me the real highlight of this volume is it’s continuation of the Illustrated Children’s Classics series, with the absolutely superb illustrations of [Australian] Robert Ingpen.
I know that many have their favourites in this series – mine: Treasure Island and The Jungle Book – but the exquisitely detailed artwork ensure this will be a sought after volume for those who both love the story, Ingpen’s magnificent work and of course the ballet.
If you are looking for a special gift for a lover of any of these, this is the book for you.
If you are especially seeking the perfect present for a ballet lover then make sure you also buy the next book in this review.
The Nutcracker – The New York City Ballet: Illustrated by Valeria Docampo
Simon & Schuster Children’s UK |
ISBN 9781471161162 |
The NYC Ballet is well known both for bringing the story of ballet to young readers and for its outstanding production of The Nutcracker. The company’s performance of this ballet is considered the penultimate around the world. In 1948 George Balanchine and Lincoln Kirsten founded the company and Balanchine’s ‘quintessential’ production of The Nutcracker remains the benchmark for all others.
The storyline follows the choreography of the ballet and the illustrations are based on the actual sets and costumes of the production. For young (or old) readers this will be a virtual attendance at the performance so loved by so many.
For all the ballet dancers or those who love the ballet, this would make a beautiful Christmas present.
Now that school holidays have arrived, I will be spending time catching up with piles and piles of review books. Some will be posted during the holidays, others scheduled for the new school year.
In the meantime, I wish you all and your families a safe and super festive season, from me and mine.
It would seem likely from the account of Moore’s famous poem’s origins that he would never have imagined that, almost 200 years after writing it, that it would be arguably the best known of Christmas stories/verse. Originally entitled A Visit from St Nicholas, this enduring testament of love for one’s family, was first published when a friend of the Moore family heard of it from the Moore children, copied it and sent it to a publisher. It not only set in metaphorical cement the images we now hold about Santa Claus but also gave his magical reindeer names which everyone can recite off at the drop of a hat (well, can’t you?!).
Now Richard Johnson has brought his award-winning style to a new edition with such beautiful ‘soft focus’ style illustrations, that we could almost believe we were dreaming that we too saw St Nick, as Small and I read it for our ‘last day before Christmas’ story.
This picture book is the perfect way to introduce this classic poem to a new audience with the illustrations being wonderfully timeless in their depiction of interiors and fashions.
This new edition is a must for your library shelves (and home shelves) in my opinion, for surely, no Christmas is complete without it’s retelling as the magic swirls in the air and little ones expectantly lay out their Santa sacks (pillowslips, stockings!) and leave out treats for the jolly old elf and his clever reindeer.
And so I come to the end of my Christmas countdown – Small and I have loved sharing our reading with you all.
Yes, this is a ‘Christmas’ book but it’s not the last in my countdown. This one arrived today and when Small and I went to the pool for an hour or so this afternoon, because I didn’t want to get in the water today, I grabbed the first book off the pile – and read it within an hour.
So after that subtle recommendation, let’s explore some more. I am not familiar with Chris Priestley’s work – no doubt, because the supernatural/paranormal genre is not one for which I usually opt. But reading a little of his bio, it seems this ‘master of the macabre’ loves nothing better than to take a traditional Gothic horror story and put a complete new twist on it.
And this he has done with A Christmas Carol. I really like Dickens: but I’m not an Egghead knowing all there is to know about every book, and while I like A Christmas Carol it has never been my favourite, and I had completely forgotten about the two ‘wild’ children hidden underneath the robes of the Ghost of Christmas Present. Ignorance and Want – these two feral children become the focus of this side stepping of the original story, taking the reader into the dark and disturbing world of Dickens’ London.
Written in a style that will totally captivate those young readers who relish a bit of spookiness, this story is new, fresh and engaging while completely retaining the pervading message of the original novel.
I’m giving this a big thumbs up and will definitely be promoting it to Middle School next year – creepy but not horrific, matter of fact but not graphic (about the dire circumstances of London’s poor) and totally resolved in a satisfactory manner.
I’d be grabbing this one for your library shelves – readers around 11 to 15 would love it I believe – it’s a brilliant segue into hardcore Dickens!
RRP (per Riverbend Books) $12.99 as a 2009 published board book edition
Lucky enough to have a signed copy of this one – which has been a favourite for years. Heath McKenzie brings his own unique illustrative style to a different take on the old standard.
Small does enjoy this version – but possibly mostly because of my crazed out-of-breath reading of it, which seems to fit the illustrations! – she does find the possums a tad evil looking as they maniacally play their video games. I rather like the ‘Eight flies feasting’ because, after all, what is Christmas (and summer) in Australia without the wretched things.