Sally Poynton has started a brilliant campaign this year: A Book in every Stocking. I wholeheartedly agree, and of course MG & DG will be getting a few books under the tree.
But for many children this is not the case, and if you can give the gift of a book to a child this Christmas, please do. Blackwell’s in Oxford have a Children’s Book Tree to collect gift books for The Children’s Society. You will probably find a similar scheme running somewhere near you if you’re not in Oxford.
Here’s a roundup of a few recently published books worth considering this Christmas (or any time!)
Flying to Neverland with Peter Pan: Betty Comden, Adolph Green, Carolyn Leigh & Amy June Bates (Blue Apple Books, 2012)
This stunning picture book covers the start of the Peter Pan story where Peter gets his shadow from Wendy and the children fly to Neverland. The text is lyrics from the musical (which I’d never heard of before to be honest, but you can listen to at the Blue Apple website) but it is the art that really makes this book. Peter Pan is a story that I need to re-read as an adult to make any commentary on, but due to strange co-incidences there are people named Peter, Wendy, Michael, John, James and Matthew in my very close family (the J.M. of J.M. Barrie being James Matthew), so I always feel a connection to the book. There are no Tinkerbells or Hooks in my family that I know of! I can’t say the songs are my kind of thing, but I liked musicals when I was younger and if your children are anything like mine they’ll listen over and over and start singing and acting along with the book, so it’s a good wake up exercise book too! Alternately, you can snuggle together and share the beautiful illustrations. Perfect for fans of musicals of all ages, and a lovely Christmas gift book.
The Phlunk: Lou Rhodes & Tori Elliot (Strata Books, 2012)
The Phlunk is a cat-like alien who lives on a moon shaped like a spoon. His huge ears mean he can hear everything you do… MG & DG really enjoy this book, getting engaged throughout: “He’s listening to us now!” I really want to like this book, but it’s just not my cup of tea and I find some of the pictures quite scary-looking. However, my opinion doesn’t count and MG described the book as “supurve”. I said I’d write superb but she corrected me saying supurve meant super-dooper brilliant. So there you go! This is MG’s top pick of this week’s books.
The Silent Owl: Clemency Pearce & Sam McPhillips (Top That! Publishing, 2011)
This is a lovely book. The collage-style pictures which look like they’ve been made from old notebooks, the muted colour palette, and I love that the font used is a primary font making it easier to read (b/d easily distinguishable; a is round with a circle how most children write; l is clear etc etc). However in my opinion the text lets this book down and makes this merely a good book rather than the brilliant one it could have been. It’s an example of where a rhyme has been forced to fit, when prose might have worked better. Despite my misgivings about the text, this is still one of my favourites for all the positive reasons, and MG and DG love all the noise the owl makes at the end. A positive tale showing you don’t need a voice to make an impression, I probably love it because I was such a shy child myself.
One Starry Night: M Christina Butler & Tina Macnaughton (Little Tiger Press, 2012)
Cute fluffy animals and bright silver stars adorn every page of this perfect-for-bedtime tale. Little hedgehog spies some shooting stars and rushes to share with all his friends. Friend rabbit tries to catch the stars with a net and all the friends end up in dark badger’s sett needing to find their way out. The bright stars lead the way so they can all enjoy the beautiful night sky. A gentle, calming tale with adorable animals. The silver foil stars give added interest but very young children will probably adore all the animal characters, and can be introduced to animal homes and the sky at night in a safe, non-threatening manner.
Zoom, Rocket, Zoom: Margaret Mayo & Alex Aycliffe (Orchard Books, 2011)
This is a brilliant book for introducing the concepts of what people have achieved in space – satellites, lunar modules, robot rovers, astronauts… All with some lovely rhythmic text. A great book for toddlers and up, the clear and brightly coloured illustrations have enough detail to be interesting without being overwhelming for younger children. This is part of a series from the same author & illustrator featuring animals, vehicles, dinosaurs etc. I wish we’d found them when MG & DG were younger as I probably would have collected several of them! It’s sad to think that the images of astronauts on the moon is actually a long-distance memory, the last person on the moon having left before I was born, but the pictures are iconic and I know I would have absolutely loved this book when I was a child (I was space-mad!) It’s definitely a book I would gift to encourage the start of a love of space and science in small children, and would be enjoyed by children who prefer factual to fiction books. This is DG’s top pick of this week’s books.
Wibbly Pig has 10 Balloons: Mick Inkpen (Hodder Children’s Books, 2011)
For small fans of Wibbly Pig, this is a lovely book which includes some counting backwards practice as Wibbly Pig gives his balloons away one by one to his friends. But not the Teddy Bear balloon, because that’s his favourite. There’s a bit of tension as a tantrumming
toddler pig loses Wibbly’s last two balloons but of course all ends happily with every friend getting a balloon that suits. Cute, minimally illustrated with easy text, this is one suitable for toddlers, pre-schoolers, and all Wibbly Pig fans.
For Christmas-focussed #Book_in_every_stocking ideas, please see Advent Books posts.
Disclaimer: We received review copies of all six books from their respective publishers. No other financial reward was given and the opinions are my own. I was not asked to write this post.