Archive for December, 2011

With the kids all finished for Christmas (lucky them) now is the perfect time to get in the kitchen, roll up those sleeves and start on your Christmas baking. And who shows them how better than Usborne?

Christmas Cooking is part of the Usborne Activties series and features lots of recipes; sweet and savoury to get you in the festive spirit. From crinkly Christmas pies to iced gingerbread hearts, this book has it all. It features step-by-step illustrated and photographed instructions on how to get the best result. If anything is considered too difficult or dangerous for a child to do, then in lets you know parents should help at that stage…brilliant.

I’ve tried my hand at the gingerbread biscuits and they came out beautifully. They were meant to be added to the decorations on my tree but not all of them made it…nom nom nom.

A fantastic activity cookbook to fill up those hours inbetwen The Polar Express and The Muppet Christmas Carol!


Rebecca Gilpin & Catherine Atkinson


£4.99 PB



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This is a beautiful book, one I absolutely, have to, definitely, must own. ‘A Sky Full of Kindness’ tells the story of two birds who are about to become parents. Told through stunning paper cut shapes against contrasting black and white ; this truly is a masterpiece. Rob Ryan has treated us before with his beautiful artwork but this story is somehow more poignant, more touching (if that is at all possible).

As one review pointed out, the contrast of the black and white paper-cut shapes allude to the uncertainty and changing feelings towards first time parenthood. It’s appropriate, delicate and moving. Simply, stunning. This would appeal to those looking to share with their children about having another child or just those who want to delight in the pictures with their child, or simply for us adults who want to own another individually, beautiful book.

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This is a very special picture book. It stands out from the norm and belongs with the fairytale and gift book. For starters, it’s a hardback and would truly make a lovely, individual gift for somebody who loves picture books. The thing about this book is it will appeal to children but like Lane Smith’s ‘It’s a Book’ it has a little adult humour and the illustrative design will appeal to budding artists.

‘I want my hat back’ is all about the bear who has lost his favourite red hat. For every person he comes across on his walk, he asks if they’ve seen his hat but nobody has and none of them are exactly helpful! Until he comes across one pesky animal wearing something very familiar. This book will make you laugh and definitely appreciate the notion of ‘less is more’. Beautiful


Jon Klassen


£11.99 HB

Walker Books

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“I’m a real boy!”

Last year’s runaway bestseller in my children’s department was the pop-up sound book of Peter Pan. Publishedby Templar, they’ve deone a whole series including Aladdin and now Pinocchio. Open up each page to see a pop-up scene with fantastic, dramatic sounds to coincide with the magical story.

Films like Peter Pan and Pinocchio, I think, go hand in hand with Christmas and if you’re looking for something a little different which you know a child wont have, then this is it.

There’s an absolutely fantastic page which you open up wide to see Pinocchio’s nose extend right along the width of the book…and then some! He certainly hasn’t been telling the truth. A wonderful re-telling of a charming story…in a truly marvellous, original way.




£14.99 HB Pop-up sound edition

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I can’t walk past this book at work without sending Santa on his merry way. ‘Pull-back Busy Santa’ is a lovely toy book which has a plastic Santa on his sleigh for children to whizz round on four different tracks. From a starry, fairy-light filled village, to a snowy mountain scene, Santa goes all round the track again and again until he runs out of steam and you just pull him back and away he goes again.

The illustrations are so full and festive, there’s so much to look at; this book never gets boring. It’s a very entertaining book. If it entertains a grown woman, I can’t imagine the sheer delight it will bring to children’s faces.


Fiona Watt


£14.99 HB



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“A present full of presents.”

I couldn’t do a Christmas book advent and not include this national treasure. Of course, year after year it is given a too short print run and for our stores at least, it’s out of stock (for now) so if you don’t have a copy of this, snap it up as soon as you see it. It’s very hard to come by and I have my copy under lock and key.

The Jolly Christmas Postman is an homage to our lovely postmen of this country, walking street to street delivering packages and exciting letters (with not a bill in sight). Some of us may feel these days are long gone but my postman goes above the call of duty in delivering my endless book packages.In the summer, If i’m not in, he climbs over our six foot side gate (goodness knows how) and posts the package through a notched window round the side. I once came home to my cat in the utility room sink, sat on top of a package. Oh mr Postman, you have earnt a mince pie or two from me this year.

So, this book with its fantastic interative elements is a pure joy to sit down and look at. It’s so original in the concept of nursery rhymes and each letter is so carefully thought out. I just love it, it’s festive fun and the Postman certainly has an adventure in trying to get the post to everyone in the snow. Janet and Allen Ahlberg gave to the 90’s children what Julia and Axel are giving to the 00’s children. And how do we know they’re worthy children’s writers? We still want to read their books and go back to them today.

This is pure, festive fun and I see everyone’s faces light up again and again  as they turn every page.


Janet and Allen Ahlberg



£10.99 HB

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A beautiful, dramatic re-telling of the Aladdin story comes from masterful storyteller, Phillip Pullman. This hardback, illustrated edition is full of the wit and adventure which has allured children over many years. This really does make a lovely gift.

The illustrations, by Ian Beck; with their black theatre stage-like shadows really make the story and complement the magical nature of the story.

If anyone ever loved the Disney classic, then show them where it all started. Suitable for girls and boys.


Phillip Pullman


HB £12.99


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