Saturday, December 14, 2019

Booky Advent Calendar Day 14: "Snow Leopard: Grey Ghost of the Mountain" by Justin Anderson and Patrick Benson (Walker Books)

In the realm of the Snow Leopard, in the cold crisp mountain air, this amazingly elusive predator reigns supreme.

Those of you who watched both of the BBC's "Planet Earth" documentaries will be familiar with the work of Justin Anderson and his amazing wildlife photography and filming, teaming up here with Patrick Benson for a dazzling and evocative look at the amazing Snow Leopard in "Snow Leopard, Grey Ghost of the Mountain".

Justin and Patrick have teamed up to 'storify' the amazing life and habitat of one of the world's most well known but often most misunderstood big cats.

In the harsh environment of the Himalayas, the snow leopard uses its excellent camouflage to stalk mountain goats and other creatures, picking its way carefully across rocky ravines and treacherous boulders, looking after its young and teaching them to tread in its velvety footsteps.

We loved the way this one instantly brought home the atmosphere and the amazing spectacle of these creatures in their native habitat in such a brilliant way. Not exactly a Christmas book but one that's perfect for this time of year as the first wisps of snow threaten to settle.

"Snow Leopard: Grey Ghost of the Mountain" by Justin Anderson and Patrick Benson is out now, published by Walker Books (kindly supplied for review). 
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Friday, December 13, 2019

Four corking Christmas books, fabulous gift ideas from New Frontier Publishing

Here's another bumper collection of Christmas book ideas, perfect as presents for younger readers, from innovative publishers New Frontier.

First up is "Santa's High-Tech Christmas" by Mike Dumbleton and Angela Perrine features a very cool Santa indeed.

He might be old but he's definitely not set in his ways, High Tech Santa is tuned into the world wide web and uses a tablet to keep track of his present list.

But what happens when technology fails? Poor Santa drops his tablet and it looks broken beyond repair. It's up to a plucky little girl to help out and show Santa how it's done.

Perfect storytelling for little ones looking forward to Christmas, particularly if they love their gadgets as much as we do (and as much as Santa does too!)

"Santa's High Tech Christmas" by Mike Dumbleton and Angela Perrine is out now, published by New Frontier Publishing.

Meet two distinguished gents in "Sir Darcy and the Christmas Pudding" by Alex Field and Peter Carnavas.

Mr Darcy loves making his famous Christmas pudding, taking lots of time and care over it and getting the ingredients and preparation just right. 

But an unexpected visitor arrives - Mr Collins. Normally Mr Darcy welcomes visitors but when there's a job to do, sometimes too many cooks spoil the broth (or in this case the pud!)

Hilarious and fun for little ones, "Sir Darcy and the Christmas Pudding by Alex Field and Peter Carnavas is out now, published by New Frontier Publishing. 


Oh dear! Well we all know the feeling in the next book, certainly after Christmas if not before. 

"Santa's Tight Squeeze" by Alex Field and Karen Erasmus tells a tale of what happens when Santa scoffs one too many of those mince pies you leave out for him (you DO do this, I hope!)

Santa's big belly gets bigger, and bigger, and bigger - until it's a struggle to climb down the chimney - and Santa gets royally stuck!!

OH NO!

What will happen? Will Santa wriggle free? Will he manage to finish off delivering presents on Christmas Eve? We know that there's always plenty of magic around at Christmas so you'd better pick up this fab and funny book to find out what happens. 

"Santa's Tight Squeeze" by Alex Field and Karen Erasmus is out now, published by New Frontier Publishing. 

Fabulous characters and a gentle and atmospheric story in our next title, "Marvin and Marigold: A Christmas Surprise" by Mark Carthew and Simon Prescott. 

The value of friendship is never greater than at this very special time of year and when Marigold receives a surprise Christmas gift on December the first, she can't wait to share the news with her best friend Marvin. 

Find out what these two cuddly little characters get up to as the snow lays deep and crisp and even on the ground, and the Christmas star flies overhead.

"Marvin and Marigold: A Christmas Surprise" by Mark Carthew andSimon Prescott is out now, published by New Frontier. 

One last brilliant book, and a classic story given a whole new lease of life with gorgeous illustrations. 

"The Night Before Christmas" by Clement C. Moore and Helene Magisson offers a delightful new version of a tale that has delighted children for generations. 

'Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse!

You know how it goes, but it's a jolly rhyme that just can't be beaten at this time of year. Helene's illustrations are fantastic, and this will make a perfect pressie for kids who aren't familiar with the story. 

"The Night Before Christmas" by Clement C. Moore and Helene Magisson is out now, published by New Frontier Publishing (all books Kindly supplied for review). 
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Booky Advent Calendar Day 13: "Peanut Butter and Santa Claus" by Joe McGee and Charles Santoso (Abrams Books for Young Readers)

Day 13 of our Booky Advent Calendar is a delicious romp through the snow. Wait a minute though, is snow supposed to taste sweet?

In "Peanut Butter and Jelly Santa Claus", Reginald (the zombie), Zarfon (the alien), and Abigail Zink (the human) are all preparing for Christmas in Quirkville

There's a problem though - Poor Santa is snowed in! Stuck at the north pole and unable to get his sled out to deliver presents all over the world.

Our three heroes decide to hatch a plan to save the day.

They load into Zarfon’s spaceship and head straight for the North Pole.




When they arrive, they find that Santa and his elves are trapped, not by snow, but by a marshmallow cream explosion.




With a little bit of creativity, a little bit of Christmas spirit, and one big KA-POW!, the pals from Quirkville save Christmas and inadvertently create a delicious treat!

A fun romp that'll satisfy the cravings of those of us with a really sweet tooth! "Peanut Butter and Santa Claus" by Joe McGee and Charles Santoso is out now, published by Abrams Books for Young Readers (kindly supplied for review)
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Thursday, December 12, 2019

Booky Advent Calendar Day 12: "The Little Fir Tree" by Christopher Corr (Frances Lincoln Children's Books)

On the twelfth day of our Booky Advent Calendar, our postie gave to us...a classic tale from Hans Christian Andersen, given a thoroughly modern and gorgeous makeover.

"The Little Fir Tree" retold and illustrated by Christopher Corr delves deep into the forest where a tiny lone pine tree grows.

The pine tree has ambitions to see the world, and when the tree is taken to town at Christmas, it feels like all his dreams have come true.

But what will happen the day after Christmas?

As the story of the little fir tree unfolds – brought to enchanting life with the colourful, folk art–inspired artwork of acclaimed author / illustrator Christopher Corr – so does a touching lesson on appreciating what we already have and a hopeful message of rebirth.

"The Little Fir Tree" by Christopher Corr is out now, published by Frances Lincoln Children's Books (kindly supplied for review). 
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Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Booky Advent Calendar Day 11: "Vegetables in Holiday Underwear" by Jared Chapman (Abrams Appleseed)

It's Day 11 on our Booky Advent Calendar and a subject that seems to make kids giggle uncontrollably.

The mere mention of the word "underpants" is enough to set them off, so in "Vegetables in Holiday Underwear" by Jared Chapman, expect a lot of guffaws, sniggers and titters.

There’s underwear for every day of the week and every month of the year. 

But come December, Pea proclaims to everyone who will listen that it’s his favorite time of the year! 

Having sets of underwear for all of the best holiday activities―playing in the snow, hanging the lights, and baking cookies. 

Plus, underwear makes the perfect gift! 



Everyone wants new undies, even . . . Santa?! 

Following on from his smash "Vegetables in Underwear" Jared gives everything a festive touch in this new fun book for the tiniest of little peas. 

"Vegetables in Holiday Underwear" by Jared Chapman is out now, published by Abrams Appleseed (kindly supplied for review). 
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Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Booky Advent Calendar Day 10: "The Christmas Unicorn" by Anna Currey (OUP / Oxford Children's Books)

Ah, Unicorns, still a firm favourite mythical beast - and there's no reason why they shouldn't be a central character in a fabulous warm-hearted Christmas story.

"The Christmas Unicorn" by Anna Currey is a gorgeous and atmospheric story set in the days leading up to Christmas, about one little girl's magical encounter with a unicorn.

Christmas is just days away. A little girl called Milly and her Mum are staying at Grandpa's house.

Dad has been kept away but will join them just as soon as he can.

But Milly feels a little forlorn, away from her friends and without her Dad.

But then something wonderful happens. Milly meets Florian, a unicorn.

One snowy night, he patters into Grandpa's house and transforms Milly's Christmas, filling it with friendship, surprise and sparkle.

Somehow, Florian makes all Milly's wishes come true.

Anna has crafted a beautifully written and sensitively illustrated picture book that will delight every generation as families come together at Christmas.

"The Christmas Unicorn" by Anna Currey is out now, published by OUP / Oxford Children's Books (kindly supplied for review). 
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Monday, December 9, 2019

Booky Advent Calendar Day 9: "Leah's Star" by Margaret Bateson-Hill and Karin Littlewood (Alanna Max)

Our Booky Advent Calendar Day 9 book is a rather brilliant version of the classic nativity story, brought to life through the eyes of a young girl at the time of Christ's birth. 

In "Leah's Star" by Margaret Bateson-Hill and Karin Littlewood, young Leah has never seen Bethlehem so busy. 

As the innkeeper's daughter she is rushed off her feet as so many guests have come to stay. 

Then in the starlight miracles begin! 

This beautiful, fresh new telling of the Nativity story, through the eyes of a young girl, brings a wonderful humanity to this familiar tale. 

With a story as ancient and familiar as the Nativity, its easy to forget the human drama at its centre a young woman about to give birth for the first time, far away from home, her mother and the women who would usually help her; the older Joseph, concerned for his young wife. 

By telling the story through the eyes of young Leah, Margaret Bateson-Hill allows the reader to see the humanity of the ancient story. 

The Nativitys innkeeper is often portrayed as a callous business man, turning the vulnerable couple away. 

But at the time of the census in Jerusalem, his rooms would have been packed with travellers not an ideal place for a young woman about to go into labour. 

In Leahs Star, we see his humanity in offering Mary and Joseph a warm, private space in his stable. 

Here is a young woman, about to go into labour who is helped by Leah and the local midwife. 

These details bring the old familiar story to new life in a timely and relevant way, echoing what many parents may be going through as they move to a new country away from their homelands. 

"Leah's Star" by Margaret Bateson-Hill and Karin Littlewood is out now, published by Alanna Max (kindly supplied for review). 
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Sunday, December 8, 2019

Booky Advent Calendar Day 8: "Father Christmas and the Donkey" by Elizabeth Clark and Ari Jokinen (Pikku Publishing)

A classic christmas story for Day 7 of our Booky Advent Calendar, brought to stunning life with new illustrations in this new print from Pikku Publishing.

Elizabeth Clark's timeless "Father Christmas and the Donkey" with illustrations by Ari Jokinen is the melancholy tale of a folorn donkey who seems destined to spend another Christmas all alone.

But there's Christmas magic in the air, and this year the sad donkey is befriended by Father Christmas on a cold crisp Christmas Eve and is given the unexpected Christmas Eve gift of a new home.

It's heart-meltingly gorgeous this one, and the new illustrations are destined to make this edition of the book a huge hit with a whole new generation of little ones. 

"Father Christmas and the Donkey" by Elizabeth Clark and Ari Jokinen is out now, published by Pikku Publishing (kindly supplied for review). 
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Saturday, December 7, 2019

Booky Advent Calendar Day 7: "The Tree That's Meant to Be" by Yuval Zommer (OUP / Oxford Children's Books)

Day 7 on our Booky Advent Calendar sees a very talented chap turn his hand to his first christmas book, with brilliant results in a timely and atmospheric story about the importance of our forests and wild habitats - but also a fantastic message about being happy with who you are.

"The Tree That's Meant to Be" by Yuval Zommer is a gorgeous Christmas picture book that's destined to become a festive classic.

A little fir tree is too small and too imperfect to be chosen at Christmas time.

But being left alone in the forest brings more rewards than the tree could ever have hoped for.

This is a charming picture book with a heartfelt message about love and embracing what makes us different. 

Families will love sharing the story and talking about kindness, generosity, and the true meaning of Christmas. 



As ever, Yuval puts his fantastic storytelling and non-fiction knowledge of nature to good use in the tale, weaving an attractive and evocative book world that slowly builds towards the tree's moment of triumph and that amazing feeling of belonging and family. 


"The Tree That's Meant to Be" by Yuval Zommer is out now, published by OUP / Oxford Children's Books (kindly supplied for review). 
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Friday, December 6, 2019

Three more awesome booky gift ideas for your own Booky Advent Calendars from Templar Publishing

We've got three more brilliant Christmas book ideas for your shopping lists, courtesy of Templar Publishing so let's dig in and take a look at these gorgeous titles.

"Follow the Star" by Andy Mansfield is a fab little pop-up book that captures the essence of Christmas with some nifty paper crafting and gentle storytelling.

Clad in a christmassy cover, it's a delightful journey for a very special star as it makes its way across the sky on Christmas Eve

Andy brings his brilliant graphic design and paper engineering skills to a fab book that's perfect for younger readers as they start getting excited about the build up to the big day.

"Follow the Star" by Andy Mansfield is out now, published by Templar.

Also from Templar, the perfect box set for fans of Sam Usher's "Seasons" series.

Gathered together in a beautiful hard-backed collection, these titles are already well-known and well-loved but this is a perfect opportunity to bag all four in a stunning set, perfect as a gift for a new arrival to the family.

"Spring", "Summer", "Autumn" and "Winter" feature Sam's gorgeously detailed artwork and gentle storytelling about a youngster and their grandad as they make the most of the seasons as they come and go.

The winter one will definitely make you wish for snow!

A fab gift idea, "Seasons" by Sam Usher is out now, published by Templar.

Last but not least, a book that comes straight from Santa's workshop!

"Santa's Christmas Handbook" is lovingly crafted by Santa's amazing elves, with loads of flaps to lift, and secrets to discover.

One of the best-kept secrets about Christmas is that Santa Claus is highly accident-prone and doesn't get on well with gadgets and gizmos! 

That's why his elves have written this handbook - it contains all the knowledge he needs to deliver presents to children around the world in one night. 

Packed with novelties to entertain and explain, discover Santa's reindeer tips, present prompts and useful tools like Santa Nav and the magical jingle bell that summons help.

Superb interactive fun for younger readers, "Santa's Christmas Handbook" is out now, published by Templar. 

(All books kindly supplied for review). 
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