Thursday, 19 October 2017

Santa Claus is coming to town! There's a real art to writing great children's christmas books - A ReadItTorial

Christmas in the publishing industry probably starts to gear up sometime around Boxing Day the year before (or so we'd imagine).

Certainly we're long past that red letter day - the day we usually get our first Christmas title to review - and this year once again we'll be bringing you a stunning Booky Advent Calendar full of amazing books to share with your little (and not so little) ones.

What's actually surprised us both this year is not only the sheer number of books we've been sent for review for this year's christmas rundown (and, hah, we're not even done yet by the look of it) but the sheer quality of titles on offer this year. Brand new books that once again prove that children's authors and illustrators are amazing people who can produce stunningly original stories even for the festive season.

We won't start naming names (we'll let you decide just how great these books are once the calendar turns over to December 1st and you see the first Booky Advent Calendar entries popping up). But for us it's felt like this year has been even more amazing than ever, with virtually all of the publishers who are kind enough to send us items for review really pushing the boat out with a spectacular lineup for Q4, the time of year when those all-important christmas lists are being made, and (we hope) loads of kids are sticking books down on their lists with gusto.

We have tried to filter our Advent Calendar list down to titles that are festive (or at least have something to do with Christmas, perhaps even crisp winter snow) and it's actually been a true pleasure not only to read the books but to write about them.

That's fairly unusual these days as Charlotte gets older, and is now (worryingly) even progressing swiftly past MG and early chapter readers onto much more wordy fare.

I remember the books that I craved more than anything else as Christmas Presents...

  • Annuals (particularly "funny" comic annnuals) - I just couldn't get enough of them, even the cheesiest TV tie ins (happy memories of those awesome Space 1999 annuals, yes showing my age there I fear!)
  • The Guinness Book of Records. Again, an easy win for little me and it's great to see that in an increasingly online world, kids still get a kick out of a big fat encyclopaedic roundup of all the tallest, shortest, thinnest, fattest or fastest record breakers on the planet. 
  • Anthologies. I am so happy to see these coming back into fashion. We've seen some absolute corkers this year and it's great to see several this year with contributions from some of our most favourite folk working in kidlit today. 
  • Non Fiction. Again, nothing would make me happier as a kid than getting a great non-fiction book about cars or planes, or just something cool from DK, Usborne or the like. 
Charlotte's christmas book wishlist always looks something like this...

  • Activity books - She just can't seem to get enough of them, though nowadays she loves art tutorial type books rather than anything involving makes (which is a bit sad, as we've seen some utterly brilliant make books this year)
  • Colouring books - Again, can't get enough of them - she's really loving the Harry Potter colouring books more than anything else, and there have been several new additions this year that we'll inevitably catch up with. 
  • Top Model books. I absolutely HATED the sight of these when I first saw them, until I heard a fashion student at a recent school visit tell Charlotte that they A) still use them in class and B) the mannequin templates etc in those books are actually really useful for learning anatomy and form, and applying it to fashion design templates.
  • History books. I know, weird child. But hey, definitely not complaining! There are so many great non-fic history titles around at the moment, we're spoilt for choice. 
  • Funny chapter books. She's completely bowled over by a particular chapter book entry in our Booky Advent Calendar. So much so that she's been pushing her friends to pick up a copy so they can all talk about it together (she's not on commission or anything - maybe she should be!)
Christmas is always booky at home, whatever else happens - so we hope it's the same in your house, and that you find as much enjoyment in this year's new publications as we have - you really are living in an amazing time for children's publishing so definitely make the most of it!