Book review: A very special Christmas with Random House children’s books
Christmas is always truly special when Random House roll out their sackful of sparkling children’s books…
And this year their festive production line has been working overtime with a fantasy story that casts a snowy spell, a fairy tale with a delicious cast, a Roald Dahl cuddly classic and a thrilling journey with TV presenter Richard Hammond to the planet’s most puzzling places.
When It Snows by Richard Collingridge
Escape to a beautiful winter wonderland with a little boy and his cuddly teddy bear in Richard Collingridge’s truly enchanting Christmas adventure.
When everything grinds to a halt because of the snow, this winsome child and his teddy refuse to allow the weather to spoil their fun. They embark on an amazing journey in which they ride a polar bear and meet huge snowmen, an ice queen, elves, a giant reindeer and Father Christmas. And at the very end of the story, there’s a clever twist as we discover that he has simply become immersed in the magical scenes of his favourite book!
When It Snow is a wonderfully creative and romantic winter fantasy of atmospheric pictures and blazing fires which captures the true spirit of Christmas and delivers an inspiring story about the imaginative power of books.
A book for both children and parents to treasure…
(David Fickling Books, paperback, £6.99)
The Giraffe And The Pelly And Me Book & Toy boxset by Roald Dahl
Christmas just wouldn’t be Christmas without a very special Roald Dahl story and this timeless classic comes beautifully gift packaged complete with an adorable giraffe toy.
Take a giraffe with a magic neck, a pelican with a retractable beak and a very agile monkey, and what do you have? The world’s finest Ladderless Window-Cleaning Company, of course! Add in their friend Billy, the Duke and Duchess of Hampshire and the Cobra, the cleverest and most dangerous cat-burglar in the world and you have all the ingredients for a deliciously funny tale. And it’s all in the pursuit of walnuts, salmon and the pink and purple flowers of the tinkle-tinkle tree, not to mention the Grand Opening of The Grubber…
This sturdy, hardback edition, illustrated by the irrepressible Quentin Blake, is the perfect present for the youngest family members, introducing them to the world of books and play as well as one of the most popular children’s authors of all time.
(Jonathan Cape, paperback, £12.99)
Age 3 plus:
Fairies of Blossom Bakery: Plum and the Winter Ball by Mandy Archer and Kirsteen Harris-Jones
You too can go to the ball! Join the fabulous Fairies of Blossom Bakery as they get ready for an exciting winter party with incredible cakes and lots of delicious dramas.
Over the hills in a land of sweetness, little fairies bake and play. Would you like to peep at their secret, scrumptious world? Make a wish and then step into the magic of Fairycake Kingdom.
What could be better for little girls than this sparkling series about fairies, friendship and baking with a super recipe to try in every book? Author Mandy Archer’s enchanting stories are brought to life by Kirsteen Harris-Jones’s warm and endearing illustrations making an addictive mix of fairy magic, special friendships and crumbly cakes.
The first snowflake of winter falls and Plum and the fairies of Blossom Bakery are looking forward to Princess Crystal’s Winter Ball but who will be crowned the Snow Belle? Plum has been working hard to get better at skating and baking but on the day of the ball her cake’s a disaster and it’s all going horribly wrong. She’ll never be in the running for Snow Belle now… or can her fairy friends bring some festive cheer after all?
Each book has a mixing bowl of magical stories featuring fairies with their own quirky personalities who together explore the highs and lows of being friends. And on the last page of all the books there is a simple, easy-to-follow, illustrated recipe to try out with mum at home or with the class at school.
(Corgi, paperback, £5.99)
Age 6 plus:
Archie and Archie by Ruth Rendell
Writing doesn’t always have to be murder for crime fiction queen Ruth Rendell as she conjures up a captivating children’s story which is more a labour of love than a mystery masterpiece.
Archie and Archie is award-winning author Rendell’s first foray into children’s books and she gives star billing to her own characterful cat Archie who lives with her on a London street full of four-legged friends… and foes.
Archie the cat and Archie the dog live next door to each other and together the two pals get involved in all kinds of amusing and offbeat adventures, including Archie the cat spending a scary night trapped in a neighbour’s attic.
Illustrated by renowned artist Madeleine Floyd and with its funny but gentle, exciting and yet lyrical style, Archie and Archie is an enchanting and touching tale told with the passion of a cat lover and the talents of a born storyteller.
It would be a crime to miss out on such a magical and beautifully packaged gift book …
(Bodley Head, hardback, £7.99)
Blackberry Blue: And Other Fairy Tales by Jamila Gavin and Richard Collingridge
How about another classic book… this time, one in the making? The talented Jamila Gavin is an author to watch and these refreshingly original and exciting stories are guaranteed to enchant children of every age.
There are all the traditional fairy tale elements in these six magical stories but with a charming multicultural twist to give them added depth, scope and appeal.
Watch Blackberry Blue rise from the bramble patch, follow Emeka the pathfinder on his mission to save a lost king, join Princess Desire as she gallops across the Milky Way on her jet-black horse and journey with Chi on his perilous path to fortune and happiness.
Richard Collingridge’s stunning black and white illustrations provide excitement and atmosphere to a charismatic collection of beautifully written and imagined stories which children will want to return to time and time again.
(Tamarind, hardback, £9.99)
Age 8 plus:
Richard Hammond’s Great Mysteries of the World
For older and more daring children, there is the chance to head off round the globe with daredevil TV presenter and self-confessed mystery addict Richard Hammond as he uncovers some of the world’s most baffling enigmas.
Hammond whisks us away to the ancient pyramids, Stonehenge and the Bermuda Triangle as well as inviting us to join him as he hunts for werewolves, vampires, aliens and the Abominable Snowman. What really happened to the lost city of Atlantis, does the Loch Ness Monster exist and what’s the deal with aliens never having any hair?
Young explorers can help to solve challenges, gather clues, facts and interesting tales as they go but are warned not to get too distracted by Richard’s unbelievably terrible jokes! And it’s up to readers to decide what’s really going on.
It’s a dangerous, mysterious universe out there and this amazing, fully illustrated gift book will allow adventure-seekers to help find the answers from the comfort of their armchairs!
(Bodley Head, hardback, £14.99)