Brave Dave

Brave Dave
Giles Andreae and Guy Parker-Rees
Orchard Books

Reading Giles and Guy’s fantabulous book made me want to get up and dance around the room in delight: it’s absolutely brilliant and maybe for me even outshines Giraffes Can’t Dance.

It’s the story of little bear Dave who reveres and is awed by his braver, stronger older brother, Clarence. he even tries to emulate his big bro. until one day this little bear who much prefers gentle creative pastimes, decides he’s no match for Clarence. Sad and lonely off he goes for a solo walk
but on the way home something catches his eye that lifts up his heart and soul.

Next day he starts collecting beautiful things but fearing ridicule, off he goes to hide himself away each night. Little does he realise that others are watching him however.

One day when he’s summoned up sufficient courage he calls all the animals to his den and then gives something to his brother

before going on to reveal how he’s been spending his time.

Be brave enough to be yourself and celebrate your uniqueness: what a terrific life-affirming lesson for little Dave and there’s an important life lesson for his fellow animals too: accept people for what they are and celebrate difference.

Giles’ rhyming narrative is a joy to read aloud and what a fabulous finale. Guy’s illustrations are out of this world gorgeously uplifting. I can’t wait to share this far and wide; it’s a must have for classrooms and family bookshelves.

Monster Christmas

Monster Christmas
Giles Andreae and Nikki Dyson
Orchard Books

As Christmas approaches, Father Christmas, relaxing by the fire, is feeling somewhat jaded with his creaky knees; he seems to have lost the zest for that delivery job of his. Perhaps it’s finally time to recruit a replacement – someone special – young and different – to take on the role of spreading kindness and good cheer. He writes a wanted notice and duly dispatches it.

Meanwhile in distant Monster Land a family talks over tea. Little Monster informs his parents that it’s time for him to see more of the world.
Just as he’s uttered his intention, what should come wafting in but that note of FC’s.

Then having bid his parents a fond and hasty farewell, he’s up and off trudging through chilly weather, destination the North Pole and Father Christmas’s front door.

There he is eagerly recruited, and a training regime begins. It’s not too long before he’s declared ready for the task

and so off he sets, destination this time, a shopping mall, therein to erect a grotto wherein to welcome all the little children.
Things don’t go quite as planned however as it’s with terror not seasonal delight, that Monster Christmas is received. Sob sob – that’s the monster, not the children who scream and shout. Surely things will improve thinks our optimistic would-be gift bestower. Instead there’s not a single house in a single town prepared to welcome Monster Christmas and his sleigh that year.

Exhausted, the reindeer plummet earthwards to land right on the edge of the world and it’s there that a lonely young lass lies abed slumbering in her cosy igloo.

Will she too send little Monster Christmas packing? What do you think?

With its wonderfully heart-warming conclusion, Giles Andreae delivers a terrific rhyming narrative that will certainly remind readers and listeners of what Christmas is really all about. Nikki Dyson’s depictions of Monster Christmas will definitely win him countless admirers with his adorable demeanour and positive attitude against all the odds.

Monstrous fun: this one’s an instant winner in my book and so it will be with youngsters who will definitely demand frequent re-readings during the build-up to yuletide. Teachers, just think what a smashing school festive performance this would make.

Winnie-the-Pooh The Great Heffalump Hunt / Goldilocks and the Three Potties

Winnie-the-Pooh The Great Heffalump Hunt
Giles Andreae
Egmont
My initial thought on opening the parcel containing this book was ‘Oh no! Messing around with Pooh Bear!’ But then I read the rhyming story aloud all the way through and was utterly enchanted: it is Giles Andreae after all and he knows how to write a rhymer if anyone does.

The story simply trips off the tongue rather like that delicious honey that Pooh just cannot resist consuming; even when it’s his very last jar: and it’s supposed to be Heffalump-catching bait in the pit that Piglet has dug in the hope that it, rather than ‘Fresh Piglet(s)’ will become the creature’s next feast.
That jar of honey in our trap.” / groaned Pooh, “it was my last. Oh bother! Double bother! / And if no-one’s listening, / BLAST!

So saying, off goes Pooh, leaving Piglet all alone in bed, pondering on the “horrid, hairy Heffalump” and whether it will indeed, prefer the sweet sticky stuff or “juicy piglets in his tummy.” But then before you can say ‘Heffalump’ it’s time for Piglet to foray into the forest and see what, it anything is in that pit.

Delicious! It certainly left me, and my listeners, hungry for more …

Goldilocks and the Three Potties
Leigh Hodgkinson
Nosy Crow
Even fairy tale characters have to learn about using a potty; young Goldilocks is no exception. Fed up with soggy nappies, she decides it’s about time she began wearing “Big girl pants’ instead. – so long as she has the perfect pair _

Of course, though, wearing pants means remembering to use a potty when you need a wee: that too has to be just right. Then there’s the question of timing: there are occasions when it seems you really need to go but it turns out to be a false alarm; other times you might leave it a little too late …

Sure enough though, Goldilocks soon gets the hang of things making her mum and dad very proud parents indeed.
Just the book to share at home or in a nursery setting, with toddlers embarking on potty training; and equally those just past that stage who will delight in Goldilocks’s toileting activities from their own slightly superior, ‘been there’ standpoint.
There is plenty to amuse in Leigh Hodgkinson’s scenes be they indoors or out in the woods. The infant Goldilocks is an adorable character and that final spread will surely make readers aloud chuckle as much as their young audiences.

I’ve signed the charter 

 

Sprinkle with Kisses / I Love My Grandad

Sprinkle with Kisses: A Spoonful for Bunny
Sprinkle with Kisses: Sweet Dreams, Baby

Emma Dodd
Orchard Books
Two board book recipes, full of love: one for a tasty cookie mixture comprising tickles, giggles, smiles, cuddles, sighs,

snuggles, hugs and kisses; the other a formula for a peaceful, good night’s sleep. For this you need a cosy bed, a warm hug, a favourite teddy, a soothing lullaby, not forgetting that ‘sweet kiss goodnight.

With super-cute illustrations of adorable infants and gentle rhyming texts, what more can any baby ask, other than a loving adult to read these enchanting books?

I Love My Grandad
Giles Andreae and Emma Dodd
Orchard Books
The toddler narrator of this celebration of the love between a grandfather and grandchild clearly demonstrates how much the youngster relishes the time he spends with his own special Grandad: an amazing assembler and supplier of explanations; full of wisdom; adventure loving; a fun-fan; up for anything, even when it’s exhausting. This grandad is ready to play whatever the weather; loves to reminisce and is the perfect person for a prolonged chat. Seemingly too, he is able to pack a great deal into a single day demonstrating his love in so many different ways.

Celebrating another special relationship, this new addition to the ‘I Love’ series exudes warmth and tenderness with every turn of the page and is just right for sharing with that very special grandad.

I’ve signed the charter  

Piranhas Don’t Eat Bananas / Be Brave Little Penguin – Stepping out of your Comfort Zone

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Piranhas Don’t Eat Bananas
Aaron Blabey
Scholastic Children’s Books
Brian is anything but your normal piranha; Brian feeds on fruit and veg. – bananas, silverbeet, (the Australian word for chard) peas,

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and plums; and he’s on a mission to convert his fellow piranhas to a similar diet. They instead gorge themselves on feet, knees and bums! They’ll need to nibble through those boxers first though …

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Despite their fervent declaration “We don’t eat apples! We don’t eat beans! We don’t eat veggies! We don’t eat greens! We don’t eat melons! We don’t eat bananas! … “ can he persuade them to sample something from his tempting-looking fruit platter?

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Perhaps; but the allure of bum consumption will surely reign supreme.
Brian’s dietary requests will undoubtedly resound with many adults trying to persuade their offspring, or others to eat more healthily; young children will definitely laugh uproariously over the use of ‘bum’ and both will appreciate the subtle visual differences between Brian (no warts, no red tinges to the sclera of the eyes, even perhaps a slightly healthier-looking green hue about his skin) and his fellow piranhas. They’ll also love Brian’s wonderful facial expressions.
Flesh-eating, fruit eating, rhyming hilarity but with an important message too. Sample and see!

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Be Brave Little Penguin
Giles Andreae and Guy Parker-Rees
Orchard Books
Pip-Pip is a tiny penguin, smaller than all the other penguins and he has a problem: he’s too scared to go in the water. He gets taunted by his fellow penguins which makes him sad and sometimes, lonely. His dad insists he should be brave; but mummy penguin takes over with a more gentle approach leading him by the wing towards the icy-looking water.

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Brrr! It looks freezing and there might be monsters waiting to eat him. He clearly has a fertile imagination so his mum capitalizes on this, suggesting an alternative for him to imagine;

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and step-by-step they go till Pip-Pip’s right at the water’s edge. He just needs to take that final plunge …
A gentle rhyming story with important messages about risk-taking for both children and adults. Parker-Rees’ icy-fresh illustrations convey the Antarctic chill but there’s also a warm glow to the sky making it less threatening for Pip-Pip and his young audiences alike.

Hear it from the Animals

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Bruno and Titch
Sheena Dempsey
Walker Books
Titch waits anxiously in Mrs Pinkerley’s pet shop for a “Big Person” to come along and buy him; it’s been so long – almost a year in guinea pig time already. Now imagine his joy when in comes one small boy and out go one guinea pig and one small boy together. Life at Bruno’s home takes some getting used to however –their tastes are so very different.

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And all those games are positively hair-raising for a small furry rodent but then there are other things that compensate.
Just when the friendship seems to be flourishing though, Bruno starts behaving very strangely; surely it can’t be a getting rid of pet plan he’s hatching worries our small narrator. As a pair of hands reach out, panic seizes Titch but …

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WOW! Bruno’s creation is truly amazing, only serving to prove what a good friend he is; and definitely worth that wait.
So too was the wait for Sheena Dempsey’s latest offering. Her ink and watercolour illustrations are full of fun and feeling and could well prompt young listeners to set to work to create their own pet paradises.
Also with an animal narrator is:

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I’m My Own Dog
David Ezra Stein
Walker Books
I’m my own dog. Nobody owns me. I own myself’’ asserts the self-assured canine storyteller at the outset and goes on to demonstrate just how he answers to nobody and is totally happy with his lot. Life is just dandy until along comes a particularly annoying itch in an unreachable (for our narrator that is) place on his back. So bad does it become that for all his talk, the bulldog is forced to allow a human hand to come to his aid.

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Then one thing … leads to another … until despite the disadvantage of having to do the cleaning up, a firm friendship is forged.

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Amusing,watercolour and pen and ink pictures created with a mix of thick and thin strokes almost calligraphic style, cleverly add both definition and personality to the two main characters in particular.
Great fun even if, like me, you are not a dog-lover.

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Mad About Mega Beasts!
Giles Andreae and David Wojtowycz
Orchard Books
A dozen very large creatures introduce themselves in this latest offering from the duo who brought us Rumble in the Jungle, Commotion in the Ocean and Mad About Minibeasts. There are creatures of land and sea, hot places and cold, carnivores and vegetarians; a few are extinct, most very much alive. They might be feathered, furred, scaly or smooth, scary or more friendly, but the one thing they have in common is their sheer size. Thus we meet, among others, Argentinosaurus (currently claimed to be the largest dinosaur), the Siberian Tiger, Python and even a St. Bernard all rendered in glorious technicolour in Wojtowycz’s gleeful illustrations;

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he manages to make even that python look anything but scary. Superb use of the space on the page every time, and with its mix of colourful characters and jaunty rhymes I’m sure this will become as popular as its predecessors in primary classrooms everywhere. Individual readers will delight in spotting those other – tiny – creatures that seem to have managed to find their way into every scene.

Find and buy from your local bookshop:

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Baby Booms, Blues and Bumps

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Boom, Baby, Boom Boom!
Margaret Mahy and Margaret Chamberlain
Frances Lincoln
As with any text penned by Margaret Mahy (what a sad loss she is), this one sparkles throughout with wit and joie de vie. We meet a smiling, musical Mama and her small offspring who is, in the first spread, being placed in her high chair in preparation for the delicious meal she is about to consume. That is the plan anyhow; what happens is altogether different. Unknown to Mama, who is ready for a spot of relaxing drumming, she is watched by a whole host of farmyard animals listening intently at the open window.

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As she drums the baby tosses each item of her wholesome spread onto the floor starting with the cheese. In dashes the yellow cat and hastily consumes it. So begins a concatenation of food hurling and animal consuming as the brown dog, red rooster and hens, black-faced sheep

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and brown- and-white cow all dash in and gratefully gobble in turn, the bread and honey, apple slices, lettuce leaves and carrots and then exit again. Back comes an envigorated mama, spies the empty plate, congratulates the baby on eating her lunch and after hugs and kisses, feeds her a banana. And guess what, that
baby ate it all up.
                                                 Boom-biddy-boom-biddy
                                                          YUM-YUM-YUM!
The story is an absolute joy to read aloud and Margaret Chamberlain splendidly captures the upbeat tenor of the telling in her hilarious illustrations and at the same time, adds her own humorous touches, further adding to the book’s sparkling delights.
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Baby’s Got the Blues
Carol Diggory Shields and Lauren Tobia
Walker Books
How does it feel to be a baby? Have you ever wondered from your adult standpoint? Well, here we have it, told from the viewpoint of the baby narrator of this book.
They certainly don’t have it easy – well definitely not this one, indeed it’s enough to give you the blues, the baby blues no less. Soggy nappies in sleep suits, stinky dampness,

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unsatisfying yucky, gum friendly food, falling over flat and behind those jail-like bars blues.

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But, then come the compensatory cuddles and kisses and I love yous; just what’s needed to chase away those
B-A-B-Y’  blues  – oh yeah!
Actually though, life is not quite as bad as all that. In this up-to the minute family, Baby’s Mum is a pony-tailed wearer of jogging bottoms with loving, scoop you up arms ready at just the right moment and there is an older, red-haired sibling who sports a princess crown and knows just how to make sure she is always part of the action.
With its swinging, catchy and chantable text and delicious scenes that capture small domestic details to perfection, (big sister and baby wearing matching bibs for instance,) this is likely to become a firm favourite wherever there is a bouncing babe. Lauren Tobia seems set to follow in Helen Oxenbury’s footsteps.
In a word, gorgeous.
Buy from Amazon

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Emily Peppermint’s Toy School
Jeanne Willis and Vanessa Cabban
Walker Books
It’s the first day of term at Emily Peppermint’s educational establishment but what is on the curriculum for the new pupils? Unlike other schools, the main subject, Emily informs toys Gumbo, Little Ted, Edie, Shmoo and Tinny Tim. is ‘children’ and where best to start? With babies, of course. ‘ “Babies aren’t made like toys,” explained Emily. “They’re born and grow into children.” ‘Grow?” gasped Edie. “If I grew, my knickers wouldn’t fit!” “You forgot to put them on,” said Gumbo.’

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So, that’s development dealt with in brief.
Now onto practical lessons: We larger humans all know what babies in prams do with their toys. So, the next important thing to learn is how to fall out of a pram safely when ejected baby- style; hard hats are needed for this one.

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All teachers know the value of using the outdoors as a learning environment so the class moves alfresco, to the top of a hill no less. First to jump, or rather fling himself, is Tinny Tin. His jump triggers a frantic downhill chase with the toys ending up SPLAT! in a muddy heap.
There’s only one thing for it – the next lesson … swimming.

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Much of Jean Willis’s text is in the form of dialogue spoken between the toys themselves or Emily and her pupils; it is full of gentle humour and the idea of presenting babies from a toys’ perspective is inspired. Vanessa Cabban beautifully captures that humour in her diverting scenes of classroom capers and comical misadventures.
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This is me, EATING!
Neal Layton
Walker Books
This is a deliciously upbeat addition to the ‘first experiences’ series of board books. Herein we meet Mum, Dad, Dog, Granny, Worm and the small, totally endearing infant narrator, as they eat ‘a crunchy apple’, ‘a sticky sandwich’, ‘a big bone’, ‘smelly cheese’, ‘mucky mud’ and

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‘lots of things’ respectively. Just half a dozen spreads but so much to relish both visually and verbally; altogether a tasty treat for the very youngest. In addition, with its patterned text and illustrations that are closely matched with the large print sentences, young beginning readers might well whet their palates on this one.
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I Love You, Baby
Giles Andreae and Emma Dodd
Orchard Books
A happy-sounding, shock-haired toddler introduces the brand new baby:
One fat tummy, tight like a drum. Two little cheeks on one little bum!

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We share a family day together, with Mum who drives the car, Dad who baths the babe (along with elder sibling).

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Then they sit down to a snack together, take a walk with babe tucked up tight in the pram,

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back home for a squishy, kissy cuddle up, another bathing session for the babe followed by a goodnight cuddle and kiss on those ‘two warm cheeks, all rosy and bright,
Finally it’s time for sleep and the toddler and parents gaze adoringly at the sleeping newcomer to their family. All the while, the focus is on the little babe though the charming narrator, sporting a number 1 T-shirt, seems pretty sure of his place in the pecking order and remains an equal partner in the action throughout. Let’s just hope this bliss remains!
Another winner from the Andreae/Dodd duo: pleasingly readable, bouncy rhyming text that is pitch-perfect for those oh so cute, child characters, so winningly portrayed.
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Treats for Toddlers

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this rabbit, that rabbit
Jane Porter
Walker Books
This lovely board book is the latest addition to the Walker Baby series and is called a ‘shiny touch’ book. The shine is provided by two rabbit characters, male and female, one grey, one orangey coloured. The latter wears a blue bead necklace, also shiny. This engaging pair interact playfully with one another, their antics being documented with appropriate two word rhyming phrases such as fat rabbit/flat rabbit, bendy rabbit/trendy rabbit and a guest makes an appearance on the final spread.

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Great fun for small hands.
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Colour with Splosh!
David Melling
Hodder Children’s Books
Splosh is an endearing duck character created by the author of the popular Hugless Douglas series. He makes his second appearance in this board book as he plays a game of hide-and-seek with his ducky friends. Splosh searches high and low, encountering various colour items, as he waddles though a gate, beneath the trees, along a wall, across the grass, around some leaves, past butterflies, looking among the flowers before spotting five white bottoms protruding from the blue pond. When the owners of these rear ends emerge from the water, we see each one is sporting coloured arm-bands and matching hat – a veritable rainbow of fun.
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Dig Dig Digging
Margaret Mayo and Alex Ayliffe
Orchard Books
In this board book version of the popular original we meet scooping diggers, lorries of all shapes and sizes, gobbling crunching rubbish trucks, tractors ploughing, rumbling tumbling dump trucks and busy bulldozers.
Each one has its own tabbed double spread and is boldly illustrated in a cut paper collage scene with accompanying engaging, rhythmic description – perfect for developing a love of language and sounds in the very youngest children.
Just the thing for young machine lovers.
Buy from Amazon
With the same format is:

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Giraffes Can’t Dance Number-Rumba
Giles Andreae and Guy Parker-Rees
Orchard Books
Meet Gerald giraffe and his jungle friends, the leaping leopards, the high kicking hyenas, the rocking rhinos, the flamenco dancing flamingos, the tangoing lions, (straight from STRICTLY), the smooth, zippy zebras, the groovy baboons and the waltzing, jiving monkeys all practicing their moves for a place in the final dance spread of ten happy animals.
To facilitate page turning for small hands, there is a semi-circular tab for each spread with a face of the animal dancing on that particular page.
Although very young children do not actually learn to count from books, they will assuredly get a great deal of visual enjoyment,

some lovely playful language and opportunities to emulate the dancing animals in this counting board book which also serves as a great introduction to the original and deservedly popular Giraffes Can’t Dance, the progenitor of this rhyming board book.
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Snip & Snap Rain or Shine
Diane and Christyan Fox
Orchard Books
Not quite a board book but with thick sturdy pages, flaps and a final fold-out double-spread, this should certainly stand up to the heavy handling this Snip and Snap title is likely to receive. Here, the two crocodile friends have planned a sunny picnic but the changeable weather seems to be doing everything it can to hold up the proceedings as poor Snip is forced to go back and change his outfit five times before the friends finally get outside into the sunshine.
With rhyming text, door-shaped flaps that serve to move the story forward

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and funny, bold bright illustrations this is a book preschoolers choose for themselves and enjoy reading over and over with an adult.
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Christmas is Coming part 2

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I Love You Father Christmas
Giles Andreae and Emma Dodd
Orchard Books
A small child’s delight in the festive season is lovingly portrayed through Giles Andreae’s bouncy rhyme, which is actually a letter to Father Christmas, and Emma Dodd’s characteristically bright, bold pictures.

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The latter have enormous child appeal and her jolly scenes of a totally endearing character should reassure any young child who is slightly nervous about Santa.
One to give to the youngest children.
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Are You Ready For Christmas?
Helen Lang
Templar Publishing
It’s Christmas Eve and Reindeer meets and greets friends Mouse, Squirrel and Dove. Each tells him of their special last minute preparations but then Reindeer seems to have forgotten what his special role is. The final fold-out reveals all.

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This is actually in board book format but I think this rhyming story could be enjoyed by children beyond that stage too. With its bold, coloured lines, patterns and touches of sparkle, Helen Lang’s artwork is quirky and charming. The scenes set against the dark night sky are particularly striking.
Buy from Amazon

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Lollipop and Grandpa and the Christmas Baby
Penelope Harper and Cate James
Phoenix Yard Books pbk
When Lollipop receives the news that there’s to be a new addition to her family and that it will arrive just in time for Christmas, she is far from enthusiastic. Crying, stinky and attention grabbing is what she thinks of babies. “Christmas is ruined!” she feels as the infant’s arrival time draws ever closer. Fortunately for Lollipop, Grandpa is on hand to involve her in all the festive preparations and when on Christmas Eve, Dad and Mum have to leave her to go to the hospital, he helps her hang up the stockings. But on Christmas morning, although Santa has left presents, her Mum and Dad still haven’t come back. It’s over to Grandpa once again – to do the Christmas dinner this time. And even if it’s not quite the conventional festive meal her parents might have expected, it does have that Wow factor. So too does the tiny Christmas Baby that Dad is holding all wrapped up and definitely NOT crying.
This, the fifth of the series, is as enjoyable as the others and Lollipop should win some new friends with this seasonal goodie.
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Belle and Boo and the Merry Christmas
Mandy Sutcliffe
Orchard Books
The fourth in this series about a little girl and her rabbit friend (toy or real?) sees the inseparable pair getting ready for Christmas. First they decorate the tree and Belle has to explain to Boo what Christmas entails and then together they put up paper-chains, make cards and Christmas cookies, hang up their stocking and finally snuggle up for the night. Then, next morning after opening their respective presents, Boo decides they should share the joys of Christmas with their animal friends outside in the garden.
A gentle, slightly whimsical story with an old-fashioned charm, illustrated in appropriately soft colours. with just a touch of festive sparkle on the cover.
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Father Christmas Comes Up Trumps!
Nicholas Allan
Red Fox pbk
A few years back, Father Christmas was in need of a wee; now he needs something much more explosive. It’s the result of his over indulgence in – wait for it – Brussels sprouts – on his final supper before departing on his Christmas Eve delivery round. With his wind-filled tum, it’s a good thing that Santa is accompanied by his helpful elf who is on hand to push him down chimneys and utter ‘Sssshhh!“ warnings when those bubbling, rumbling, gurgling sounds start to emanate from his explosive belly. Santa does his level best to keep his wind in but his utterance of “Ooooo! my tum – it’s going to start. This time I’m really going to f . . . !” signals that the effort has become just too much. Out comes a ‘cheep’ and its time to run from the stirring child. But, horror of horrors! His reindeers are totally zonked in the sleigh. Perhaps it’s as well then that the elf’s final exhortation goes unheeded: time to make use of that WIND power to launch the sleigh skywards and homewards. PWHOOOAH!
As before, this slightly risqué humour will have young children wriggling on their bottoms in delight especially, in anticipation of the final grand
F F A A A R R T T !
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A Letter for Bear
David Lucas
Flying Eye Books
Bear is a postman, painstakingly ensuring he delivers every letter in his sack to the correct address each day and then trudging back to his cave to drink soup and wonder what it would be like to get a letter himself. The trouble is Bear never sends any letters. One windy day when out on his round, the wind takes the mailbag scattering the contents all over the snow. Bear collects all the letters but the addresses are smudged so he conscientiously knocks on each door to ensure correct delivery. The recipients are thankful but Bear feels even lonelier as he returns to his cave. Time for a change, he thinks as he gazes out at the snowy night. He sets to work writing Christmas party invitations and next morning he delivers a whole snowstorm of letters to his new acquaintances.

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That evening having waited for ages and ages, Bear is about to give up when he hears voices outside. It’s party time after all and even better, the following morning guess who gets a whole sackful of letters of his very own.
The real strength of this book is Lucas’ intricately patterned illustrations. Almost every double spread has a geometric border of patterned triangles, rectangles, diamonds or scallops and set into some of the scenes, we view Bear’s lonely world through circular peephole vignettes. His use of limited colours – shades of blue, orange, purple, russet, pink and orange and his use of geometric shapes for, or to pattern, trees, buildings, flowers and more, add to the impact. Then there are angled viewpoints, interrupted borders and beautiful snowscapes . This book is a small masterpiece of design.
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The Smallest Gift of Christmas
Peter H. Reynolds
Walker Books
Having eagerly anticipated the great day, Roland is less than impressed when he dashes downstairs on Christmas morning to discover a very small parcel awaiting him. So, he wishes for a larger one again and again and … Still not satisfied he storms off and eventually launches himself in a rocket to search the whole universe. It’s not until he glimpses Earth as a tiny dot growing ever smaller through his telescope, that Roland begins to realize that bigger isn’t always better, unless of course, it’s your home and you are heading back towards it.
A simple message amusingly rendered through Reynolds’ comic scenes. This author/artist has the unfailing knack of getting right to the nub of things every time and, he clearly demonstrates with all his books, that small things can often be among the very best.
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Alfie’s Christmas
Shirley Hughes
Bodley Head
Making cards and decorations, counting down the days with an advent calendar featuring a nativity scene, Christmas cooking, buying and decorating a Christmas tree, choosing and wrapping presents, writing to Santa, carol singing, hanging up Christmas stockings and a family Christmas dinner with visiting relatives:

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these are just some of the ingredients of four-year old Alfie’s Christmas so lovingly told and illustrated in Shirley Hughes incomparable style.
This is a traditional family Christmas full of warmth, friendship, love, bustle and excitement, and some secrets too. It’s Christmas as we would wish it to be for everyone, before Christmas started in October and consumerism took over.
A book to buy and cherish year after year.
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Don’t forget:
Snow Bunny’s Christmas Wish
Rebecca Harry Nosy Crow pbk
Lonely Snow Bunny’s Christmas wish is for a friend so she writes to Santa with her request.
For full review of this lovely story, now in paperback, see Seasonal Selection: Christmas Books 2012

Also reviewed there and now in paperback is :
When It Snows
Richard Collingridge
David Fickling Books pbk
A small boy’s favourite book transports him on a magical snowy Christmas adventure .