Father Christmas Comes Up Trumps!
Nicholas Allan

Red Fox

ISBN 9781782951667

You may already be familiar with Nicholas Allan's earlier Christmas title, Father Christmas Needs a Wee, and his new book is just as enjoyable to share with young children. Father Christmas Comes up Trumps is a lively and fun story to get children into the Christmas spirit and with its rhyming text, rooftop spreads and the delight of a 'naughty word', it makes a great read-aloud. Father Christmas has filled up his tummy ready for all his hard work on Christmas Eve - but one too many helpings of sprouts has left his tummy feeling rather funny.... Poor Father Christmas isn't allowed to make a sound as he visits the children's houses, delivering presents - but his tummy isn't getting any better. How will he manage this Christmas Eve ordeal...? Children will love joining in with the final spread as Father Christmas, finally, gets to 'faaaaart'. While this isn't, like its predecessor, a counting book, the focus is on positional language. Father Christmas is racing around - up ladders, over walls, down the chimney or up into the sky. There's a lovely repeated refrain, 'Up in the sky and over the moon, under the clouds and down to the roofs', that could be used to help inspire children's own displays of Santa in his sleigh, flying high over the rooftops. The story could even be acted out by the class as Christmas draws near - there will be much giggling over all all the different words they can find for 'bottom blow'. Picture book format / Ages 3+ / Reviewed by ReadingZone

Father Christmas Comes Up Trumps!
When It Snows
Richard Collingridge

David Fickling Books

ISBN 9781849921404

Taking a very different look at the wintery festivities is When it Snows by Richard Collingridge whose snowy, magical landscapes make this a real treat to share with Foundation-stage children and beyond. And while it is a story about Father Christmas and Christmas Eve, it also opens our eyes to the power of imagination and stories. 'When it snows....', begins the story, and we follow the figure of a small boy - tiny in the great, snowy landscapes - as he joins all the other children and animals who are going 'to the place where the snowmen live'. There, the boy is greeted by the Queen of the Poles and taken to meet Father Christmas with his 'thousands of elves' and a giant reindeer. The final spread sees the boy at home, with the book on his lap, open at the page where he is on the giant sleigh with Father Christmas - somewhere he can go every day by reading his favourite book. The pared-down text allows the reader to get totally drawn into the images and the magical scenes that unfold on each spread are delicious: the children racing through the snow; a vast army of elves; the boy's delight at seeing fairies; and the solemnity of Father Christmas and his reindeer. This has all the makings of a real Christmas classic - one to enjoy year after year. Picture book / Ages 3+ / Reviewed by ReadingZone

When It Snows
The Nativity
May Eliot

Picture Corgi

ISBN 9780552567626

We wanted to include a more traditional Nativity picture book and this one, by May Eliot and Richard Johnson, is a perfect way to share the Christmas story of Joseph and Mary making their way to Bethlehem for the birth of their baby, Jesus. The story is told simply and clearly, highlighting the main points of the nativity, including the Angel Gabriel's appearance to Mary, the journey to Bethlehem and the visiting kings and shepherds who come to see the new baby. The illustrations add to the power of this story by depicting the ordinary people and animals, landscape and houses, alongside the stars twinkling and swirling in the sky and the more stylised angelic appearances. It shows Mary and Joseph as they were - a couple living an ordinary life until these extraordinary events unfolded. Picture book / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by ReadingZone

The Nativity
Yeti and the Bird
Nadia Shireen

Jonathan Cape Ltd

ISBN 9781780080147

What a delightful, warm and quirky story - just what we've come to expect from the creator of Good Little Wolf. Yeti is the fiercest-looking thing anyone has ever seen, so all the other creatures leave him alone. Until, that is, the arrival of a solitary bird who giggles at Yeti's growl and adopts him as a companion to share the story of her travels with. When they both realise that she is lost (and not in the tropical land she was expecting), Yeti befriends her and together they play, sing and laugh together. And although Yeti is sad when she has to fly on, he soon finds that he has many more friends in the making. This is a wonderful story about seeing beyond our differences that could get children discussing what is important in friendship, as well as how being excluded from groups can make them feel. They will also enjoy pouring over the details in the drawings, from the plentiful humour in the bird's antics to the creatures spying out at them from the safety of the trees. You could also touch on bird's migratory habits - and even follow a map, as Yeti does, to see how far certain species fly during their migration. Picture book / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by ReadingZone

Yeti and the Bird
The Slightly Annoying Elephant
David Walliams


ISBN 9780007493999

David Walliams has been repeatedly compared to Roald Dahl, in my opinion deservedly so, and this story, his first picturebook, about a small boy and a 'great, big, gigantic, ginormous elephant' lives up to the accolade. With this book, not only is his exuberance and humour comparable to Dahl but the plot resembles another children's classic - Judith Kerr's The Tiger who Came to Tea. Sam, on hearing a knock at his front door, opens it expecting to see his mum or the postman but instead finds a big blue elephant, wearing a pink beret. He discovers that when he signed an adoption paper at the zoo the small print wasn't quite what he imagined it to be. The elephant explains how he travelled by plane from Africa, having to buy two seats, to see him and now expects to enjoy Sam's hospitality. The resulting bath, meal, and bike ride have expectantly laughable and chaotic results that are heightened by Tony Ross's bold, anarchic cartoon illustrations. As the elephant sleeps, Sam makes his way through a ransacked house to answer another knock on his door, but once again, it is definitely not what he was expecting. This very enjoyable book has a lot of talking points, enchanting characters, and fantastic illustrations and is a good read for individuals or groups. Picture book / Ages 3+ / Reviewed by Natalie J. McChrystal Plimmer

The Slightly Annoying Elephant
Eric Carle

ISBN 9780723281504

As expected of the creator of The Very Hungry Caterpillar, the artwork in this new picturebook is stunning, rich in texture and colour, and very graphic. Using the same techniques of tissue paper collages that have become Carle's trademark style the artwork dominates this book, whilst the actual story is subtle. With themes of friendship, endurance, travel, the environment, and loss: this story was inspired by a photograph of Carle taken when he was three with a friend who he never saw again as his family moved abroad three years later. The boy in the story travels across mountains, stretches of water, meadows, forests, and flower gardens in search of his friend, until finally they meet again and get married. The artwork for each landscape (apart from a small white box for the text at the bottom of the pages) fills each double spread and the vivid colours and illusions of depth and texture make the reader feel as if they are being immersed by the forest or the river and the plot is touching and charming. I could imagine this title being a very nice calming reassuring bedtime story, which with its story of journey and happy ending and absorbing illustrations is one to be enjoyed time and time again. Picture book / Ages 2+ / Reviewed by Natalie J. McChrystal Plimmer

Aunt Amelia
Rebecca Cobb

Macmillan Children's Books

ISBN 9780230764811

Rebecca Cobb is rapidly becoming one of the most outstanding young illustrators around. She illustrates beautifully for a whole range of authors but I have a particular fondness for her own books. There seems to be in these a mischievous child's eye view of the world which is wholly successful and endearing even if slightly surreal. So in the Greenaway shortlisted Lunchtime we had an array of wild animals in the house helping a toddler eat her meals and here we have the dreaded Aunt Amelia coming to look after two grumpy small people while Mummy and Daddy are away and she turns out to be a crocodile with rather a nice line in hats! Not that this is ever commented upon in the text. The children take the fact that she is a crocodile completely in their stride. They are mainly concerned about the long and boring list of instructions left by their parents which are all about keeping clean and tidy and safe of course. Luckily for them, Aunt Amelia does not interpret the list in the way that Mummy and Daddy might expect. So the book is a real treat for visual literacy fans since it is the lovely pencil drawn and watercolour pictures which show us what the children and Aunt Amelia get up to while the text gives us the instructions. Children will really enjoy commenting on the naughtiness displayed and like the children in the book will be demanding that Aunt Amelia visit again soon with another great list of helpful instructions. Picture book format / Reviewed by Joy Court, Librarian.

Aunt Amelia

ISBN 9780230769885

Julia Donaldson's inimitable text is once again paired with Lydia Monks to deliver a sparkling, action-packed story featuring a rocking horse, a unicorn, and a sprinkling of magic. 'Sugarlump was a rocking horse. He belonged to a girl and boy. To and fro, to and fro, They road on their favourite toy.' Happy as he is, Sugarlump soon gets the urge to travel and a magical unicorn gives him his wish each time he wants to try something new. But each time he changes, he feels there is still something not quite right and after trying out the life of a cart horse, a racing horse and a circus horse, Sugarlump finds himself back where he started only alone and in the attic - but the unicorn has a final, perfect transformation for him. Donaldson's books are known for their repeated refrains and this story and this time it is in the unicorn's delivery of each magic wish. The story is a great starting point to discuss role play and opens the door to children taking a character - perhaps an ordinary boy or girl like them, or an animal or toy - and putting them into lots of different roles. The magic phrase could also help inspire their own magical 'transformation' chant. Picture book format / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by ReadingZone.

Angie Morgan

Frances Lincoln Childrens Books

ISBN 9781847804488

Our eponymous(e) hero is much, much larger than all the other mice in the Mouse House but he is very handy to have around for carrying particularly large lumps of cheese and for reaching high cupboards. But when his best friend Tinymouse finds a book with pictures of large furry animals called rats, then Enormouse becomes a figure of fun for all the other mice and sadly he leaves to find his true identity. When he finds some fellow rats, they are very friendly, but the rat house is a terrible mess and they just laugh at him too when he wants to clean up. So even though he may look like a rat, he is not like them at all. Meanwhile the mice are very sorry for the way they have treated their friend and set off through the perilous night to find him and bring him home. This is a very rewarding story about accepting each other's differences as well as providing discussion about size and animal families. The attractive mixed media illustrations are quirky and humorous and, from the mouse family portraits on the endpapers to the disgusting squalor of the rats' house, there is much delightful detail to pore over and enjoy. Picture book format / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by Joy Court, Librarian