12 Days of Christmas Reading! The End…

Once upon a Christmas time, a new book blogger took on a mammoth task. It was decided to run a blog series based on the 12 days of Christmas, each day featuring several new books for the holiday season. Feeling spoiled for choice, it became a fun and enjoyable time. All good things though, must come to an end!

Today is the 12th day of my Christmas reading blog series. All of my Christmas books are now on display at the top of my stairs near to the bedrooms so my children and I can dip in and out as we want. Really starting to feel the Christmas spirit now.

Countdown to Christmas
Written by Adam and Charlotte Guillain, Illustrated by Pippa Curnick
Published by Egmont

Bear has announced a special Christmas countdown to his woodland friends and they are all very excited. Each day one new friend gets to go and find a prize. Everyone, except Mouse, seems to be getting their turn. Poor Mouse ends up ill in bed and worries about missing her turn and feels forgotten. Christmas Eve arrives with a surprise for Mouse. Bear hasn’t forgotten her and her present brings everyone together. With colourful, bright and fun illustrations, this book is perfect for counting down to Christmas. Told in rhyme, it rolls off the tongue and is a perfect class book. A special surprise awaits the reader of this book.

Christmas is Coming, An Advent Book
Illustrated by Kate Hickey
Published by Chronicle Books

This book has it all….jokes, stories, songs, recipes and decorations to make. Each day brings a new surprise to the reader, something different and a lovely way to count the days in December. Kate Hickey has Illustrated this book in a style that has a vintage, timeless feel. The cover is gorgeous and has a special treat for little hands, lifting the advent flaps to see the sweet pictures underneath. I fully plan to use this book with my family and I can see if being eagerly brought out every Advent season.

How Winston Delivered Christmas
Written and Illustrated by Alex T Smith
Published by Macmillan

When this published last Christmas, it was lauded and declared the book to have on your Christmas list. It has been published in paperback this Christmas and remains “the” book to own! We bought it and read it together night after night. The bonus is that each day also has an activity to accompany the chapter, ranging from writing your letter to Santa to making pomanders and doing random acts of kindness. Alex T Smith is a top author and illustrator, truly putting personality into his books and characters. We are massive Claude and Mr Penguin fans here so when my children saw his name on the cover, they knew it was going to be awesome! Now we just have to wait until Sunday to begin again.

Thank you to all the publishers who have sent copies of their Christmas books for this series. It has been a privilege to read and review these wonderful books.

It may still be November but…Merry Christmas to All!

12 Days of Christmas Reading! Penultimate

Just two days left in this blog series. Thank you so much for all your positive comments and thoughts. It has been an intense two weeks of blogging and I have learned quite a lot! There are just a few books left in this series and they are all wonderful! Keep an eye out for the last in the series tomorrow!

The Twelve Unicorns of Christmas
Written by Timothy Knapman, Illustrated by Ada Grey
Published by Egmont

I had the pleasure of reading this before my daughter came home from school. She quickly grabbed it and in true 8yo style, started singing it to the tune of 12 days of Christmas. It worked for a few verses! A bright colourful book perfect for those unicorn loving children in your life. Adorable unicorns feature throughout and the originality is superb. Fun and Christmassy!

The Night Before The Night Before Christmas
Written by Kes Gray, Illustrated by Claire Powell
Published by Hachette

This is a charming rhyming story looking in Santa’s workshop as he and the elves prepare for Christmas. Everything’s going well, the elves are busy, the reindeer are awake and the sleigh is shining, so why does Santa feel as though he is forgetting something. Is it his dinner, has he crossed off his to do list? We have to wait until the last page to see what it is but the wait is worth it. Such a fun and humorous Christmas story. The details in the illustrations are phenomenal and we spent ages looking at them.

The Night Before Christmas and Other Festive Favourites
Illustrated by N. Puttapipat
Published by Walker Books

Featuring some Christmas classics like the famous poem by Clement C Moore, The Nutcracker and Jingle Bells. “Exquisitely Illustrated In Natee Puttapipat’s intricate silhouette style.” I could not have explained it more clearly or beautifully than the book itself. This is s book you must have to explore these incredible illustrations. The use of silhouette and colour is extraordinary. The Night Before Christmas is a highlight of the season for me and it is wonderfully brought to life in this book.

12 Days of Christmas Reading!

Christmas chapter books can be an excellent way to spend time together as a family, especially with these funny books on offer.

The First Christmas Jumper (and the Sheep who changed everything)
Written by Ryan Tubridy, Illustrated by Chris Judge
Published by Walker Books

A Christmas loving, list making, multicoloured sheep named Hillary is the main character in this hilarious story. Join her on her adventure as she helps Santa to get a new Christmas jumper. It is a fun, sweet adventure full of heart and Christmas spirit. Hillary is adorable and I loved the sheep puns and the many lists. I am a list maker too but clearly not as stylish as Hillary! Excellent story accompanied by super illustrations!

The Naughtiest Unicorn at Christmas
Written by Pip Bird, Illustrated by David O’Connell
Published by Egmont

I was so happy to see a Christmas book featuring my favourite unicorn with attitude. Dave, the naughtiest unicorn is back with Mira, causing Christmas havoc. Another superb title in The Naughtiest Unicorn series. Class Red put on a Christmas show every year and Mira is ready to audition. Unfortunately when the roles are cast, neither she or Dave has a part to play. Ms Dazzleflank, the drama teacher, chooses a special role for them. Of course, there is always more than meets the eye with Dave, and he can find himself cast in the role of unlikely hero at times. Life is snow much more fun with Dave around. Fantastic illustrations really capture Dave’s grumpy facial expressions!

The Great Reindeer Disaster
Written by Kate Saunders, Illustrated by Neal Layton
Published by Faber

It’s the end of July and the Trubshaw’s are on holiday when they hear “Ouch…oof..bum…bum…bum coming down the chimney. Completely surprised by the tubby reindeer in their living room, they set about finding out more. Somehow the family end up travelling with Percy by transporter beam, to his home planet of Yule-1. The illustrations are classic Neal Layton, fun and fabulous. My daughter and I are currently reading this one and are just up to the part where the family meet Santa! So far, it’s fun and completely different, which we are loving! Can’t wait to find out more!

Granny Magic Blog Tour

I am so excited to be a part of this blog tour as Granny Magic has been a highlight for me this year. It is full of brilliant characters, magical yarn and a fierce knitting circle! You wouldn’t want to mess with these Grannies.

Thank you to Elka Evalds for the piece below!

I can’t recommend this book highly enough!

Inspiration for GRANNY MAGIC

This story was initially inspired by a long bout of flu. The doctor could do nothing, and I found myself fantasizing about a cardigan that could cure coughs and colds. As it became a story in my mind, I couldn’t help but think of my Latvian grandmother. She was a prolific knitter of sometimes very strange objects, made from oddly coloured acrylic yarns. She was also a fount of unconditional love. She told us much about her extraordinary life as I grew up- she was a wonderful storyteller. But I discovered much more as an adult, and after her death. She had, for instance, gone from Riga to Madrid c. 1932 on the back of a motorbike. I have an idea for a sequel to Granny Magic, in which Will discovers that his Gran’s knitting network extended to Latvia, and the Latvian grans he meets introduce him to new kinds of magic as well as new kinds of villains.

Granny Magic is full of things I love about England:obsessive hobbies, regional cakes, archaic metaphors, and cheese-and-pickle sandwiches. It is set in the Cotswolds, where I’ve been inspired by the sheep, the market towns, and the long history of the woollen industry. Before I came to England in 2015, I was a lecturer in medieval art history, with a sideline in the history of costume and textiles, and now I work at the Corinium Museum, so I’ve found all of this especially interesting. The wool-making tradition in places like Nailsworth, Cirencester and Stroud is part of Granny Magic. 

The Cotswolds isn’t the only setting for Granny Magic,though. I am married to a motorcyclist. In 2017 we took at trip to the Isle of Man during practice week of the TT. I found the craggy cliffs splendid, and loved the sweeping hills, with their multi-coloured brush. At the Cregnesh Open Air Museum, we stumbled upon local Manx sheep, which have brown wool and multiple horns. They’re striking, and sort of prehistoric-looking. When I first tried to picture sheep that might have magical wool, Manx sheep sprang to mind. Then it was like dominoes: if they were Manx sheep, they had to live on the Isle of Man, and if the characters were going to go the Isle of Man, there would have to be motorbikes, and if there were motorbikes, surely there should be a chase…

Finally, I’ve been inspired by characters like Edmund in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, and stories that involve redemption. Edmund is a basically good person who does a couple of despicable things. Aslan’s reaction is stern but compassionate, based upon the certainty that Edmund is better than his actions. This leads to Edmund’s rehabilitation, and his reintegration into the group. I’ve seen this unfold in real life. Expecting the best of someone, and showing compassion, can sometimes bring their best selves to the fore. I may have been especially lucky, but in my experience, Grandmas are particularly good at doing this: doggedly loving what might seem to others to be unloveable.

GRANNY MAGIC by Elk Evalds is out now in paperback (£6.99, Chicken House)

12 Days of Christmas Reading!

Tonight’s books are perfect for all, but especially for very young readers. Two are in board book style and one hardback make them a sturdy addition to your book collections!

We’re Going on an Elf Chase
Written by Martha Mumford, Illustrated by Laura Hughes
Published by Bloomsbury

In the style of We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, this puts us in a Christmas spirit as we hunt for Elves along the way! With stunning winter scenes, lift the flaps and actions to join in with, this is a fun book to read with toddlers and young children. Reinforcing counting to ten, getting ready for bed on Christmas Eve and the joy of surprises on Christmas morning. A complete joy!

Just Right for Christmas
Written by Birdie Black, Illustrated by Rosalind Beardshaw
Published by Nosy Crow

I adore the sentiment in this book with each scrap of cloth finding the perfect home from the tallest to the smallest! From cloaks to jackets to gloves and a scarf, everyone makes a gift for someone they love! Handmade, wrapped with love and placed under a tree for Christmas morning. Repetitive language allows younger readers the chance to participate and predict what is coming next. Beautifully illustrated, this is one to share wide and far!

Marvin and Marigold A Christmas Surprise
Written by Mark Carthew, Illustrated by Simon Prescott
Published by New Frontier

A large box of special decorations and a tree arrive for Marigold. Feeling excited until she sees neighbour Marvin alone in his home. With Christmas spirit abounding, she invites him to help and they spend a happy afternoon and evening together looking at the decorations, sharing cheese and company. It would be perfect to read when your family shares the tradition of decorating the tree together. Reminiscing about old ornaments, handmade specials and ones belonging to grandparents is one of our favourite parts of getting ready. A beautiful story to share.

12 Days of Christmas Reading!

Bears and Princesses are excellent Christmas story characters…especially kind bears and inventor Princesses!

The Christmas Extravaganza Hotel
Written by Tracey Corderoy, Illustrated by Tony Neal
Published by Little Tiger

Bear settles down with a book for the perfect Christmas when a “toot toot” comes from outside. A lost traveller with high expectations for a Christmas Extravaganza arrives and kind Bear tries his very best to make it a Christmas to remember. New friendships, fun and traditions make the duo plan to spend the next Christmas together as well. With superb illustrations from Tony Neal, this book is a complete joy!

The Snowiest Christmas Ever!
Written and Illustrated by Jane Chapman
Published by Little Tiger

Papa Bear and his Cubs are ready for Christmas! All they need now is snow….but when it starts to snow, it doesn’t stop! With so much snow there is nothing to do but have a snow ball fight and build a snowman inside the house. When the chimney gets blocked the family need to work together to make sure Santa can visit. The perfect gift awaits the family when they wake up the next morning. A truly beautiful book with stunning illustrations and a lovely family feel.

The Princess and the Christmas Rescue
Written by Caryl Hart, Illustrated by Sarah Warburton
Published by Nosy Crow

The entire princess series by Caryl Hart and Sarah Warburton is just brilliant! The princesses are strong and fiesty, twists on the tales we all know and love. Incredibly detailed illustrations accompany rhyming text. In this book, Princess Eliza is an inventor but her parents want her to make friends and be more “Princessy”! Though forbidden to wander the woods, Eliza heads out looking for a new friend. Peeking through a door she sees sad elves who are too busy to chat. Santa is ill but Eliza knows just what to do! Princess Eliza to the rescue! Perfect for building confidence and imagination in young girls, this series is epic! A Super Christmas story!

12 Days of Christmas Reading!

Dogs, Cats and Mice shouldn’t be forgotten at this time of year! These books will fill your heart with Christmas joy and laughter.

Mouse’s Night Before Christmas
Written by Tracey Corderoy, Illustrated by Sarah Massini
Published by Nosy Crow

I am a humongous Tracey Corderoy fan. I love the easy rhyming, the imaginative stories and provide the perfect opportunities to share and read aloud. Since seeing her a few times, I can hear her lyrical Welsh voice reading and it is magical. Mouse, though he shouldn’t be stirring, is wide awake and making Christmas wishes. Interspersed with elements of the traditional poem from Clement C Moore, is the story of Mouse and how he guides Santa through the town. Handing Mouse a map and a gift, Santa says he hasn’t forgotten Mouse’s wish. With tears welling up, I turned the page and my heart was lifted. What a beautiful tale of friendship and hope.

A Cat’s Christmas Carol
Written by Sam Hay, Illustrated by Helen Shoesmith
Published by Simon and Schuster

Clawdia, the security guard’s cat, is stuck in the department store over Christmas. The rules are simple…no mice! However, it’s cold outside and a group of them are sneaking around, and Clawdia is giving chase all over the store. Faced with memories and wishes of her own, she realises that spending Christmas with the mice might not be so bad after all. Believing she is about to be kicked outside, she hides but it turns out the security guard has other plans. Another heart warming, magical Christmas story, with a wonderful message of “Christmas with friends was the best gift of all”. Charming and incredibly detailed illustrations allow the reader to feel part of the story.

The Twelve Dogs of Christmas
Written by Alison Ritchie, Illustrated by Marisa Morea
Published by Simon and Schuster

A simple counting book is given an exciting boost by counting dogs celebrating Christmas. With bright and bold illustrations, the featured dogs are large and small, boisterous and excited. A little pup is watching all the excitement, from dachshunds delivering letters to Scotties sniffling treats and labradors eating a Christmas wreath. It’s all fun and games but Pup is tired out. Time for a sleep and surprise for Christmas morning. This makes a fun read with children as they love the dog breeds, the simple counting and watching the trouble caused.