20 Crackers to add to your Christmas shopping list
A selection of beautifully illustrated children’s books that make lasting gifts
It's wonderful to see how enthusiastic my local paper, the Westmeath Examiner, is about literature for little readers. They've published a double-spread featuring festive gift inspiration from Picture Book Snob again this year! If you're not living in the middle of Ireland, you can find the full article below, with links to longer reviews on the blog where available...
A Field Guide to Leaflings by Owen Churcher & Niamh Sharkey, Templar (age 4 – 7) Both educational and entertaining, this combines real facts about trees with tiny fictional caretakers. The intricate illustrations by Irish artist and author Niamh Sharkey include flaps to lift on every page.
Everyone Sang: A Poem for Every Feeling, edited by William Sieghart & illustrated by Emily Sutton, Walker Books (all ages) Over a hundred poems by a variety of contemporary and classic poets from all over the world, divided into sections that represent different moods.
Frindleswylde by Natalia O'Hara & Lauren O'Hara, Walker Books (age 5 – 9) A modern fairy tale that feels like a classic. Atmospheric and intriguing with exquisite illustrations, this explores the legend of The Snow Queen in an entirely original way.
Huwie the Apple Tree by Dolores Keaveney, DBee Press (age 0 - 5) From Mullingar’s answer to Beatrix Potter comes another lively rhyming tale with striking handpainted watercolours throughout. A gorgeous tribute to nature which celebrates how hope can blossom in the unlikeliest of places. Read a longer review...
Margaret's Unicorn by Briony May Smith, Walker Books (age 4 – 7) Another new book with a classic quality, this spectacular story is all about a little girl who finds a lost baby unicorn on a remote Scottish island. Read a longer review...
My Little Album of Ireland by Juliette Saumande & Tarsila Krüse, O’Brien Press (all ages) This gorgeous illustrated Irish-English wordbook takes readers on a tour of Ireland that includes mythology and sporting events as well as popular attractions. With a squirrel to spot in every scene, improving your Gaeilge has never been so much fun!
The Boys by Lauren Ace & Jenny Løvlie, Caterpillar Books (age 3 – 6) A follow-up to bestselling picture book The Girls, this tells the story of four boys whose friendship lasts a lifetime. Moving and memorable, this makes a great gift for girls who loved the first book too.
The Little Prince, adapted by Louise Greig & illustrated by Sarah Massini, Farshore Books (age 3 – 6) A new version of Antoine De Saint-Exupéry’s enduring fable with enchanting illustrations by one of children’s literature’s top talents. Ideal for adults who love the original as well as young readers.
The Little Squirrel Who Worried by Katie O’Donoghue, Gill Books (age 4 – 12) This introduces simple techniques to help children cope with anxiety, using a gentle tale about woodland creatures that’s accompanied by stunning illustrations. Read a longer review + an interview with the author-illustrator...
The Secret Garden retold by Geraldine McCaughrean & illustrated by Margarita Kukhtina, Nosy Crow (age 4 – 8) A deluxe edition of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s timeless tale for younger readers. Both my four-year-old and six-year-old loved this, even though I worried it might be too long or old-fashioned for them.
Time to Move South for Winter by Clare Helen Welsh & Jenny Løvlie, Nosy Crow (age 3 – 6) One of the most beautiful books I’ve ever held in my hands, this tells the story of the extraordinary migratory journeys of different animals. Its lyrical text reads like a lullaby and is perfect for soothing little ones to sleep. Read a longer review + an interview with the author and illustrator...
Wild Child by Dara McAnulty & Barry Falls, Macmillan (age 7 – 12) Explore Ireland’s natural habitats and find fantastic facts about native animals and plants. Divided into sections that include simply looking out a window or venturing into a garden, each one features an activity and magnificent illustrations.
A Dublin Christmas by Nicola Colton, Gill Books (age 3 – 6) Written and illustrated by an Offaly native, this heartwarming tale celebrates the simple things that light up our lives. Read a longer review + an interview with the author-illustrator...
Christmas Street by Jonathan Emmett & Ingela P Arrhenius, Nosy Crow (age 0 – 2)
A brightly coloured, rhyming alphabet book that’s ideal for a baby’s first Christmas. Full of flaps for curious little hands to investigate, this opens out into an attractive wall frieze.
Clarice Bean: Think Like an Elf by Lauren Child, HarperCollins (age 7 – 11) Lauren Child’s disaster-prone protagonist returns for an adventure that’s as hilarious as it is festive.
Daidí na Nollag by Áine Ní Ghlinn & Mr Ando, An tSnáthaid Mhór (age 2 – 4) An Irish-language poem about Santa, and his famous list, that’s full of Christmas magic and written by the Laureate na nÓg.
Evie's Christmas Wishes by Siobhán Parkinson & Shannon Bergin, Little Island (age 3 – 6) This captures all the excitement of the month of December from a child’s perspective and the illustrations have a wonderful, warming glow.
Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam: Santa's Stolen Sleigh by Tracey Corderoy & Steven Lenton, Nosy Crow (age 3 – 6) Everyone’s favourite former outlaws are back with more chaotic canine capers. This time, the mystery-solving doggy-duo rescue Santa’s sleigh from a sinister stranger.
The Christmasaurus by Tom Fletcher & Shane Devries, Puffin (age 3 – 6) A beautiful story about the importance of pursuing dreams and the power of positive thinking, which proves that Christmas will always be magical for those who believe.
Three Little Monkeys at Christmas by Quentin Blake & Emma Chichester Clark, HarperCollins (age 3 – 6) Set in a luxurious Paris apartment where visiting pet primates cause havoc during the festive season. This had both of my kids in stitches at the mischievous monkeys, and the mess they made, every time the humans left them alone.