The next time you’re browsing the children’s department at your local Eason, you may find yourself looking twice at the newest addition to the shelf. It looks so out of place that even some of our own staff members have been caught trying to move it to adult fiction. The book in question is Between the Lines by Jodi Picoult and her daughter, 16 year old Samantha Van Leer.
For those not familiar with the international bestselling author, Picoult’s novels deal with a myriad of moral dilemmas and ultimately pose one question to the reader – ‘what would you do?’ It sounds innocent enough but when the ‘moral dilemmas’ in question surround issues such as murder, child abuse, school shootings, suicide and harvesting organs – the subject matter of her biggest hit, My Sister’s Keeper – perhaps Picoult is not the ideal candidate for your child’s new favourite author.
However, this novel marks a new departure for the 46 year old, as she is joined by her daughter for her first foray into the children’s’ book market. Between the Lines is an innocuous tale of a 15 year old called Delilah who finds solace in her favourite childhood fairy tale while her peers have moved on to boys and make-up. We see Delilah taking the definition of ‘getting lost in a book’ a step too far as she strikes up a friendship with Prince Oliver, the fairy tale’s main character. She then has to choose whether to help Oliver escape from his bookish prison or to join him herself in what she sees as the land of ‘happily ever after’. Here we see Picoult’s trademark ‘what would you do?’ approach come into play. Well, you didn’t think it was going to be entirely different, did you!?
The Prophet is a story about two brothers, Kent and Adam Austin both of whom were American football stars in Chambers, a small Ohio town. Kent, now the coach of the football team and his brother Adam, a bail bondsman, haven’t spoken in years. When they were teenagers, their sister was abducted and murdered, and their devastated family never recovered.
Kent is a winning football coach and a man of faith, who talks of God and his family to murderers in his prison ministry. Adam drinks too much, aches for revenge and works so close to the town’s criminal fringes that he sometimes seems a part of them.
Adam and Kent are suddenly shocked out of their routines when the girlfriend of Kent’s star player is abducted and brutally murdered the night the Chambers football team wins a place in the state finals. The two brothers must confront their rage and grief and unite to bring safety and justice to their loved ones and their small town.
The book club met on the 7th of March with 15 members present, all female.
All present were agreed that the novel was a very easy read, but were divided in their reactions to it. Half of the group felt there was far too much football in the novel and that men would enjoy it more. Between the brotherly relationship at the centre of the novel and the detailed play by play descriptions of the football games they found it to be quite masculine.
The other half enjoyed the story and, while maybe skimming through some of the game play descriptions, could see the game’s importance in a small town with little else left. They thought the story moved along well and it worked well regarding the brothers’ relationship and the horrors of dealing with grief over violent deaths.
The novel’s genre is deemed a thriller, but we were all agreed that there is very little sense of thrill in the story and it is not sinister enough. The villain should have been developed a bit more and maybe introduced earlier in the story. We felt it was more of a mystery/crime novel rather than a thriller.
We all enjoyed his thoughts of small town mentality and how when tragedy strikes, people that didn’t know or care much about the victim, become upset and feel directly involved. Everyone recalls that “special” time spent with the people affected. Koryta has a lovely line at the beginning of the novel, where he describes the small community as close knit or invasive, depending on which side you are on.
The writing was enjoyable and some of his descriptions are more successful than others. His initial description of the villain as well as the deserted summer cottage that was the scene of the crime was chilling. The author also knows how to spin a story. Just when you think the killer has been brought to justice and the novel wraps up happily, be prepared to be surprised.
Christine felt that the author did a better job writing about the football than about the crime part of the novel. As well as that, the promise of the sinister prologue was never realised and she believes she would have enjoyed the novel more had she been male.
Arcadia watched footage from the Friday Night Lights show mentioned in the book, and found it very helpful in better understanding the football game as well as its importance in small town America. Having read many thrillers before, she enjoyed the fact that the story was focused on people and their relationships, rather than autopsies, police investigations and so on.
Marie was sorry, not being American, that the first Michael Koryta book she has read has so much to do with football. Saying that she would be interested in reading another one of his books and she would recommend The Prophet as a good holiday read.
His style of writing is compelling and there are bigger and better things to come from this author. Lovers of American football will appreciate the attention to detail given to every game, however as a group, we felt the novel was more suitable for a male audience and we would pass it on to our husbands.
Next, Book Clubber Karen gives her personal review Continue reading
Rachel Joyce’s The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry was chosen as an Eason Book Club recommended read for January. Joyce’s enchanting tale of a man on an unusual mission has got book clubs around the world talking, often dividing them in two. It’s certainly a Marmite kind of a book! We asked one of our many in-house book lovers, Ruth, to tell us what it’s all about…
A letter arrives into the clinical and organised home, which the recently retired Harold Fry shares with his wife Maureen, bearing news that will change everything in their world. Queenie, an old colleague, writes to say goodbye and advises that she is dying of cancer. Harold pens a stilted, polite and unemotional response and heads out of his front door to post it. He bids Maureen “cheerio” and sets off to the post box.
His mind wanders as he walks and Harold thinks of ‘all the things in life he’d let go’ and how he has ‘lived out his ordinary life’. He thinks of Queenie, marvelling that she remembered him after such a long time.
A chance encounter with a girl in a garage leads her to share that her aunt has cancer and how important it is to stay positive; how this belief gave her aunt hope when everything else had gone.
Without any conscious deliberation or reasoning, Harold makes the decision to walk to Queenie, from Kingsbridge to Berwick.
Harold quite simply believes that as long as he walks, Queenie will live. It is at that point, with no great fanfare or ceremony, his personal odyssey begins.
Harold’s walk gives him the time and distance to reflect on his broken relationships with both his wife and son, of mistakes made and opportunities missed. He mourns the lack of communication between himself and Maureen. He remembers, with sorrow, refusing to hold his son when he was a baby, not because he didn’t want to, but purely because he was too afraid.
Harold’s emotions are laid bare to the reader and he makes no attempt at apologising, or rationalising the current state of affairs. He touches on memories of his past with his parents and draws parallels and identifies points that differ in his own relationship with both his wife and son.
The novel journeys with Harold as he reaches each town and interacts with people that he meets. The various characters are cleverly portrayed: the people who help him and the people who join him on his pilgrimage.
What really came across throughout the novel is that Harold is an ordinary man with flaws in his character. He is unassuming, quiet and humble. That is what makes him likeable. And that’s what has the reader turning the pages and urging Harold on, every step of the way on his unlikely pilgrimage.
This book is a gentle exposé of human frailties: of the secrets that even the most ordinary people have and the connections that can be strengthened – or broken – by the smallest interaction. It is a book about hope and, quite simply, about the bravery that it sometimes takes to keep putting one foot in front of the other.
Well, love it or hate it? If you think you might love it, the good news is we have 10 copies to give away! To be in with a chance to win, complete the competition form below by February 8th.
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January: For me, this used to be the month when one felt guilty for the overindulgence of the previous one. Too much turkey, TV and chocolate. Too much of everything really. It was a month of ‘New Year, New You’ – getting off the couch and doing things… which was fine… Then a few years ago, suddenly, January ceased to be the dumping ground for whatever children’s books hadn’t made Christmas and were too early for Easter. I blame Eragon myself… It was the first major blockbuster to be released in this sleepy month but it also marked the beginning of a new era, when it became the norm for people to spend the month of January on the couch or in bed reading new titles and new authors. I love it!
This year is no exception, with the release of some astounding titles, including the following six, which have been chosen as our Children’s Books of the Month for January:
Starting off with John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars, this paperback edition will hopefully help Mr. Green to reach the audience he deserves. Without doubt my favourite book of 2012, this bittersweet tale of teenage love in a cancer support group is not as depressing as it sounds, but rather a story of beauty and wonder, spoken in a voice so clear and concise that you can’t but feel the full power and emotion of Hazel’s story. John Green is a force of nature, a talent waiting to be discovered, and I strongly believe that 2013 is the year when the world will take notice. I implore you, read it. (For age 14 and over.)
Wonder by R.J. Palacio is another crossover novel, detailing a young boy’s struggle to live with a rare facial deformity. Again, don’t assume this is a tragic tale of woe, it is not. It is, instead, a stunningly poignant story, filled with hilarious moments & numerous surprises that will have you cheering August Pullman on every step of the way. (For age nine and over.)
The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There by Catherynne M. Valente is the sequel to the fantastic Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making. Think Alice in Wonderland meets The Wizard of Oz and you’ll be half way to understanding what you’re getting in to. A romping-stomping piece of pure fun that is every bit as mad as any hatter I’ve ever met. (For age nine and over.)
Darren Shan’s ZOM-B Underground is the sequel to the first in his new young adult series, ZOM-B. And if you thought the first instalment was controversial – a bit “This is England meets The Walking Dead” – well, wait until you get a load of this book. I’m also delighted to announce that we will be giving away an exclusive set of illustrated Zom-B postcards with every purchase in store, while stocks last. (For age 14 and over.)
James Dashner’s Maze Runner series is a brilliant dystopian trilogy, soon to be made into a Hollywood movie, so it was with great excitement that I received the news that The Kill Order, a prequel to The Maze Runner, was to be released. A world on the brink of collapse, contagious diseases spreading like wildfire, this tale of two teens attempting to survive the chaos and save their friends is an action-packed, nerve-shredding delight. (For age 14 and over.)
Finally, one of this year’s new kids on the literary block, Emmy Laybourne’s Monument 14 is a joy to behold (well, if your version of joy involves disease, dystopian landscapes and a Lord of the Flies-esque setting in a giant department store). This is fun with a capital F. I read it in 24 hours – sleep became a foreign concept – and I can’t wait for the sequel. For any fans of Michael Grant’s GONE series, this is a must read. You won’t be disappointed. (For age 14 and over.)
Here at Eason, we love giving you more books for your buck, which is why we’ve extended our 3 for 2 promotion to January 20th. It’s the perfect starting point for treating yourself with those vouchers you got for Christmas. To give you an idea of what’s on offer, I’ve compiled a list of my top 20 choices from this year’s selection:
Whatever you think of him personally, you can’t deny that Russell Brand is an extremely eloquent and knowledgeable character, which makes his first autobiography, My Booky Wook, a very interesting read. Brand speaks frankly about growing up in Essex, battling bulimia and addiction, and his constant battle with the law. Often poignant and at times harrowing, Brand nevertheless manages to inject a healthy dose of comedy throughout. One of my favourite celeb autobiographies of all time.
Dave Grohl? I love him, my mother loves him, he’s a cross-generational rock god! He also happens to be a very nice chap. Former Kerrang! editor Paul Brannigan draws on old interviews and his own friendship with the man himself to produce the most in-depth look at the amazing life of Grohl to date. Buy This is a Call together with Anthony Kiedis’ Scar Tissue and Slash by Slash, for a triple dose of rock goodness!
Mitch Albom’s 1997 classic, Tuesdays With Morrie, is enjoying a bit of a revival here in Ireland thanks to a nationwide theatre tour this year. With the stage version returning to The Gaiety in January, now is the perfect time to read this touching story of Albom’s time with his old tutor, Morrie, in his dying days. It’s a sad read but very rewarding.
Staying with biographies, journalist Caitlin Moran’s account of life as a woman is outrageously entertaining. You will laugh, you will cry, you will cry with laughter! Attention men: How to be a Woman is not just for women!
Something else that’s definitely not just for women is the new baking craze. Get involved! Learn to bake with the Great British Bake Off’s very own Paul Hollywood in How to Bake, the new title from the ‘Silver Fox’ himself. I don’t know about you but I’ll be picturing the ‘death stare’ hovering over me any time I make a mistake with these bakes!
And why stop there? Why not throw together a whole meal with Paul’s co-star Mary Berry’s Complete Cookbook. This definitive full-colour guide has clearly divided sections on topics such as poultry, vegetarian and yeast, with recipes for everything from Boeuf Bourguignon to Jerk Chicken, Nasi Goreng to Pad Thai, Quiche Lorraine to Zabaglione… Yum! Of course, when you’re finished devouring all of those delights, you might be glad you picked up The Dukan Diet… You might also be in need of some physical exercise and if you’re feeling unmotivated, I suggest reading Born to Run. It’s the story of the Tarahumara tribe, the world’s greatest long distance runners, and it’s awe-inspiring to say the least! If it’s more spiritual guidance you’re after, we have Rhonda Byrne’s bestselling The Secret, along with The Power and The Magic all available in our 3 for 2.
There’s plenty of novels to curl up with, including some great new releases like the lovely Amy Huberman’s I Wished for You, Monica McInerney’s latest heartbreaker, The House of Memories, and hilarious short stories from Roddy Doyle in Two Pints. We also have plenty of old favourites in the mix, including the devastatingly romantic Time Traveler’s Wife and the best book ever to be narrated by Death, The Book Thief. If you haven’t yet sunk your teeth into The Sookie Stackhouse series from Charlaine Harris, now is your chance, with the first ten titles all now in our 3 for 2 promotion! Ideal for both fans of the TV show and those just looking for something a bit meatier than Twilight, start with Dead Until Dark.
And finally, why not embrace all things Mammy with Isn’t It Well For Ye by Colm O’Regan, in which the comedian and creator of the Twitter sensation @irishmammies explores the phenomenon of The Irish Mammy. Go’way! Sure isn’t that grand? Just don’t be telling all and sundry about it…
If you want them, turn the page.
If you don’t, put the book back on the shelf, please.”
Imagine browsing the shelves of your local Eason and coming upon a notebook with these very words written in it, wedged between The Catcher in the Rye and Franny & Zooey. This is exactly what happens to Dash (well, except for the Eason part!). He takes Lily up on her dare and what ensues is a treasure hunt of epic proportions. As the notebook makes its way around the city, the pair send snarky notes back and forth to each other and, inevitably, begin to fall in love – but how does real life compare to the relationship they’ve developed on paper?
This is the latest collaboration from Rachel Cohn and David Levithan, the duo behind 2006’s Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, a fine novel and now also a film starring Michael Cera and one of the Two Broke Girls, Kat Dennings. Stateside, both authors are firmly established YA gods but neither have quite managed to grab the attention of the vampire fanatics and dystopian dreamers on this side of the water just yet. But just as John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars catapulted him up the bestseller lists here, so too could Levithan’s star be on the rise, with another fantastic novel due for release next year. Both have that skill for creating unusual characters, witty and affable, with just the right amount of ‘individuality’ for teens to want to identify with. The absence of supernatural themes in their novels can’t hurt either. These are ‘real’ lives, albeit lives set in the trendy suburbs of New York, where kids drink double espressos and stay out all night. If this all sounds a bit daunting to you then Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares is definitely a good starting point. It’s an easy, enjoyable read and thanks to its snowy Christmas setting, it comes with a nice festive feel too! The perfect present for those who’ve read ‘everything’.
Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares is currently available in the Eason Books of the Year 3 for 2 offer.
Teenage and Young Adult books have grown in popularity over the past number of years, thanks to the successes of Twilight and The Hunger Games. However, with such a wide and diverse range of genres out there, where do you even begin to choose the highlights of the year?
Well, how about starting with some oldies (but not really that old) and classics.
First published in 2001, Noughts & Crosses by Malorie Blackman is one of the original dystopian series out there for young adults. This hard hitting tale of love, death and betrayal is set in an alternate world where class and race decide our role in society, and it’s a must-read for ANY fans of The Hunger Games. We have the first two titles in the series in a handy bind-up.
Another amazing series for those who have moved on from Twilight and are looking for something slightly more edgy, but also featuring demons, vampires, warlocks and werewolves, is The Mortal Instruments Series Box Set by Cassandra Clare. With a massive movie due next year starring Lily Collins, Robert Sheehan and Jonathan Rhys Meyers, this is a must-read for those who like to be ahead of the curve.
Teen Thriller is the new Vampire Lit and you can’t go wrong with the Queen of Thrills, Sophie McKenzie. Book Three in her enthralling ‘Girl Missing’ series, Missing Me, picks up where Sister, Missing left off. It’s tense, taut, edge of the seat stuff.
Finally, I know he’s not technically for teenage readers but he is read by a lot of them so I’d have to say Lord Derek Landy and his Skulduggery Pleasant : Kingdom of the Wicked is a must-have for any teens who love an action packed, comedy filled adventure full of all sorts of madness and mayhem.
Now, when I looked at my overall list of books of the year, I found that they were all actually from the teen/ young adult genre. So, from these, here are my Top 3 Absolute Must-Reads :
First up is The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. This poignant, funny, tragic tale of a cancer support group for kids and it’s teenage heroine, Hazel , was one of this year’s gems. I implore you: read it and weep. It’s time for everyone to see what all the fuss is about. I predict that 2013 will be the year John Green’s star shines brightest and he becomes a global superstar.
Insurgent, the sequel to Divergent, by Veronica Roth is my favourite dystopian series since The Hunger Games. This edge of the seat novel is filled with chaos, warring factions, brutal governments and an empowered and strong lead female character, Tris. Again, this is one that I’ve re-read numerous times and it just gets better and better with every read. Amazing stuff, which will leave you breathless. Next up is Fear, part of the GONE series by Michael Grant. Think Heroes meets Lord of the Flies but darker. Teens and younger kids are trapped in a world where adults have vanished, powers have been accessed, both good and evil, and chaos is the norm. If you have teen boys or girls in need of some adrenaline-fuelled reading material, this is the series for you. Love it!
And finally, we have Wonder by RJ Palacio. A book of beauty and class that had me laughing, crying and basically wanting to walk around handing out copies of it and forcing people to read it. Like The Fault in our Stars, this tale of a young boy and how he and his peers deal with his facial disfigurement is not a tale of sadness and negativity, but more an uplifting tale of battling against the odds to feel, simply, normal.
It’s that time of year when the papers are full of round ups of the best books of 2012, and we hope that you’ll indulge us if we sum up the books that we have read and loved in the last twelve months. Hopefully you’ll find something here that I’ve picked out six of my absolute favourites, and then we’ve a full list of recommendations from the Eason books team for you to enjoy!
The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach
Absolutely and unequivocally my favourite book of the year, and one that features on the lists of almost all of our book buying team (credit for discovering this one must go to our colleague Stephen Boylan, who was the first to spot it!). Set in a small American college, following the fortunes of talented outsider Henry and his baseball team, it’s a book that takes in a huge sweep of human experience. Forget the fact that it’s about baseball (unless, of course, you’re a baseball fan, in which case read it immediately): this book is about hopes and dreams and striving to win – or even to keep going – when things are tough. It’s a huge and satisfying novel but nonetheless I literally read it in one sitting, absolutely spellbound.
Broken Harbour by Tana French
We all have our favourite genres and I must confess that I’m not much of a crime reader, but a new Tana French is always a forsake-all-other-books event for me, and Broken Harbour did not disappoint. A deserved winner of this year’s Irish Book Award for Crime Fiction, this is a superb piece of writing. Opening with the brutal murder of a family of four in a ghost estate in north Dublin, the book is in turns gripping and unsettling but always compelling and insightful. Tana captures the hopes and aspirations of the Celtic tiger and the dire disappointments of its aftermath in a way that no other writer has.
The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker
This is ‘the one that got away’ for 2012: a brilliant book that didn’t sell nearly as many copies as it deserved to! The premise of the book is simple, but very chilling: the earth has begun to slow. Days and nights start to last longer. Birds fall out of the sky, confused by the change in gravitational pull. Crops slowly fail. Society divides into those who observe the old clock, and those who try to keep pace with the new one. Suspicions grow and communities divide. In the midst of this slowly creeping dystopia, teenage Julia is struggling with her new life as well as the usual challenges of that stage of life. A brilliant, thoughtful and atmospheric book: definitely worth a read!
The Spinning Heart by Donal Ryan
The outstanding Irish literary debut of 2012, without a doubt. This book became an instant word-of-mouth favourite in the Irish bookselling world, and we were all delighted when Donal won the Best Newcomer Award at the Irish Book Awards this year. Set in small town Ireland, centred loosely around one violent event, it has huge emotional range. The many voices of the community tell the story, and the scope of Donal Ryan’s writing talent is showcased as each voice is honest, powerful and unique. Disturbing and at times brutal, but with an underlying warmth and understanding of human nature, this really is a magnificent book. We look forward to hearing more from Donal Ryan.
The Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling
This was certainly one of the most hyped books of the year – would it live up to the magic of Harry Potter? I must confess, I read it more out of a sense of duty initially: the machinations of a small town English residents’ committee didn’t seem like the most appealing subject matter! But a few pages in and I was hooked. All of human life is featured in the small town of Pagford and its community: from petty vanities and rivalries to the depths of grief, and the complexities of love and obsession. The book explores social class and snobbery with a sharp and critical eye. A very satisfying read, and one that establishes JK Rowling as an adult writer to follow.
Wonder by RJ Palacio
Warm, wise, funny, inspiring and heartbreaking, this is a gorgeous ‘crossover’ novel – one that works for both adults and kids. Ten year old Auggie is born with a serious facial disfigurement, and it is in his voice that the story is told. Loved and supported by his parents, he makes the decision to move from home school to high school, where he is met with a huge range of responses: from kindness to cruelty, embarrassment to attention, encouragement to avoidance. Auggie’s voice is brave and honest, and stayed with me for months after I put the book down.
Our Eason Team Favourites
Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan
Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain
The House of Memories by Monica McInerney
The Paris Wife by Paula McLain
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce
In the first of two parts, Eason Children’s Category Manager, David O’Callaghan, throws his beady eye over books for kids aged 0-12.
Christmas time… Mistletoe and books… What is not to love about a period of the year when there is an overwhelming choice of books that will have your bookshelves creaking, your head scratching (as you try to figure out which one to read next) and your family guessing as to what to buy you, as you seem to have read everything out there? Below is a list I’ve put together of books that, if I had a stocking large enough, I’d fully expect to find hanging on my fireplace (if I had a fireplace).
In the 0-4 age group, I can’t look any further than a trio of picture books that I adore for very different reasons. Pirates Love Underpants is a whacky, zany, madcap tale that kids will adore. Be gone those Aliens! Those Dinosaurs can walk that plank! It’s the Pirates’ turn to become obsessed with underpants. On a much calmer and more beautiful note, Guess How Much I Love You: Here There & Everywhere by Sam McBratney is another timeless classic in this beautifully illustrated series, with four more tales featuring Big & Little Nutbrown Hare. Stunning. Finally, I have to go with This Moose Belongs to Me by Oliver Jeffers. As is to be expected from Mr Jeffers, Moose is a quirky tale of a boy and his Moose…or is it HIS moose?! That seems to be the question. Brilliantly conceived and amazingly designed – I loved every bit of this book.
In the 5-8 age group, I have to start with Captain Underpants & the Terrifying Return of Tippy Tinkletrousers by Dav Pilkey, comic strip madness & mayhem from what I consider the original ‘Wimpy Kid’. You want bonkers? Well, this book is stuffed to the rafters with it & the kids will fall off the couch with laughter when they read it – so have plenty of cushions lying around.
Next up are two perfect gift books for fans of the hottest brands among 5-8 year old boys & girls: Bringing together all their favourite characters in a nice little gift hardback, Beast Quest: Complete Book of Beasts and Rainbow Magic : Complete Book of Fairies are a stocking filler’s delight. You can’t go wrong with these. Nor can you go astray with The Wind in the Willows (Gift Edition) by Kenneth Grahame. This classic tale gets a contemporary look from the wonderful David Roberts, illustrator of Dirty Bertie. Cute, feisty and stunningly produced… This is a must-have gift for families everywhere.
Another one that caught my eye is Spellbound: Tales of Enchantment from Ireland by Siobhan Parkinson & Olwyn Whelan. This gift book features classic Irish tales told through beautiful imagery and the words of Siobhan Parkinson. For anyone who loves a seasonal Irish-themed gift book for younger readers, this is a must-have.
The 9+ age group is our biggest, most popular children’s category and the choices are endless. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Third Wheel is such a no-brainer, and a sure-fire Christmas bestseller, that I feel I should be mentioning one of its successful ‘genre spinoffs’ instead. It has to be Dork Diaries 5: Dear Dork by Rachel Renée Russell. Nikki Maxwell’s latest adventure takes her on a mission to defeat her arch nemesis, with – as usual – catastrophic results! The Dork Diaries series has grown in popularity among girls in the past few years and continues to go from strength to strength. Other ‘Wimpy genre’ hits include Big Nate, Tom Gates and World of Norm.
Ratburger is a Roald Dahl-esque cracker from Mr. David Walliams. He is fast becoming the go-to guy for 9+ kids looking for hilarious, quirky and often touching novels.
Judi Curtin’s books are like a Hot Chocolate on a cold winter’s morning. With Leave It to Eva, she writes another cracker, retaining her title as Ireland’s answer to Jacqueline Wilson.
Finally in this age group, we have an oldie but a CLASSIC: The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien. Every kid (and grown-up) will need to be in touch with their inner-Hobbit, as the movie trilogy is about to begin. Tolkien’s tale for younger readers sends us back to where it all began.
Check back on Friday for the second part of my Christmas Crackers, where I will be looking at what’s on offer for the teen and young adult gift-buyer.
The Coca-Cola truck, the Kellogg’s Ad, Walking in the Air… When these start appearing on our televisions, we know that Christmas has well and truly arrived. A slightly less obvious but no less consistent feature on the small screen around Christmas time is the BBC’s annual foray into wildlife documentary. Planet Earth, Frozen Planet… over the years, we have been treated to some of the most mind-blowing feats of documentary film-making, transporting us to the most amazing places on Earth. Thankfully, this year is no different, with Sir David Attenborough and the award-winning BBC Natural History Unit returning with a landmark new series starting on Christmas Day. Africa: Eye to Eye with the Unknown uses remote HD cameras to paint a breath-taking portrait of Africa as never before caught on film. What’s more, it is accompanied by a fantastic book of the same name, available in stores today (6th December). This lavish and unmissable companion to the BBC One series reveals the undiscovered side of Africa’s five unique regions. Inspiring photography captures unprecedented wildlife behaviour, mesmerising new creatures and magical landscapes that will astound and captivate, and will challenge what you think you know about Africa.
And while this all sounds fantastic, I haven’t even got to the best part yet, because this is no ordinary book. Read on to get the lowdown from publishers Quercus on what makes Africa: Eye to Eye with the Unknown such a special publication…
It’s December now so we are officially allowed to spread some Christmas cheer! There’s nothing quite like a nice Christmas book to get you in the festive mood and what is Christmas without Raymond Briggs’ The Snowman? There’s a Snowman for every age group, even the buggy-bound. And best of all? There’s even a SOUND book with a built-in jingle bell! Sing it together now: we’re waaalking in the aaaiiirrr……
If that’s all a bit much for you, there’s always the more sedate Michael Morpurgo, with his Christmas Collection. It’s been a great year for Michael, with War Horse and Private Peaceful still selling like hot mince pies (see what I did there?) and you can always rely on him to tell a great story. This book brings together three of his previous Christmas tales (‘The Best Christmas Present in the World’, ‘On Angel Wings’ and ‘The Best of Times’), along with a brand new one, ‘The Goose is Getting Fat’, all lovingly illustrated by Quentin Blake.
If your little ones are just learning to read, try Horrid Henry’s Christmas Presents by Francesca Simon. It has simple text for early readers and everyone loves Henry. Why? Because he’s so horrid!
For those old enough to read alone, give them Rover Saves Christmas by Roddy Doyle. This is kid-comedy at its finest, complete with Doyle’s trademark wit. My 8 year old cousin couldn’t get enough of Rover the Dog and his adventures.
If you’re looking for something more traditional, try this magical pop-up edition from Walker Books of Clement C. Moore’s The Night Before Christmas I also highly recommend The Twelve Days of Christmas by Jane Ray, an absolutely beautiful book based on the classic rhyme. The illustrations are mesmerising and the cover even comes with a bit of sparkle!
And from the sublime to the downright ridiculous, we have Santa’s Christmas Munch, a board book complete with hand-puppet Santa. Stick your fingers in his beard and make him munch through everything the boys and girls leave out for him to eat on Christmas Eve! And after that, as is inevitable, it’s time for Father Christmas Needs a Wee by Nicholas Allan! I always did wonder what Santa did when he needed to go…
If it’s an unusual gift book you’re looking for, I can’t recommend The Jolly Christmas Postman highly enough. For decades, Janet and Allan Ahlberg have been creating incredibly intricate books with the most minute details, like mini letters to pull out and read, and all sorts of tiny items to examine. There’s always something new to find every time you open one of their books and this Christmas edition is no exception.
If you need to keep them busy while you’re doing the annual pre-Christmas clearout, you can rely on the Usborne Big Book of Christmas Things to Make and Do, which is packed full of ideas and simple step-by-step instructions for decorations, cards and wrapping, as well as recipes and lots of stickers!
We started with Raymond Briggs, so we’ll finish with him, and my personal favourite, Father Christmas. So jump up on that sleigh and we’re all on our way, to another bloomin’ Christmas!