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Children's Book Club: December 2015

Junior rounds up the best new children's books for the month

Posted: 1 December 2015
by Alison Potter

Timeline: A Visual History of Our World by Peter Goes (£16.99 Gecko)

If there's one book to get your child this Christmas, this is it. Almost A3 in size, Timeline: A Visual History of Our World is a spectacular hardback book which takes the reader on an illustrative and fact-filled journey through time. It starts with The Big Bang 13.7 billion Earth years ago and concludes with the terrorist attack on the French magazine Charlie Hebdo, in January 2015.

Belgian illustrator Peter Goes has ambitiously created a stunningly detailed timeline which brings to life major historical events and key time periods through history, enabling the reader to understand the life and culture of diverse time periods including the Dinosaur age, The Byzantine Empire and the First and Second World Wars.

Not only is it one of the most engaging and interesting ways to learn about civilisation and history, but it opens up a dialogue between parents and children to discuss a broad range of subjects including religion, politics and culture. It's a feast for the brain as well as the eyes, which you’ll want to read and reread time and time again.

Robin’s Winter Song by Suzanne Barton (£10.99, Bloomsbury)

Who can resist a Christmas-themed story in December? We certainly can’t, especially not when they’re as charming and delightful as this stunning picturebook from author and illustrator Suzanne Barton. An excellent introduction to the seasons, Robin’s Winter Song is a tender story of a sweet little robin's first experience of the change in season and the approach of winter.

Similar to her debut The Dawn Chorus, Suzanne has a distinctive illustrative style which is a gorgeous combination of collage, drawing and painting. She also has a very engaging and eloquent writing style, which is brilliant for exposing your child to the beauty of language, whilst also expanding their vocabulary. Shortlisted for The Waterstones Children’s Book Prize 2015, Robin’s Winter Song is the perfect heart-warming picture book to cuddle up and read together on a cold and dark winter’s night.

The Natural World of Winnie The Pooh by Kathryn Aalto (£15, Timber Press)

The Natural World of Winnie The Pooh takes the reader on an extraordinary journey through Ashdown Forest, the wildlife haven that inspired A. A. Milne’s famed Hundred Acre Wood. It’s a fascinating non-fiction read which gives fans of the honey-loving bear a unique and nostalgic behind-the-scenes look at an iconic literary landscape. You'll learn about the remarkable places that influenced A.A. Milne's famous stories, including the old quarry which became Roo's Sandy Pit and Poohsticks Bridge where the author devised the famous game for his son, the original Christopher Robin who inspired the character.

The book is filled with many of illustrator E. H. Shepherd's original drawings which are featured alongside photographs of Ashdown Forest where the author lived and used to take long rambling walks with his family. Kathryn Aalto is a very engaging and passionate writer who really brings to life the childlike joy and magic there is to be found in nature, not only linking areas of Ashdown Forest to the settings and scenes in the Winnie the Pooh stories, but also informing the reader about the local indigenous plants, trees and wildlife that can be found there. It's an illuminating read that’s the perfect way to celebrate 90 years of Pooh and his merry band of friends.

Too Many Toys by Heidi Deedman (£11.99, Walker)

Like most children, Lulu has too many teddies, games, dolls and knick-knacks – more than she can ever possibly play with – so she decides to do something about her current situation. A wonderfully funny and touching picture book, Too Many Toys will strike a chord with parents and little ones who find their toy boxes overflowing, their shelves stuffed with toys and random bits of plastic littering every floor.

Apt for this time of year when children find themselves on the receiving end of even more playthings, Too Many Toys is a simple and easy-to-read story that teaches a very valuable lesson about appreciation and altruism, as well as the underrated gift of giving. Heidi Deedman, the inaugural winner of the Sebastian Walker Prize, is a talented illustrator with a singular, energetic style that will appeal to toddlers and preschool-age children. It’s a must-read post Christmas Day!

One Snowy Rescue by M Christina Butler and Tina Macnaughton (£10.99, Little Tiger)

Bring a little Christmas magic to bedtime and engage your child with this unique touch-and-feel picture book, which will have even the most reluctant of readers excited to feel the soft textured surface of Little Hedgehog’s red bobble hat. A gentle story suited to preschool-age children and younger, One Snowy Rescue is the ninth instalment of the bestselling Little Hedgehog series, which sees the loveable spiny hedgehog and his furry friends attempt to rescue Mouse and her babies from a serious snowdrift.

A tender celebration of friendship, bravery and compassion, author M Christina Butler is skilful at crafting a simple story that will captivate a young audience, and as with previous stories in the Little Hedgehog series, her words are perfectly complemented by Tina Macnaughton’s sweet soft pastel illustrations. A lovely gift for festive season, any young reader will be delighted to find this picture book under the tree on Christmas Day.


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