Shamelessly pink and glittery , My True Love Gave To Me (Macmillan Children’s Books) is a collection of twelve winter romances aimed at teen readers. Edited by Stephanie Perkins (of Anna and the French Kiss fame), it includes short stories by bestselling authors such as herself but also David leviathan, Rainbow Rowell and Holly Black to name a few. And if all that talent in one place is not enough to tempt you, then rest assured that this is one of the most diverse and inclusive mainstream romantic collection you are likely to come across, by a mile. Love comes in many different shapes and sizes and this touching, funny and festive collection shows us exactly that. Perfect for a teenager’s stocking!
In the Library Mice household, we simply adore illustrated fiction, and A.F. Harrold’s   The Imaginary (Bloomsbury Children’s Books) is a stunning specimen. The book explores imaginary friends and the visual offerings by Emily Gravett enhance the reading experience incredibly, with a particularly wonderful use of colours in predominantly dark illustrations. There is a fairly sinister edge to this tale which makes this beautiful hardback suitable for slightly older readers than other illustrated fiction.
Sybille Schenker  is back with another fairy tale adaptation, Little Red Riding Hood (Minedition, translated by Anthea Bell) after the magnificent Hansel & Gretel, and prepare yourself to be awed again. The mix of patterns, matt black pages, fine laser die cuts and beautiful binding work together to create a tome which is simply stunning. Schenker most definitely excels at using the whole book as an art piece and this is an incredibly luxurious volume, as dark as the Brothers Grimm intended.
Even darker is the incredible Through the Woods by Emily Carroll (Faber & Faber), a sinister collection of short stories in graphic novel format which are most definitely suitable for older teenagers onwards. Eerie and often suffocating, each  tale focuses on a girl and her sometimes Grimmesque, sometimes Gothic, sometimes plain horrifying fate. A compelling but definitely haunting book.
Staying with the fairy tale settings, Neil Gaiman and Chris Riddell’s latest collaboration, The Sleeper and the Spindle (Bloomsbury Children’s Books) is a stunning picture book for older readers about a young queen who does not just break, but completely shatters the mould and leaves her kingdom and upcoming nuptials to go and rescue a princess from enchantment. Gaiman  weaves old folklore and new twists together and Riddell’s incredibly detailed black and white artwork is lavishly enhanced with  gold metallic paint. A sumptuous tale of courage with empowered fairy tale princesses as we love them so.
Many young readers will have by now heard of Les Misérables because of the movie or the musical, but Victor Hugo’s classic tale of extreme poverty,  love, injustice and devotion in the wake of France’s 1815 Revolution is not all about singing. Marcia Williams is renown for her classic adaptations and she tackles Hugo’s masterpiece  in her signature highly detailed comic strip/picture book hybrid style with extraordinary results (Walker Books). The bleakness of the story remains but in a way that is both accessible and acceptable to children and the artwork is stunning, echoing the ups and downs of the characters’ lives perfectly. Truly wonderful, as always from Marcia Williams.
A new book by Oliver Jeffers is always a delight but his Once Upon an Alphabet (HarperCollins Children’s Books) might seem like a departure from his usual style. Jeffers is an experimental artist who likes to surprise and this is evident in  this alphabet book with a difference, a large format picture book which will delight adults and children alike. Each letter is the hero of its own mini-short story with the overall narrative also creating a tale. It is cunning, fun and as ever full of this Jeffers-esque effortless line which we admire so much.
Talking of large format picture books, Katie Scott and Jenny Broom’s gorgeous Animalium (Big Picture Press) is advertised as a “virtual museum”, open all hours, introducing its readers to its exhibits in each double-spread. Old-fashioned in the best possible way, this beautiful book marries informative text and illustrations to create a non-fiction book very much like a cabinet of curiosities, full of charm and wonder. The design and fabulous production gives this book a real and much deserved air of luxury, which makes it perfect for gifting.