It has now become a tradition that each year, I ask an independent children’s bookseller to come up with their own Fabulous Five selection of books that will make wonderful Christmas presents. This year, I am delighted to welcome Laura Main Ellen, who is manager at Under The Greenwood Tree.
Under the Greenwood Tree is an independent bookshop, toyshop and cafe owned by Sophie Greenwood who after 15 years in the publishing industry decided to set up the sort of shop that she wanted to be able to go to. A fantastic selection of books and toys aimed at 0-11 year olds with a nice little café serving proper coffee, good tea and yummy cakes and biscuits. There is space to park your buggy, toys and books for the kids to play with and baby-changing facilities. It sounds wonderful, and a very happy place indeed.
Five (and a bit) Fabulous Books to gift at Christmas
by Laura Main Ellen
The Storm Whale
(Simon and Schuster)
This was our book of the month at the shop back in October and by golly it flew off the shelves! You can’t help but be attracted to the delightful artwork. Noi lives by the sea with his Dad and their six cats, but he gets a little bit lonely when his Dad is out at sea fishing all day. One morning after a great storm, Noi is wandering along the beach when he spots a beached whale! He wheels him home and plonks him in the bath to keep him alive. Of course his Dad isn’t angry when he finds out later, so they take him back to the sea together, where he belongs. A truly heart warming and beautifully illustrated story that is sure to become a firm favourite.
Clara Button and The Wedding Day Surprise
Amy de la Haye and Emily Sutton
(V & A Publishing)
A gorgeous book from the fabulous author/illustrator team who created ‘Clara Button and The Magical Hat Day’. Clara, her mother and brother have been invited to a very special wedding, but Clara can’t decide what to wear! A trip to the haberdashery gives Clara the chance to truly customise her outfit with all manner of sequins and beads. Disaster strikes when Clara dyes her hair purple and ruins her dress, but her and her mother’s creativity ensure Clara fits right in at the Hindu wedding. The detail in Emily’s illustrations is incredible; my favourite spread is in the haberdashery, which is reminiscent one of my favourite shops, VV Rouleaux. A unique and gorgeous gift to give at Christmas.
Smoking haddocks what a good read! Translated from Norwegian by Guy Puzey, this wonderful book details the simplistic, rural lifestyle of best friends Lena and Trille in Mathildewick Cove, Norway. Told from the viewpoint of Trille, no day is ordinary with next door neighbour Lena! Each chapter is like a brand new adventure, from the Midsummer wedding to recreating Noah’s Ark and will have you yearning to go outdoors and play. Absolutely hilarious, fabulous characters and a few little sad bits make this book one of my favourite reads this year.
The Fate in the Box
(Orion Children’s Books)
I am a huge fan of Michelle’s other children’s books and this was certainly no exception. I read this in almost one sitting earlier this year – I absolutely could not put it down! The detail in Michelle’s writing holds you captive as you are transported to 18th century Venice. Mermaids, flying cats and a seriously nasty villain make up the recipe of this seriously good fantasy novel. But more than that, it has an astounding array of characters that have you cheering and hoping for as they endeavour to uncover Venice’s secrets. Perfect for girls and boys (and grown-ups!) from age 9.
A Letter for Bear
(Flying Eye Books)
My favourite Christmassy book this year by quite a long way! I’ve always loved David’s illustrations and he’s really shown off his talent in this book. The orange, white, pink and blue colour scheme is a refreshing change from the usual sea of red, white and green at Christmas. Bear is a postman and delivers lots of letters every day, though sadly there were never any letters for Bear. He decides to host a Christmas party and invites all the people he delivers letters to. Later that evening, he decorates his cave and puts on his party hat and waits. As he begins to wonder if anyone is going to come, they all turn up at once and have a fabulous party singing and dancing. The next day bear finds that all the letters in his post bag are addressed to him, wishing him a Merry Christmas!
Joan G Robinson
(Hot Key Books)
Now I know I was only meant to choose 5 books but Mary-Mary is so little you won’t even notice her! First published in 1957, this adorable reprint by Hot Key has ‘give me as a gift’ written all over it (not literally as that might spoil this delightful cover). A compilation of stories, with the original illustrations, about a little girl called Mary-Mary with four older siblings Miriam, Martyn, Mervyn and Meg who all think Mary-Mary can be quite a nuisance sometimes. She gets up to all sorts of adventures with her toy mouse Moppet and often ends up surprising her brothers and sisters with a charming ending to each chapter. A little girl with a loud voice who so deserves to be heard again!
Thank you so much Laura, what a great selection!