So many wonderful books are available at this time of year. It is a near impossible task to make a choice. Here are a few nonetheless, with part 2 coming in a few days’ time.

My Little Library by Edouard Manceau (Twirl) is a gorgeous and intriguing little box (with clever magnetic closure) with nine tiny word board books, each about familiar every day objects. On the back of each book is an extra illustration allowing young children to extend the experience and create new adventures. Manceau’s bold and simplistic style has made him a household name in France and he has illustrated an extensive collection of books for children and young people and this will make a lovely present for children aged 1 and above.

Over the Hills and Far Away (Frances Lincoln) is an anthology of nursery rhymes from across the world which was put together by Elizabeth Hammill, co-founder of Seven Stories, the National Centre for Children’s Books, and is sold in aid of it. Each nursery rhyme is individually illustrated by one of seventy-seven illustrators, including household names such as Shirley Hughes, Shaun Tan, Polly Dunbar and Eric Carle to name only a few. This is a stunning book which brings together old favourites and new rhymes to discover.

Shirley Hughes’ books are always going to  make wonderful gifts and there is certainly a huge variety to choose from, including two wonderful hardback books which have been released this year. A Year of Stories and Things To Do (Bodley Head) is a treasury of Shirley Hughes stories which offers a wonderful overview of her work. Stories such as Alfie stories, Ella’s Big Chance and the wonderful wordless A Midwinter Night’s Dream are included, as well as monthly activities, crafts and games to play. This is a stunning gift for any Shirley Hughes fan or anyone who needs to be (re)introduced to her timeless work. In Daisy Saves the Day (Walker Books), Hughes tells the story of a young maid at the time of the George V’s coronation. Brimful of vibrant colours, this book also offers a wonderful social commentary of social classes and the importance of education and is a charming picture book for older readers (don’t forget also her Out and About: First Book of Poems which I reviewed here).

Ursula Jones and Sarah Gibb are back with a new collaboration, The Princess Who Had No Fortune (Orchard Books), about a princess who has no fortune and indeed no interest in princes. Once more this creative duo manages to marry elegant and pretty illustrations  with a story with substance and a princess with a mind of her own – the perfect choice therefore for  parents of little princess fans who might be concerned about stereotypes.

The power of making up stories is celebrated with much glee and wit in Nicola O’Byrne’s Use Your Imagination (Nosy Crow). Rabbit is bored and the wolf (a librarian!) is more than happy to help him make stories up, with obvious ulterior motives … though whether he will have the last laugh is not so certain. Definitely one to share and see where your own stories take you!

In Anthony Browne’s Willy’s Stories (Walker Books) , Willy enters a magical place once a week which takes him straight into a fabulous adventure, from a dark rabbit hole to a desert island, there’s never a dull moment. Browne cleverly introduces ten classic stories to his young readers while highlighting the importance of libraries in the lives of children who might not have books at home. His signature artwork is as clever as ever, with books featuring throughout in the most unexpected places. This will undoubtedly be enjoyed by all ages.


Source: review copies from publishers