It's been an outstanding year for books and there is something for every age group this Christmas, from tiny tots to teens. Here's a round up of my favourite titles of the year. Watch out for my full round up with longer reviews in the Irish Independent.
Sarah Webb's latest book for children is The Songbird Café: Aurora and the Popcorn Dolphin. She is the Writer in Residence for Dún Laoghaire/Rathdown.
My picture book of the year is the brilliant Oi Dog! by Kes and Claire Gray and Jim Field (Hodder £11.99) – funny, funny, funny! Age 3+
Other favourites include:
Chris Haughton’s Goodnight Everyone (Walker £12.99)- bright and vibrant – Age 2+
Nothing by Yasmeen Ismail (Bloomsbury £6.99) – funny and clever – Age 3+
Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick’s Owl Bat Bat Owl (Walker Books £11.99) – a treat for the eyes – wordless – Age 3+
This is Not a Book by Jean Jullien (Phaidon £6.95) – clever and funny – Age 4+
The Storm Whale in Winter by Benji Davies (Simon and Schuster £6.99) – charming with outstanding illustrations – age 3+
Odd Dog Out by Rob Buddulp (Harpercollins £12.99) – beautifully designed with glowing illustrations – age 4+
King Baby by Kate Beaton (Walker £6.99)- quirky and a bit bonkers – age4+
A Child of Books (Walker £12.99) written, illustrated and designed with Sam Winston – thoughtful and original – age 5+
Illustrated Fact Books
Historopedia (Gill Books e24.99)- history brought to life in glowing colour – Age 6+
Outside: a Guide to Discovering Nature by Maria Ana Peixe Dias (Frances Lincoln £18.99)- age 6+
Danger Really is Everywhere by David O’Doherty and Chris Judge (Puffin Books e9.99) - Hilarious look at ‘danger’ – perfect for Wimpy Kid fans
The Wolves of Currumpaw by William Grill Flying Eye Books £14.99
The tale of a remarkable real life wolf, set on the plains of New Mexico and illustrated in glowing coloured pencils, this is a stunning book which would make the perfect gift for any fact loving child of age 7+.
Miraculous Miranda by Siobhan Parkinson (Hodder £6.99)
Beautifully written story about Miranda whose sister is in hospital and how she copes with her situation. Clever, funny and great for reading aloud. Age 8+
Dave Rudden’s Knights of the Borrowed Dark (Penguin £6.99) – exceptional debut fantasy adventure novel
Judi Curtin’s Time After Time (O’Brien e12.99) – sweet, charming family/friendship tale
Novel of the Year Age 9+
Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo (Walker £9.99)- stand out novel about friendship, families and adventure
Ironman: The Gauntlet by Eoin Colfer (Marvel £6.99)- Ironman adventure set in Ireland
Anna Carey’s The Making of Mollie (O’Brien e8.99)- smart, sassy book about the suffragettes in Ireland in 1918
Robin Stevens Murder Most Unladylike series – fantastic – funny and full of strong girl characters and adventure - her latest in the series is Mistletoe and Murder
Nothing Tastes as Good by Claire Hennessy (Hot Key £7.99) – well written, compelling look at teen life and eating disorders with a dark, witty touch - well worth seeking out
The Call by Peadar Ó’Guilín (David Fickling £10.99) - the fairy book I’ve been waiting for – smart, fast and furious (and a bit gruesome)
Other Recommended Picture Books
For Art Lovers and Children Who Like Quirky Books:
The Liszts by Kyo Maclear and Julia Sarda Andersen Press £12.99
‘The Liszts made lists. Scritch, scratch. They made lists most usual. And lists most unusual.’ So begins this striking picture book about a family who love to make lists. The story is strong but it’s the clever, detailed illustrations and clever design that set this book apart and the 1920 inspired cover is truly sumptuous. A feast for the eyes. Age 5+
NY is For New York by Paul Thurlby Hodder £14.99
From Brooklyn Bridge to Times Square, this beautifully designed picture book highlights some of the most iconic landmarks in New York. The richly coloured illustrations are outstanding. Age 5+
Tiger in a Tutu by Fabi Santiago Orchard £6.99
Max is a tiger who wants to be a ballet dancer – will he ever get his moment in the spotlight? Fantastic illustrations in glowing colour – a great book for sharing with younger children. Age 3+
We Found a Hat by Jon Klassen Walker Books £12.99
Two tortoises find a hat but only one can wear it. More deadpan humour and outstanding illustrations from this picture book master. Age 4+
The Museum of Me by Emma Lewis Tate Publishing e17
Glorious picture book about museums and imagination. Age 5+
Young Science Fans
The Darkest Dark by Chris Hadfield, Illustrated by The Fan Brothers Macmillan £11.99
A surprisingly good picture book about a young boy who dreams of being an astronaut. Inspired by his own life, Hadfield’s writing is strong and the illustrations by Terry and Eric Fan bring this story to vivid life.
Other Favourite Picture Books This Year
Pass it On by Sophy Henn Penguin £6.99
Charming illustrations and a sweet tale about passing it on. Uplifting picture book. Age 3+
Little Monkey by Marta Altés Macmillan £11.99
A little monkey has all kinds of adventures in this adorable picture book with cheeky illustrations. Well worth seeking out.
Three Little Monkeys by Quentin Blake and Emma Chichester Clark Harpercollins £12.99
Staying on the monkey theme, two super talents of the children’s book world combine to produce a lively, funny story about naughty apes who cause havoc every time Hilda Snibbs leaves her house.
The Building Boy by Ross Montgomery and David Litchfield (Faber and Faber £6.99) about a boy who builds a grandmother
The Snow Beast by Chris Haughton (Andersen Press £6.99) sees the return of the kindly Beast
A Treasury of Songs by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Axel Scheffler Macmillan £14.99
A splendid hardback containing 23 of Donaldson’s favourite songs, plus a CD with the music to sing along to.
Changed the World by Kate Pankhurst (Bloomsbury £6.99) which is bursting with remarkable women, from Marie Curie to Frida Kahlo and is illustrated with humour and verve.
Philippa Pearse’s classic time slip novel for age 8+, Tom’s Midnight Garden has been given a graphic novel make over by Edith (Oxford University Press £12.99) and Michael Morpurgo’s Greatest Animal Stories (Oxford University Press e21.30) brings together tales of hungry wolves and mischievous spiders in one handsome collection.
Bright, thoughtful nine year olds will love the new edition of Anne of Green Gables by L M Montgomery, with exquisite, gently coloured illustrations by Sophie Allsopp.
Fans of animal tales will enjoy Michael Morpurgo’s The Fox and the Ghost King (Harpercollins £9.99), illustrated by Michael Foreman. Age 7+.
More Fiction Age 9+
Animalcolm by David Baddiel (Harpercollins £10.99) is perfect for David Walliams fans. Funny with great illustrations by Jim Field.
Pax by Sarah Pennypacker with illustrations by Jon Klassan Harpercollins £12.99
Perfect for Kate DiCamillo fans, story of a boy and his fox who are separated and the boy’s journey to find him. Beautifully written and moving story.
Cogheart by Peter Bunzl – great action adventure novel with clockwork creatures and a fast plot
The Mighty Dynamo by Kieran Crowley (Macmillan £6.99)
Noah wants to be a professional footballer but he gets banned from his school football team. But he finds his own way to enter the competition. Great underdog story for football fans.
The Thing About JellyFish by Ali Benjamin
Now in paperback, a wonderful story of friendship, loss and jellyfish. Beautifully written – ideal for fans of Wonder.