Booking them in for the holidays ‘S
From a brand new and cuddly ‘touchy-feely’ books for toddlers, to a range of hot-off-the-shelves local books and gripping new adventure stories – including a simmering new thriller from Anthony Horowitz. These are just some of the books that will be on of
O PLEASE oh PLEASE, we beg, we pray, go throw your TV set away. And in its place you can install, a lovely book shelf on the wall.”
So said world-renowned children’s author Roald Dahl in his famous classic Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
No doubt, Dahl believed that if children are not reading, then they should be, and how better to inspire a child than with a great book for Christmas to read during the long, holidays?
And, when it comes to choosing books for Christmas, who better to ask than the people who work with books and children?
“It feels there are more and more great reads every year, as if authors and illustrators are pulling their best rabbits out of hats and surprising and wowing us. For this, readers of all ages can be grateful,” says Veruscha Louw, manager of children’s books at The Book Lounge.
Tracey Muir, children’s librarian at the Central Library for the City of Cape Town, and Jacqui Rodgers, librarian at Tamboerskloof Primary School, both agree; there’s no better gift to give than a book.
Louw, Muir and Rodgers have shared some of the books they believe are “must-haves” for children of different ages. ● Muir’s recommendations: For toddlers younger than two: Muir says: Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister, Happy Christmas Spot by Eric Hill, and that old favourite The Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle.
“Rainbow Fish is an awardwinning book that will tug at the hearts of little ones. It is an excellent
“If children are not reading, then they should be, and how better to inspire a child than with a great book to read for Christmas?”
book that deals with sharing and friendship,” she says.
On Happy Christmas Spot: “I don’t know what it is about Spot but children absolutely adore this lovable character. As soon as I take the book out, the children clap and cheer.”
The Hungry Caterpillar “is a timeless classic that has won a number of literature as well as graphic design awards. Toddlers will enjoy sticking their fingers through the tiny hole where the caterpillar has munched his way through the different fruits.” For pre-schoolers of 3-6 ages: Bedtime for Monsters by Ed Vere, The Odd Egg by Emily Gravett, and Croc and Bird by Alexis Deacon.
On Bedtime for Monsters, she says: “I simply love using this book for storytelling because you are able to let the children use their imagination.”
The Odd Egg is her son’s absolute favourite book.
“This book has won the Kate Greenaway Medal for its witty text, and the pencil and watercolour illustrations are absolutely wonderful.”
Croc and Bird “is such a sweet book”.
“This story is beautifully illustrated and deals with important themes such as acceptance, differences and loving each other despite these differences,” Muir says. For Pre-Teens (8-12 years): Diary of a Wimpy Kid – Hard Luck (Book 8) by Jeff Kinney (released last month).
“The Diary of a Wimpy Kid is definitely a hit at Central Library. The series is enjoyed by both girls and boys alike. Children can identify with the character Greg Heffley and the daily trials and tribulations that he faces,” says Muir.
Teens will also be sure to read the following books from beginning to end: Hostage (Book 1 in Bodyguard Series) by Chris Bradford, and Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games. ● Rodgers’ recommendations: For younger readers, aged six to eight:
The Name of the Tree is Bojabi, by local author Dianne Hofmeyer and illustrated by Piet Grobler, a beautiful book which came out earlier this year. The Boy who Cried Ninja, by Alex Latimer, and Goldilocks and Just the One Bear, by Leigh Hodgkinson.
The Boy Who Cried Ninja is about a little boy who cried wolf and nobody believed him.
“Goldilocks and Just the One Bear is a story about a grown-up Goldilocks who now has a family of her own and finds a bear in her own apartment. This is a book that will captivate them too.”
For children aged 8-10:
Boys love Zac Power, by HI Larry, the series called Dinosaur Cove by Rex Stone (especially for boys), and the Rainbow Magic series by Daisy Meadows (for girls).
“In my experience, girls also love Judy Moody by Megan McDonald, about a girl who is always in a bad mood, Mr Gum by Andy Stanton, and a new series which girls are loving is Sophie and the Shadow Woods, by Linda Chapman and Lee Weatherly, about a girl who keeps shadow creatures from the world.” For children aged 10-12: Rodgers suggests the Big Nate series, by Lincoln Pearce.
“I can’t keep them on the shelves.”
Both boys and girls also love The Dork Diaries, by Rachel Renee Russell.
“And, in our library, you simply cannot have enough Asterix and Where’s Wally books, as these are very popular,” she says.
Rodgers also recommends the Donut Diaries series, by Dermot Milligan, as a “clever and funny” series.
“Girls can’t get enough of books by Cathy Cassidy, who deals with subjects with which girls identify.
“And I recommend Anthony Horowitz, particularly his Power of Five series, for everyone in this age group, as well as Darren Shan’s Cirque de Freak series, and Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson books.”
Rodgers also recommends two books which have been nominated for awards this year: Lion vs Rabbit by Alex Latimer for the little ones, and The Great Unexpected by Sharon Creech for older readers. ● Louw’s recommendations: She’s currently in love with a book called Maps, by Aleksandra Mizielinska and Daniel Mizielinska.
“It is like travelling without leaving your room.” For the little ones: “I am loving the latest from Emily Gravett, Little Mouse’s Big Book of Beasts. She is a paper genius and in this offering she shows Mouse’s scrapbook, with bits of paper and painting over all the pages.”
Louw also recommends the Newish on the Block author, David Mackintosh.
“Standing in for Lincoln Green, his third book, is awesome. Lincoln looks in the mirror and discovers someone who looks just like him, a stand-in so to speak.”
For fans of Ottoline, Chris Riddell has published a beautiful read called Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse.
“This little book is a keepsake to ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’ over, for goth girls of all ages.” For the slightly older reader: Louw recommends Tim Lott’s How to Be Invisible, and Matt Haig’s To Be a Cat.
“Everyone is loving John Green this year. He has written amazing books, with Fault In Our Stars a favourite.
“I want to introduce you to a friend of his, David Levithan. If you love the honest writing of John Green, you are going to fall hard for Mr Levithan. In his latest book, Every Day, ‘A’ wakes up in a different body every day.”
Louw adds that Julie Mayhew wrote “the most beautiful book of the year”, Red Ink, which captures the angst and anger of a teenager.
MUST-READ: Aidan Murray, 11, from Primrose Park with The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, now a major motion picture series.
BEST PICKS: There are more and more great reads every year, says Veruscha Louw at The Book Lounge.
TOP TITLES: There is a raft of titles that teenagers will be keen to read.