books monthly november 2017 - books for Xmas

With just a few weeks to go to Christmas, now is the time to sort out some brilliant books as gifts for your family and friends!

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Winnie The Pooh - The Complete Collection of Stories and Poems



This month's charity shop find: Winnie The Pooh - The Complete Collection of Stories and Poems... Now I remember reading these stories to our two youngest children when they were toddlers, and they have always been firm favourites - but I didn't remember quite how brilliantly funny they were! This superb edition, in near mint condition, is a big book, beautifully illustrated by Milne's friend and neighbour, E H Shepard, and re-reading the stories has confirmed Winnie The Pooh as a firm favourite, to be treasured always. I haven't yet seen the film, but my understanding is that it is superb, and I look forward to seeing it when it becomes available on Blu Ray. This edition of Books Monthly is crammed with titles you will want to order for yourselves and for Christmas gifts for all the family. I'll leave you to make the discoveries for yourselves - there is something for everyone, and the December issue will be equally crammed, of course, with Christmas gift ideas! Happy reading!



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After last month's blockbuster title Goodbye Christopher Robin, there's a distinct touch of Pooh around still in the November issue - Stuart McBride's stunning new standalone novel featuring DS Roberta Steel following her demotion at the end of the last Logan MacRae book, is dedicated to A A Milne, and structured after the manner of all things Pooh; whilst in Judith Cutler's HEAD COUNT, also on the Crime page (left column), there are also various references to Winnie The Pooh - now have a quick look at the left-hand column on this page... Loads of books have arrived in the last few days, too late to include in this issue, so look out for a bumper Christmas edition of Books Monthly in December... In the meantime, happy reading!

Christmas with Macmillan Children's Books...

Rudyard Kipling's Just So Stories retold by Elli Woollard, illustrated by Marta Altés

Published by Macmillan 5th October 2017

Delightfully retold in humorous verse, with beautiful illustrations throughout, this is a beautiful reworked edition of Rudyard Kipling's children's classic, Just So Stories. In this stunning illustrated collection meet the cat who walked by himself, discover how the lazy camel got his hump, how the elephant got his long trunk, find out why the rhino has such wrinkly skin and how the whale got his teeny tiny throat. These well known, richly imagined stories tell of how the world came to be as it is. This is a smart, funny and younger approach to Kipling's work, and Just So Stories as you've never seen them before. Rudyard Kipling's Just So Stories are one of the enduring classics of children's literature and these witty, inventive stories have delighted generations of children. Combining the brilliant rhyming talent of Elli Woollard and beautiful illustrations from the award-winning Marta Altés, Elli Woollard's Just So Stories is an enchanting retelling of a much-loved classic for a new generation. A book to truly treasure and one you will want to share.


When I was at Primary school, from 1950 - 1957, we had story time for the last hour of every day, and my form teacher (and favourite) Miss Paige, would ask if we wanted to hear Milly Molly Mandy, Wurzel Gummidge, or Rudyard Kipling's Just So Stories. Sometimes we voted for Milly Molly Mandy - I never voted for the scarecrow, because I simply wasn't interested in his adventures; but more often than not, we would listen, enraptured, to the Just So stories. I have never lost my fascination with The Jungle Book and the Just So Stories, and when this beautiful book Elli Woollard illustrated by Marta Altés arrived in a superb Christmas gift box from Macmillan Children's Books, I was overjoyed. The illustrations are amazing, and the stories are as captivating as ever! I can't think of anyone who won't be amazed by this beautiful book!


Matt Edmondson (Illus. Garry Parsons): The Greatest Magician In The World

Published by acmillan 5th October 2017

Elliot is mad about magic. Completely and utterly mad. It’s all he talks about, all he thinks about, and even all he dreams about! And it’s not surprising, because magic is in Elliot’s blood. His great grandfather had once been known as The Greatest Magician in the World and Elliot is desperate to follow in his footsteps. But it’s tricky when the only magic book in the library is missing half its pages, and there’s no one around to teach you. But all that’s about to change when Elliot discovers a long lost letter from his great grandfather and embarks on a magical adventure that could change his life forever! Written by former professional magician and TV and radio star Matt Edmondson, and illustrated by the bestselling Garry Parsons, The Greatest Magician in the World is an incredible interactive novelty gift book featuring a brilliantly witty and exciting quest story, a cast of personality-packed magicians and everything you need to perform seven jaw-dropping magic tricks. Prepare to be amazed!


Again, I used to be fascinated by magic tricks, and had a Christmas gift set which included tricks with playing cards and coins; I'm not so interested now, but I can see that this fantastic book will appeal to youngsters - it's colourful, has a superb story about Elliott and his fascination with magic and magicians, and includes seven spellbinding tricks! A beautiful package!

Emily Bolam: Busy Nativity

Published by Macmillan 21st September 2017

In Busy Nativity, children can push, pull and turn the tabs to join Mary and Joseph on their long journey to Bethlehem, marvel as a host of angels appear and see beautiful baby Jesus in his crib. Children will love playing with this bright and colourful Christmas board book with gentle rhyming text which introduces young children to the wonderful story of the First Christmas. Children will love playing with the easy-to-handle mechanisms in this bright and colourful board book with magical illustrations by Emily Bolam, which is part of the hugely successful Busy Book series from Campbell Books.


A timely offering from Macmillan Children's books which celebrates the story of the nativity in spectacular style with tabs to pull, wheels to turn etc., as the story of the birth of Jesus unfolds. Amazing book engineering!


Julia Donaldson (illus. Axel Scheffler): A Treasury of Songs

Published by Macmillan 7th September 2017

As well as being the UK's most successful picture book author, Julia Donaldson is a gifted songwriter for children. A Treasury of Songs contains over twenty of her songs, including fun-filled action rhymes, Aesop's fables, and songs based on Julia Donaldson's best-loved picture books, from Room on the Broom to The Gruffalo. This beautifully produced songbook treasury is illustrated throughout with Axel Scheffler's warm and wonderful artwork, and comes with a CD of all the songs performed by Julia herself, which will be familiar to anyone who has heard them on TV or radio or enjoyed one of Julia's live performances. Now in paperback with a thick, foiled cover The Treasury of Songs will become a firm favourite on every child's shelf.


Julia Donaldson's timeless classics set to music - wonderful!


Joan G Robinson: Teddy Robinson Meets Father Christmas and Other Stories

Published by Macmillan 19th October 2017

From the Carnegie Medal-winning author of Marnie Wasn't There, Joan G. Robinson, comes the beloved children's character, Teddy Robinson, who has been enchanting readers since his first appearance in 1953. Illustrated with the author's original black line illustrations, Teddy Robinson meets Father Christmas and other stories is a heartwarming collection of tales that will appeal to fans old and new. Join Teddy Robinson as he has goes to the fair, meets Father Christmas and plays babysitter. He's sometimes rather shy and sometimes a bit of a show-off - but with his love of rhymes and his great imagination, Teddy Robinson is the best friend any child could have.


I was lending Teddy Robinson books to wide-eyed children from the public library in the 1950s - full marks to Macmillan for resurrecting him in this brilliant book - all the magic of Joan Robinson's captivating stories are still there!


Moira Young: The Road To Ever After

Published by Macmillan 19th October 2017

Davy David, an orphan, lives by his wits in the dead-end town of Brownvale. When a stray dog called George turns Davy's life upside down just days before Christmas, he sets in motion a chain of events which forces them to flee. A mischievous wind blows the two of them to a boarded-up museum on the outskirts of town where they meet the elderly recluse, Miss Flint. She has planned one last adventure before her time is up and hires the reluctant Davy and George to escort her. The Road to Ever After by Moira young is a magical adventure about an unlikely friendship and an unforgettable journey.


An amazing introduction to the world of adventure and fantasy by Moira Young - this magical story will inspire and captivate young readers instantly!


Margaret Wise Brown (illus. Clement Hurd): Goodnight Moon 123 & ABC

Published by Macmillan 7th September 2017

These soothing books introduce letters and numbers using familiar images from the beloved classic, Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown and Clement Hurd. Carefully re-imagined by Clement Hurd's son, John Thacher Hurd, Goodnight Moon 123 and Goodnight Moon ABC use artwork from the 1947 original redesigned in a bold and eye-catching way to engagingly introduce children to their first ABCs and 123s. Presented in a sturdy yet pleasingly miniature gift box set, this duo of books makes the perfect present for christenings, birthdays or baby's first Christmas


The perfect introduction to letters and numbers for tiny little hands using a classic design from 1947.


Chris Harris (illus. Lane Smith): I'm Just No Good At Rhyming

Published by Macmillan 19th October 2017

Forget what you think you know about poetry - this is something totally different. Chris Harris's I'm Just No Good At Rhyming combines wit, wordplay and nonsense with visual and verbal tricks to make you look at the world in a new and wonderfully upside-down way, reminiscent of Shel Silverstein. This entirely unique collection offers a surprise around every corner, from the ongoing rivalry between the author and illustrator, to the mysteriously misnumbered pages that can only be deciphered by a certain code-cracking verse, to a poem that is 100% genuinely infinite. Adding to the fun: Lane Smith, winner of the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal for There Is a Tribe of Kids, has spectacularly illustrated this extraordinary collection with nearly one hundred pieces of appropriately absurd art. It's a mischievous match made in heaven and the perfect gift for kids age seven and up.


Chris's book will be an instant hit with children - cracking codes, word play, rhyming, everything to make you smile as you tackle the puzzles and see the brilliant illustrations - a real winner!


Peter Bently (illus: Anna Chernyshova): Santa Selfie

Published by Macmillan 5th October 2017

Wherever he went, he heard people say,
"I must get a photo with Santa today!"

Santa is taking a break from Christmas and going on holiday instead. But it's not easy to relax when you're one of the most famous people in the world. From Paris and Sydney to the Great Wall of China, people recognise Santa wherever he goes. And all they want is to take photographs with him, whether he's in the gym, having a swim or even eating his lunch. It might not be as fun on holiday as Santa thought . . . Santa Selfie is a brilliantly fun, festive story written by award-winning picture book author, Peter Bently, with a smart message about the perils of being famous. Illustrated with great humour and warmth by exciting talent, Anna Chernyshova. Take your own selfie with Santa absolutely anywhere you go using the pull-out photo frame. The perfect Christmas gift for any Santa fan!


The world of Father Christmas is brought bang up to date in this super book by Peter Bently, illustrated by Anna Chernyshova. The inclusion ofa selfie frame is inspired!


Frantz Wittkamp (illus. Axel Scheffler): Fish Dream of Trees

Published by Macmillan 21st September 2017

Axel Scheffler's delightful artwork brings to life these playful and easily accessible poems by Frantz Wittkamp, wonderfully adapted from German to English by national treasure Roger McGough. There are lions and tigers and mice galore, not to mention a whole host of other bizarre and loveable creatures in this fully colour illustrated collection of short poems. Each four-line poem conjures a new scene or concept and their short length combined with the colourful detailed artwork makes this book ideal for introducing poetry to the very young. Ranging from the curious to the witty, the touching to the joyful, and all exquisitely illustrated by award-winning Axel Scheffler, Fish Dream of Trees is the perfect book of poetry to share with children young and old. A beautiful hardback with jacket covered in shiny gold details, Fish Dream of Trees makes an excellent gift.


Some of the poems are a bit weird and wonderful, but Roger McGough's words and Axel's illustrations are a joy!


Chris O'Dowd & Nick V Murphy: Moone Boy The Notion Potion

Published by Macmillan 5th October 2017

Martin Moone is about to finish primary school and feels he hasn’t achieved very much. He’s desperate to get his picture on the school’s Winners' Wall and decides that entering the Invention Convention science competition will definitely earn him everlasting respect. But Martin - along with his teammates Trevor, Padraic and the ever terrifying Declan Mannion - is having trouble coming up with a winning idea. Martin’s imaginary friend, Sean, comes to the rescue, and together they concoct a plan to beat the snooty kids from the posh school in town. If they can get their hands on some Notion Potion, a mythical brain-boosting beverage, then Martin will have all the ideas he needs. And so the gang embarks on a dangerous (imaginary) journey in their quest to become 'Boyle’s first Junior Genius'. The Notion Potion is the hilarious third book in the Moone Boy series, based on the Sky TV series from dream team Chris O'Dowd and Nick Vincent Murphy


Super funny schoolboy adventure involving a mythical notion potion and imaginary friends - brilliant!


Andy Griffiths & Terry Denton: The 91-storey Treehouse

Published by Macmillan 24th August 2017

The 91-Storey Treehouse is the seventh book of Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton's wacky treehouse adventures, where the laugh-out-loud story is told through a combination of text and fantastic cartoon-style illustrations. Join Andy and Terry in their now 91-storey spectacular treehouse. They've added thirteen new levels, including the world's most powerful whirlpool, a mashed-potato-and-gravy train and a human pinball machine. Why not try your luck on the spin-and-win prize wheel or hang out in a giant spider web (with a giant spider), or you can always get your fortune told by Madam Know-it-all or eat a submarine sandwich the size of an actual submarine while deciding whether or not to push the big red button . . .  Well, what are you waiting for? Come on up!


...And the treehouse just gets bigger and bigger and the adventures just get more and more spectacular. Superb fun from Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton. Where will it all end?

The small print: Books Monthly, now well into its twentieth year on the web, is published on or slightly before the first day of each month by Paul Norman. You can contact me here. If you wish to submit something for publication in the magazine, let me remind you there is no payment as I don't make any money from this publication. If you want to send me something to review, contact me via email and I'll let you know where to send it.