books monthly christmas 2017 children's books

The latest selection of children's books...

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Katherine Rundell (illus. Emily Sutton): One Christas Wish

Published by Bloomsbury 5th October 2017


It's Christmas Eve and Theo - left at home with a babysitter - sees an odd-looking star out of his window and decides to make a wish. He wishes that he had some friends to keep him company. Moments later the Christmas decorations begin to disentangle themselves from the tree behind him, ready to wreak a little havoc ... Written with generous helpings of warmth and humour, this is a story about treasuring the people and values that really matter at this time of year from master storyteller and bestselling children's author Katherine Rundell. Emily Sutton's breathtaking illustrations perfectly capture the magic of Christmas in stunning detail.


Beautifully illustrated and written - this is the first of many Christmas books that will come my way in the coming weeks and is certainly in the running for the very best. I can't fault it! The winning combination of Katherine Rundell and Emily Sutton is unbeatable...


Garth Jennings & Sara Ogilvie: The Wildest Cowboy

Published by Macmillan Children's Books 21st September 2017


Way out in the West there's a town they call Fear
And only the roughest and toughest live here . . . When cheerful salesman, Bingo B Brown, rolls his wagon full of Wild West goodies into town, he's met with a stony silence. This is clearly no place for novelty bow ties and elastic lassos. Not even Bingo's dancing dog can raise a smile! But this town is not just joyless, it's dangerous. And as Bingo soon discovers, the people of the town are not just scary, they're also scared. It isn't long before Bingo and his dog discover why, as they come face to face with the Wildest Cowboy in the West! Saddle up for a spectacular ride with a wildly talented pairing: film director and author, Garth Jennings and star illustrator, Sara Ogilvie. The Wildest Cowboy is a funny and uplifting adventure story in which fun wins out over fear. Featuring a dramatic train chase, rattlesnake socks and a dancing dog.


Old-fashioned cartoon drawings make this a real winner - so colourful!






Michelle Hodkin: The Becoming of Noah Shaw

Published by Simon & Schuster 17th November 2017


In the first book of the Shaw Confessions, the companion series to the New York Times bestselling Mara Dyer novels, old skeletons are laid bare and new promises prove deadly. This is what happens after happily ever after. Everyone thinks seventeen-year-old Noah Shaw has the world on a string.
They’re wrong. Mara Dyer is the only one he trusts with his secrets and his future. He shouldn’t. And both are scared that uncovering the truth about themselves will force them apart.
They’re right.


This book is the first in a spin-off series based to the Mara Dyer series, which I haven't read, I'm afraid. The first thing to say is that it is strictly for young adults, and from what I've been reading about Michelle Hodkin, she has a legion of fans, some of whom are thrilled with Noah Shaw getting his own series, whilst there are others who are not so pleased. I can only comment on the book in front of me, and as far as I'm concerned, the writing is brilliant, and the characters are both intriguing and flawed at the same time. I can understand people worshipping the author... An amazing read!



Jo Simmons; I Swapped My Brother on The Internet!

Published by Bloomsbury Children's Books 11th January 2018


'I can get a new brother? On the internet?' Jonny muttered. 'Oh sweet mangoes of heaven!' Everyone has dreamed of being able to get rid of their brother or sister at one time or another - but for Jonny, the dream is about to become a reality with! What could be better than someone awesome to replace Ted, Jonny's obnoxious older brother. But finding the perfect brother isn't easy, as Jonny discovers when Sibling Swap sends him a line of increasingly bizarre replacements: first a merboy, then a brother raised by meerkats, and then the ghost of Henry the Eighth! What's coming next?! Suddenly old Ted isn't looking so bad. But can Jonny ever get him back? A hilarious tale of wish fulfilment gone wrong that every child will relate to - perfect for fans of Pamela Butchart, My Brother is a Superhero and David Baddiel's The Parent Agency.


This seriously funny book is out next month, but Bloomsbury kindly sent me a proof to review. Early teens will warm to the technical references and the whole concept of trying to swap your brother on the web makes for a great deal of hilarity. Up to date, cool stuff abounds in the pages of this terrific book. Watch out for it in the new year!


K K Nikolaou: The Nokka

Published by The Book Guild 28th October 2017


Imagine you were hopelessly trapped in a dangerous magical world that no one even knew existed and you were given a chance to escape. But then, just as you were about to, you were faced with a terrible dilemma. Forced to sacrifice your one and only chance of freedom… After solving a mysterious riddle, Jenifer and Jory discover a secret underground passage in the local woods. The passage leads them to an enchanting parallel world where winter is summer and night is day, and fairies, even if rather odd ones really do exist. But all is not what it seems and a disastrous chain of events cause the two of them to become trapped there… Will Jenifer and Jory ever make it back to their own world? A modern day tale of classic fantasy.





David Wallis: White Windows

Published by Matador 28th November 2017


In David Wallis debut children's book a family is struggling to function in a world that is moving at such a demanding pace, when the tranquility of their new home is threatened and their lives are changed forever by some very strange events which combine danger, mystery and intrigue.

At the end of a long summer s day, sipping a glass of her favourite tipple, Rita reflects on the difficulties her family have experienced over the last two years, with mysterious break-ins, an attack by Mr Fox who stole some of their chickens and the guttering on White Windows being painted what was going on?

Believing that the family are being invaded by bandits and thieves, Rita summons the police to the house, but they cannot find anything wrong. As the days go by and Autumn arrives, there are more strange sightings and sounds in the garden. And the family seem to be acting out of sorts with Lottie being disruptive at her new school and Gary, her father, behaving very strangely! Is all lost, when a carefully planned surprise birthday party for Lottie threatens the future of the new keepers ? The family are about to fight in a race to protect something special and sacred that has been locked away for hundreds of years.

White Windows offers a glimpse into a realm of fantasy, and suspense-filled action, as a vulnerable family try to understand the magic and mystery locked inside their house and how this will change their lives forever. The book will appeal to young readers 7 years and over that enjoy fantasy fiction, as well as those that enjoy gripping mysteries.




Anna Day: The Fandom

Published by Chicken House 4th January 2018


'THE FANDOM is an absolute thrill to read ... Highly recommended!' JAMES DASHNER, AUTHOR OF THE MAZE RUNNER
Violet and her friends love being part of the fandom for The Gallows Dance. But at Comic-Con, they’re somehow catapulted into the story itself – for real. Trapped in a twisted world where they’ve accidentally killed the original hero, Rose, there’s only one way to survive: Violet must fill Rose’s shoes and put the plot back on track. No story is worth dying for … is it?


This is another new year release about a group of teens who find themselves caught up in a fantasy world that suddenly seems frighteningly real. Brilliant.


Suzy Ultman: Tiny Farm

Published by Chronicle Books 7th November 2017


Embark on a Tiny Tour! These adorable shaped board books give young readers a tour of a tiny world with each turn of the page. With a die-cut on each page leading to the next adventure, and finally ending in the comforts of the home, young readers will delight in guessing what comes next while learning essential prediction skills. Shaped like a barn, with neon accents throughout, young readers won't be able to resist collecting them all to create their own tiny world.


Something to see behind the cut-outs in this and the following title. Little children with small hands may need help turning the pages but their delight at finding something through each window will be worth waiting for and esperiencing with them. Delightful!

Suzy Ultman: Tiny Town

Published by Chronicle Books 7th November 2017


Embark on a Tiny Tour! These adorable shaped board books give young readers a tour of a tiny world with each turn of the page. With a die-cut on each page leading to the next adventure, and finally ending in the comforts of home, young readers will delight in guessing what comes next while learning essential prediction skills. Shaped like a building, with neon accents throughout, young readers won’t be able to resist collecting them all to create their own tiny world.



Tony Mitton: Snow Penguin

Published by Bloomsbury 16th November 2017


In the frozen Antarctic, one curious little penguin decides to explore the ice and the snow and the sea. On his travels he sees two blue whales, a family of sea lions and a whole school of orca, but soon Penguin starts to miss his own family. Sometimes coming home is the best adventure of all. Told in rhyming couplets, this feel-good book is perfect for bedtimes and cuddle-up times. From bestselling author Tony Mitton, and beautifully illustrated by Alison Brown.


There can't be many people, especially young children, who won't find this young penguin's adventures absolutely thrilling. Perfect bedtime read!

Valerie Mendes: Where Peacocks Scream

Published by The Book Guild 28th October 2017


Where Peacocks Scream is told by twelve-year-old Daniel Williams who lives in The Riverside, a pub by the river in Wolvercote, North Oxford. The pub’s gardens include a bridge that leads to a wild patch called The Island, which Daniel considers to be his private territory and one of his passions. His others are for the peacocks that live in the grounds and his friend Josh, and Chloe, the Boatman’s daughter.

The story opens with the death of Cora, Daniel’s special peahen, whom he buries secretly on The Island. That summer, while he is fishing, he notices that he is being watched and photographed by a man in a white cap. The man turns out to be Frank Jasper who arrives to stay at The Riverside and begins to make Daniel’s life a misery.

What is Frank Jasper plotting? Why did he bring those peacock feathers into the pub? Can Daniel save The Riverside from Frank Jasper’s evil plans?

Author Valerie Mendes started writing when she was six years old and continued to write poetry and stories at school and was awarded a State Scholarship in English and History. After studying for a degree in English and Philosophy at the University of Reading, Valerie started to work for the BBC in Manchester. Valerie’s successful career spanned across journalism and publishing and after many years in publishing, Valerie started to write full time and has published two picture books; four teenage novels and two historical adult novels. Valerie now lives in Oxford and is working on her next adult novel.


D L Millan: Blackhart

Published by The Book Guild 28th October 2017


In 1822, Lord Blackhart regales his young grandsons with the tale of the Black Dove, a mystical curse which threatens to rise following the prophesied fall of the Blackhart line. Meanwhile, in the present day, teenager Callie is led into following a mysterious stranger some might say down the rabbit hole. A magical battle breaks out between Alexis (the mysterious stranger) and James Blackhart and those opposing the couple. Reinforcements arrive with Alexis' estranged sisters, the Doves, and the Blackharts return home to the 1800s. The two eras are connected in parallel due to a Blackhart portal; a unique family ability allowing travel through time. James' niece who lives with the Doves discovers that Callie's deceased father could create portals. Following a raid on the Blackhart house, Callie and Alexis meet again under devastating circumstances and a big secret that haunts Alexis and her past is divulged. Callie must escape before the secret becomes public knowledge and they face a race against time, through two parallel worlds and against the deadly curse of the Black Dove. The first in a planned trilogy, Blackhart is an exciting, heart-pounding ride filled with magic and adventure


J S Landor: The Mirror of Pharos

Published by Matador 28th November 2017


Jack Tideswell’s parents died in a diving accident while exploring the underwater ruins of the ancient Pharos lighthouse. So Jack wants nothing to do with adventure. Until that is, a seagull delivers a strange disc, addressed to him in his own handwriting.

In the blink of an eye, all kinds of magic are let loose, sending Jack on a dangerous journey. Can he learn to navigate time before it’s too late to save the one person who can help him unravel the secrets of the disc?

Whether he likes it or not, there’s no more hiding away. And no looking back. Especially when Alpha is watching. A wolf who sees all there is to see …

‘A wonderful mix of magic and reality that reminds me of the early books in the Harry Potter series.’ The Bookbag




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.