Book review: Enjoy Christmas with Scholastic Children’s Books

Put away the Xbox, switch off the telly and discover the true spirit of Christmas in the sparkling selection of book from Scholastic this year.

By Pam Norfolk
Wednesday, 28th November 2012, 9:00 am

Our kids have never had it so good... from birth to teen years, there are books here to enchant, entertain and instruct. What a gift for parents as they track down the perfect presents this year!

Take a look at what’s in store:

Age six months plus:

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Fancy Dress Christmas by Nick Sharratt

Get babies in a flap this Christmas with a cracker of a book that combines all those toddler favourites – peek-a-boo pages to turn, bouncy rhyming text and lots of animal noises to join in with. There’s a fancy dress Christmas party, and everyone’s in their best costumes. Children will love lifting the flaps to discover which animals are hiding behind the disguises. Mouse has come as a candle, Cat’s an angel, but who has come as a Christmas tree? Is it Owl? Fun on every page!

(Scholastic, hardback, £10.99)

Age 3 plus:

Superworm by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler

Meet Superworm... a super-long, super-strong superhero! From the very inventive inventors of The Gruffalo comes a new and adorable character guaranteed to wriggle his way into our hearts. See him wind up for action and enjoy watching him squeeze in and out of all kinds of tight spots because there’s no other worm like Superworm. Yes, never fear, Superworm’s here and his adventures will leave little ones squealing and squirming for more. The truly imaginative ways a worm can become a multi-tasking superhero ensure Superworm’s destiny as a classic picture book hero whose escapades will be read time and time again.

(Alison Green Books, hardback, £10.99)

My Fairy Christmas Play Book by Dawn Apperley

If there’s a little ‘princess’ in your house who would like to help the Snow Fairies get ready for their Christmas party, then this Christmas play book will have them squealing with delight! There’s lots to do including decorate the tree, choose a party dress and make the recipes and the paper chains. And when that’s done, they can put on their own Snow Fairy tiara and bracelet and join in the fun. With flaps to lift, tabs to pull, things to make and a stand-up play scene with stickers, this interactive novelty book will keep little girls entertained for hours.

(Scholastic, hardback, £9.99)

The Highway Rat by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler

‘Give me your buns and your biscuits! Give me your chocolate éclairs! For I am the Rat of the highway, and the Rat Thief never shares!’ From the superstar creators of The Gruffalo comes a rollicking read-aloud rhyming story inspired by a famous Alfred Noyes poem. Accompanied by Scheffler’s big, bold and humorous illustrations, The Highway Rat’s daredevil adventures are set to become a bedtime favourite. Hours of fun for children aged three to six.

(Alison Green Books, paperback, £6.99)

Age 6 plus:

Willow Valley: One Snowy Day by Tracey Corderoy

The beautifully crafted Willow Valley series is proving a big hit with early readers and it’s easy to see why! Heart-warming stories, lively characters and enchanting illustrations make this an all-round winner. Four friends – Riley and Mimi-Rose the mice, Horatio the hedgehog and Starla the Badger – all live in Willow Valley, a place of fun, adventure and lots of ginger cake. Now winter has arrived, it’s nearly Christmas and Riley and his friends are very excited because it’s started snowing. Snowball fights, sledging and all sorts of fun beckon as the pretty white flakes float down to create a magic winter wonderland. All youngsters will want to live in Willow Valley!

(Scholastic, paperback, £5.99)

Awesomely Brilliant Christmas Doodles by Nikalas Catlow and Tim Wesson

At last, a book that takes the pain out of Christmas for busy parents! Christmas boredom will be beaten into submission by this hilarious doodle book which is packed with colouring, doodling and puzzling madness. Elf-doku puzzles, silly spot-the-differences and daring drawing challenges will have youngsters doodling well into the New Year!

(Scholastic, paperback, £4.99)

Perfectly Pretty: Christmas Activity Book

Samantha Meredith and Catriona Clarke

And how about a super cute illustrated festive gift full of puzzles and doodles? Little girls everywhere can celebrate the arrival of Christmas with this beautifully drawn activity book. They can decorate the perfect stocking, design a snow globe, draw a fairy on top of the Christmas tree and much, much more. Over 60 colour stickers will keep them glued to the fun for hours!

(Scholastic, paperback, £4.99)

Age 7 Plus:

Captain Underpants: The Terrifying Return of Tippy Tinkletrousers by Dav Pilkey

Need a zany, funny, outrageous story to stop your young readers getting bored? Look no further because Captain Underpants is back in an all-new epic adventure that’s one of his best yet! When we last saw our heroes, George and Harold, they were under arrest and headed for prison. Then Harold foolishly uttered the fateful words ‘What could be worse than going to jail for the rest of our lives?’ and changed the course of human history. In this ninth epic novel, Pilkey takes readers back in time to the carefree days of kindergarten, when the worst thing George and Harold had to face was not evil mad scientists or alien cafeteria ladies but a bully named Kipper Krupp, the nephew of their clueless school principal. And because George and Harold don’t actually invent Captain Underpants until fourth grade, the two clever kids are on their own and using their brains to beat the bully. Action, pranks and wall-to-wall laughter makes this essential reading for fun-loving boys and girls.

(Scholastic, hardback, £9.99)

Age 8 plus:

Horrible Histories Annual 2013 by Terry Deary and Martin Brown

To mark the 20th awesome and awful anniversary of Horrible Histories, here’s a book full of madcap moments and foul facts from days gone by. A new year is on the horizon and there’s plenty of new nasty bits to be enjoyed! Packed with foul facts, gory games, dreadful jokes and putrid puzzles, plus content from Horrible Histories TV, this is every child’s chance to pep up 2013 with jokes, grot and grime from history’s yuckiest moments. A must-have for all Horrible Histories fans, it’s the annual with rat-itude and guaranteed to make you go wow, aargh and yuk!

(Scholastic, hardback, £7.99)

Horrible Science: House of Horrors by Nick Arnold and Tony De Saulles

If your youngsters can stomach the sick side of science (and there are many kids who can’t!), then here it is in all its revolting glory! This really is science with the squishy bits left in. Get up close to fleas, dust mites and mind-boggling microbes. Horrible Science takes a look under the microscope to see what tiny horrors lurk in every house. Even the cleanest of neat freaks will be running for cover when they discover what they’ll never be able to get out of the carpet. House of Horrors dishes the dirt on the secret life of dust mites and parasitic pet poo, lifting the roof on the disgusting details of domestic life as only Horrible Science can. And beware of the cover which features a pouch of squishy realistic-looking maggots, just a taste of things to come!

(Scholastic, hardback, £12.99)

How to Change the World with a Ball of String by Tim Cooke

And now for something completely different! A unique and imaginative take on history that will have children looking at the world in a whole new way. By using examples from the past, Tim Cooke uses brilliant illustrations and an easy-to-understand and entertaining narrative to show how you can start your own empire, conquer your neighbours or even stage your own industrial revolution! This fascinating approach to history will mean that children never look at yesterday in the same way again!

(Scholastic, paperback, £9.99)

Age 9 plus:

Tom Gates: Genius Ideas (mostly) by Liz Pichon

Liz Pichon’s hilarious, illustrated adventure book is the perfect incentive for boys who are reluctant readers. A cross between a comic and a novel, it’s easy to read and will give hours of fun and more than a few chuckles. Seeing Delia without her sunglasses on is a BIG shock for Tom, but that’s nothing compared with the surprise that Dad has in store with his new-found fitness regime. He says he’s going to compete at the school Sports Day. Can you even imagine the horrendous shame that will bring? Meanwhile Tom, Derek and Norman are also busy with a training regime of their own –practising with Dogzombies to make sure they’re ready for the school talent show. The highs and lows of Tom’s life are funnier and more extreme than ever in this fourth wickedly witty diary from an award-winning series.

(Scholastic, paperback, £6.99)

Age 12 plus:

Witch Crag by Kate Cann

Kita lives in a post-apocalyptic world which has turned to nature since the Great Havoc laid waste to technology and science. In a tribe where basic survival is the only priority, she must make a choice to accept arranged marriages and being treated with less value than sheep, or escape and journey to the place that even the strongest men fear with their lives – Witch Crag. Kita chooses to flee to the crag but a common threat is facing the sheepmen and the witches who live there. Now the time has come for the tribes to somehow overcome their prejudices and join together if they are to win a war that threatens to destroy everything they hold dear. Cann’s clever, compelling stand-alone novel is a brilliant, teenage mix of dystopian futures, suspense, thrills and understated romance.

(Scholastic, paperback, £6.99)

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Stiefvater exploded onto the literary scene with her powerful Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy and now she’s back with another thrilling and emotionally fiery novel that goes straight to the heart of teen readers. ‘There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St Mark’s Eve,’ Neeve said. ‘Either you’re his true love... or you killed him.’ Part of a clairvoyant family, Blue has spent her 16 years being told that if she kisses her true love, he will die. So when she meets Gansey’s spirit on the corpse road, Blue knows that either he is her true love, or she has killed him. The boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her. Gansey is a student at Aglionby, a wealthy local private school. With three other mysterious and privileged boys, he is on a quest to find Glendower, a lost, ancient Welsh king buried somewhere on a Virginia ley line. Whoever finds him will be granted a supernatural favour. Never before has Blue felt such magic around her. But is Gansey really her true love, the one she is destined to kill? Blue never fully believed in the prophecy but as she is caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure any more. Multi-layered, subtle and full of angst, The Raven Boys truly has the wow factor!

(Scholastic, paperback, £7.99)