Welcome to my annual Christmas book gift guide! Over the coming weeks, I will be posting suggestions according to different areas and age recommendations – these are fluid (especially for the younger readers) and even if they might not be personally relevant (i.e you wouldn’t ask for them), they might help when it comes to purchasing for someone else. For example, I make it a point to buy the kids a book each Christmas. Here we go!
What’s Up Top? by Marc Martin ($18.50) is an excellent gift for the Jon Klassen fans (as we are). The narrative builds up as it goes along, becoming more anarchic and humourous. This makes it suitable for those children who it might be harder to coax to sit down and absorb a story. Martin is a great Australian talent.
When fans of the musical Matilda see the author and the title of this book – When I Grow Up by Tim Minchin and Steven Antony ($13.95) – they will probably automatically start humming the words. Or is that just me? When I Grow Up also includes a bonus download recording of the song, making it even better value! The illustrations are bright and playful, a perfect accompaniment to the story. Given the kinds of pressures and anxieties kids can feel these days, it’s nice to have an optimistic vision of what the future can bring through imagination.
Next up is Here We Are: Notes for Living on Planet Earth by Oliver Jeffers ($19.50 – available 20th November). As you’ll note by its impending release date, I’ve not had a chance to get my hands on a copy yet, but I always feel like I’m in safe hands with this Jeffers. I’m not the only one – I took this picture a couple of weeks ago. Whenever Riley comes across a Jeffers book, he sits down to read it. Library or bookstore, it doesn’t matter. The illustrations are so luminously quixotic, they draw you in.
Here is a quick video about it:
Moving on to material suitable for perhaps slightly older, nonfiction-loving children, M is for Mutiny by John Dixon and Bern Emmerichs ($23.95) is an alphabet book introducing Australian history. The primary colours of red and blue feature prominently throughout, evoking the Union Jack and the roots of the European settlement, and, which is critically important in a book of this nature, there are also lots of facts about Indigenous people and culture.
Last of all, if you’re after a book celebrates family and loving inclusivity at this time of year, I recommend That Christmas Feeling by Lili Wilkinson and Amanda Francey ($15.95). When I was at the Eltham Festival of Stories last month, I was the page-turner for Lili while she read the story aloud for the children in attendance and they hung off her every word. Even though my own children will probably protest at being too old, I might pull it out to read to them this coming Christmas.
What picture book recommendations do you make? What are the best ones you’ve read this year?