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Books for Giving 2020


Each Christmas Books for Keeps provides our readers with a curated list of the best books for Christmas. This year we are grateful to Urmi Merchant of Pickled Pepper Books, who stepped into Santa Claus’s boots for us. Here are her recommendations for a very happy Christmas.


It’s truly been a unique year for all of us. Some things remain constant though, and Christmas of course is one of those. As I write we are about to go into a second lockdown, and you won’t be able to browse in bookshops this November. I can see from my social media feeds that all those lovely independent bookshops are on hand via their webshops, email and social channels, waiting to deliver the best personalised recommendations you can expect from them.


It’s been a tricky year for working out what to stock with so many great books being published and even harder to choose which to put in front of you here. We will certainly be recommending these at Pickled Pepper Books via our Book Fairy service and hopefully in person with our customers in December. There is something here for children from 0-12ish years and I’m sure that these gifts will keep giving throughout the year with the repeat sharing and reading lots of children love to do! As ever the selection from Pickled Pepper always aims to ensure children can see themselves reflected in the books they’re reading.


Board Books for Babies and Toddlers (0-2) Baby loves Earth: An ABC of our Planet is part of a new series of board books introducing babies to trends that matter. A is for Atmosphere, C is for Conservation, and G is for Green in this ABC book appealingly designed to teach he youngest children how to enjoy and protect our planet. Keeping with the theme of planet earth, we have a completely recyclable and plastic-free baby book up next. Search the tropical jungle in Where Are You Tiger? Go on a journey with little one to track down the rarely sighted tiger. You may even meet some other animals along the way.


Perfect gifts for the early years Michael Rosen and Chris Riddell have created a book to last all through your little ones early years in Honey for You, Honey for Me A First Book of Nursery Rhymes. Featuring familiar and forgotten rhymes and Riddell’s signature illustrations, this is sure to be a hit with the whole family! Award-winning illustrator Frann Preston-Gannon also has a beautifully illustrated A Treasury of Nursery Rhymes & Poems with 101 nursery rhymes, poems and songs to keep you all entertained well beyond Christmas. Finally discover 50 nature stories in Slow Down, helping carers and children to appreciate the magical transformations right in front of us. This is the perfect book for encouraging us all to go outside and explore.


Picture books to read again and again In the whole time we’ve had the shop there has always been an abundance of picture books for every occasion. This year is no exception – the only problem is choosing which ones to gift. Rain Before Rainbows with Smriti Prasadam-Hall’s lyrical text and David Litchfield’s joyous illustration is particularly pertinent this year, and full of hope. Lockdown YouTube sensation Rob Biddulph gives us Dog Gone, which will definitely put smiles on faces with Rob’s warm-hearted humour. The much-anticipated Julian at the Wedding is here too and we are just in love with Jessica Love’s illustration and storytelling. One of my favourite picture books of the year is A Story About Afiya, a James Berry poem, newly illustrated by Anna Cunha. Afiya is a girl with a white dress that records the memories of her childhood. From roses in bloom to pigeons in flight, this is not only a celebration of childhood but of the late Caribbean poet James Berry.


There are so many great books with a festive feel this year.


We’re highlighting the following: in A Thing Called Snow by Yuval Zommer, join Fox and Hare on an arctic journey in their first winter to find out what snow is. Emma Yarlett gives us Santa Post, sure to be a hit with lots of letters and parcels to open! And to top it all off there’s a new Dogger book by Shirley Hughes, Dogger’s Christmas, perfect for Dogger mega-fans.


4 Books for Keeps No.245 November 2020


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