Fairytales, new and retold Fans o Maggie O’Farrell’s writing will be delighted she has penned a children’s modern fairytale, Where Snow Angels Go. Illustrated by Daniela Jaglenka Terrazzini, it’s perfect for sharing with children from 5 and up. Keeping with this theme, a new series, A Fairy Tale Revolution has published four feminist, egalitarian and environmental retellings: look out for Hansel and Greta by Jeanette Winterson, Blueblood by Malorie Blackman, Cinderella Liberator by Rebecca Solnit, and Duckling by Kamila Shamsie, all with illustrations by Laura Barrett. Finally, Starbird is an original fable written and illustrated by hugely talented Sharon King-Chai about love, freedom and the wisdom of children.

Fun fiction for younger readers For those children who are just emerging as readers, you are guaranteed moments where you will find them somewhere cosy curled up with a book over the festive period. Feed them the most appealing fiction and they’ll be well on their way to becoming avid readers. This year we love Clara Vulliamy’s new series Marshmallow Pie, The Cat Superstar; Alex T.Smith’s Claude at the Palace and Karl Newsom’s The Hat Full of Secrets. For those children who are reading independently there are some fantastic new books. The hilarious Simon Farnaby from Horrible Histories and the BBC’s Ghosts has written his first children’s book, The Wizard in My Shed. Merdyn the Wild is from the Dark Ages, he’s the world’s greatest Warlock, and has been banished to the 21st century for bad behaviour, and he’s about to create a whole load of trouble for Rose, aged 12. This book is full of historical gags, we loved it! Jen Cambell and Alice Lickens’ respectively write and illustrate the appealing Agents of the Wild series. This is fun-packed younger fiction with conservation themes. Last but not least, Sally Nichols has written A Christmas in Time – a follow up

to A Chase in Time. This time Ruby and Alex find themselves in a Victorian Christmas. Can they help Edith and return to the present day?

Gifts for older children The books listed here are perfect for children aged 8-12 years. Of course, children are individuals so you can always go a bit younger or a bit older. The publishing this year has been led by the pandemic, the Black Lives Matter movement and a growing desire for us to talk to children about what is happening around them. The Book of Hopes is the genius of Katherine Rundell in the middle of this pandemic. She contacted author and illustrator friends during lockdown to contribute to this wonderful anthology. These stories show that imagination can be a shelter, provide hope, make us laugh, smile and help us to see some light – much needed! With 133 contributions children will revisit this book time and time again. Timelines from Black History is stacked with facts and a visually vibrant, accessible hive of information on the people and the issues that have shaped Black history.

It’s an essential book

for every child’s shelf. And to finish our very last recommendation is Kay’s Anatomy: A Complete (and Completely Disgusting) Guide to the Human Body – Adam Kay manages teach our kids biology without them even knowing!

Happy gift giving! Use this link to find a complete list of all books mentioned.

Urmi Merchant set up specialist children’s bookshop Pickled Pepper Books in 2012. It is situated in Crouch End, north London.

Books for Keeps No.245 November 2020 5

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