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Xmas books for kids

This year's top Christmas books for children, chosen by Castle Cary's Bailey Hill Bookshop

From Pirates to Vikings, Africa to Moonminland, here’s our pick of the best kids books this Christmas, as chosen by the bookworms at the independent Bailey Hill Bookshop in Castle Cary.

Three Little Owls by John Yeoman, Emanuele Luzzati and Quentin Blake

This story of three owls on an adventure around the world and arriving back in time for Christmas day was written by Italian artist Emanuele Luzzati. But no need to speak the lingo – it’s been translated with tongue-twistingly good rhymes by John Yeoman and is illustrated by the fantabulous Quentin Blake.

Pirates Magnified by David Long

Meet notorious pirates Blackbeard, Captain Kidd and more on their real-life swashbuckling adventures. With sections on navigation, survival at sea, the Pirate Code and finding treasure, as well as cutaways of ships to explore. Packed with info and with over 200 pirate-related things to find (magnifying glass included). Should keep ’em occupied for a while.

The Explorer by Katherine Rundell

Set in the Amazon jungle, The Explorer tells the story of four children who are stranded in the rainforest following a plane crash. Fred, Lila, Con and Max find themselves forced to adapt to their new, dangerous surroundings quickly, in order to stay alive. With no hope of rescue the chances of getting home seems terrifyingly small. Eeek!

The Snow Angel by Lauren St John

Growing up in vibrant, crowded Nairobi, 12-year-old Makena has only one dream: to climb Mount Kenya like her hero, her mountain guide father. But when her beautiful world is shattered, she finds that in the city’s dark places there are a thousand ways to fall, each more deadly than any crevasse. A powerful modern day fairytale about the strength of the human spirit, the power of friendship and beauty of nature has gorgeous, full-page illustrations and makes a fab gift book.

Father Christmas and Me by Matt Haig

The third in the festive series is just out. When the jealous Easter Bunny and his rabbit army try to stop Christmas, it’s up to Amelia and her adoptive parents, the newly married Father Christmas and Merry Christmas, to keep Christmas alive. Let the battle begin!

Billy and the Minpins by Roald Dahl

Billy’s mum says he must never go out through the garden gate and explore the dark forest beyond. So, one day, that’s exactly what he does! There he meets the Minpins, tiny tree-dwelling people whose children are the size of matchsticks. They live in fear of the terrible, galloping GRUNCHER. Will it gobble Billy too – or can he find a way to defeat the hungry beast? This is a brand new edition of Dahl’s final book, illustrated for the first time by Quentin Blake.

Moominland Midwinter by Tove Jansson

Everyone knows that the Moomins sleep through the winter, but this year Moomintroll has woken up in January. After his initial shock at seeing his familiar haunts under the snow, Moomintroll discovers that winter is worth waking up for after all. Originally published in 1957, these stories are timeless. If you’re up in London over the hols, check out the new exhibition of the famous Finn’s illustrations and paintings  at the Dulwich Picture Gallery.

Polar Bears Explorer Club by Alex Bell

When Stella joins the Polar Bear Explorers on an expedition to the Icelands, her eyes are opened to a world of danger, adventure and snow pirates. Out in the icy wilds there are giant yetis, magical golden geese, terrifying carnivorous cabbages and important new friendships to be made. A middle grade book, part fantasy, part fairytale, with the underlying message that everyone is equal.

Norse Myths by Kevin Crossley-Holland

Fast moving and ice-bright, the myths of the Vikings tell how the world was created and how it will be destroyed only to begin again. These ancient stories of dazzling magic and thrilling journeys are dramatically retold by Carnegie Medal winner Crossley-Holland and lavishly ilustrated by Jeffery Alan Love. Suitable for kids with an encylcopaedic knowledge of Norse mytholoy – or none.

Bailey Hill Bookshop,  Fore Street, Castle Cary  BA7 7BG. Tel 01963 350917. Open Mon-Fri 9.30am-5.3-pm; Sat 9.30am-5.pm. baileyhillbookshop.com

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