14 of the best new books for children for Christmas 2014
The instant classic
The Book With No Pictures
by B. J. Novak (£12.99, Puffin Books)
A picture book without pictures... huh? This text-only story book has been a massive hit in the US, and it'll only take one bedtime reading to find out why. The reader has to say every silly, irreverent and nonsensical thing on the page (BLORK. BLUURF. BLAGGITY BLAGGITY and MY HEAD IS MADE OF BLUEBERRY PIZZA!), which will make your child fall about laughing and you feel like a comic genius – result! Watch the author read to an audience of children to see how it's done...
The technology adventure
Invasion of the Overworld: a GameKnight999 adventure
by Mark Cheverton (£5.99, Simon & Schuster Children's Books)
An exciting and engaging adventure for the Minecraft obsessive in your life (it's an original work of fan fiction, not an official Minecraft product) and the first book in a series, so be prepared to drop everything to procure the others as soon as it's been read! When a real person is teleported into Minecraft his survival depends on fighting epic battles against the mobs on the server who want to destroy everything... including him.
The real-life story
Binny for short
A gentle story of friendship and family in a seaside town, brought to life by multi-award-winning author Hilary McKay, Binny for short is a sensitive but funny portrayal of Binny's life with her mum, big sister Clem, and small brother James and her determination to get her beloved dog Max back.
The nostalgia choice
Enid Blyton's Christmas Stories
Mystery and magic, laughter and mischief, friendships and family and lots and lots of delicious things to eat – every delight you'd expect to find in an Enid Blyton story is represented in this collection of festive tales. Just the book to get you in the mood for the Christmas holidays and a great length for newly confident readers.
The holiday horror
Lockwood & Co: The Whispering Skull
There are heart-stopping moments aplenty in the second, chilling installment of the adventures of London's smallest, shabbiest and most talented psychic detective agency. Apparitions, phantoms, coffin-looting... this is definitely not a tale for faint-hearted children.
The Christmas heart-warmer
The Hero Pup
The perfect choice for animal lovers, best-selling author Megan Rix's new story units Patch, a Labrador puppy in need of a home, with 11-year-old Joe, facing the first Christmas without his dad.
The non-fiction memoir
True Grit: Junior Edition
Could you cross a desert with no food or water? How would you cope if your ship sank in a storm? What would you do if your plane crashed in the mountains? Adventurer Bear Grylls shares inspiring true stories of bravery and survival in a special non-fiction story collection for younger readers.
The lyrical poem
Introduce your child to a classic poem about winter magic with this picture-book version of Walter de la Mare's Snow. It heaps its powdery / Crystal flaskes, / Of every tree / A mountain makes... Hopefully you'll be lucky enough to read it snuggled up in front of a window, watching the snowflakes swirl outside the window!
The laugh-out-loud read
The Parent Agency
The first children's book from comedian David Baddiel, set in a world where kids get to choose their parents. Eager prospective mums and dads are keen to win nine-year-old Barry's favour. From celeb parents to posh parents, there are loads to choose from – but will Barry manage to replace his own, boring family with an exciting new one?
The traditional tales
The Orchard Book of Aesop's Fables
Rediscover Aesop's Fables at the same time as your KS1 child with this beautiful retelling from Michael Morpurgo, with illustrations by Emma Chichester Clark. All the old favourites (The Hare and the Tortoise, The Lion and the Mouse, The Fox and the Crow) are included, as well as a few lesser-known stories.
The spy thriller
Young Bond: Shoot to Kill
Something terrible is happening in Tinseltown... and the young James Bond is about to encounter more gangsters than movie stars in 1930s Hollywood. Picking up from the super-successful Charlie Higson Young Bond series, teenage James is back in new, action-packed adventures – and death and destruction are on the agenda...
The picture book to pore over
It's snow day, the best day of the school year, and Danny finds himself alone at school with Mr Trapper, the worst teacher he knows. But after making an army of snowmen, eating sweets in Form 1b, skiing (with the help of some one-metre rulers) and having an enormous snowball fight, Danny and Mr Trapper make a wondrous discovery... A beautiful picture book for Christmas morning reading.
The code-cracking caper
Secret Breakers: Circle of Fire
The conclusion of a hugely popular series, this Da Vinci Code for kids is gripping, fast-paced and packed with puzzles (readers work alongside the characters to crack the codes themselves). Next step Bletchley Park...
The historical novel
Tygo is "the Ferret", forced by the Nazis to loot abandoned Dutch homes for valuables during World War II. Then he finds a girl hiding in a chimney. Can he protect his own family and resist the enemy? Can he be a spy and a hero and stay alive? A great war story for ages 10+, exploring themes of friendship and loyalty within a page-turning story.