16 of the best new books for children for Christmas 2015
The instant classic
A boy called Christmas
by Matt Haig (£9.99, Canongate)
A new festive favourite, this is the true story of Father Christmas, or how an ordinary boy called Nikolas journeyed to Elfhelm, the home of the elves, and learned to believe in magic. Packed with beautiful illustrations, this is the perfect candidate for whole-family reading in front of the tree this December.
The behind-the-scenes guide
National Theatre: All about theatre
(£14.99, Walker Books)
Going to the panto or the ballet or a show during the festive season? Harness your child's interest in the performing arts with this treasure trove of a book, packed with details about all aspects of life on the stage. Writers, directors, cast members, technicians and musicians share their craft, with lavish photography to demonstrate what's achieved with props, sets, costumes and make-up.
The laugh-out-loud read
Danger is Still Everywhere: Beware of the Dog
Could you be a Dangerologist? Thankfully the ultra-qualified Docter Noel Zone has compiled a second handbook to help us all avoid the common dangers lurking around every corner. A brilliantly silly handbook for worriers and over-cautious parents of every age, the comic-book format is perfect for reluctant readers.
The Christmas heart-warmer
Winnie-the-Pooh isn't just a literary creation; a real bear called Winnie inspired A. A. Milne to write stories about a boy and a bear for his son, Christopher Robin. Winnie the bear had an amazing story to tell, too, of a journey from Canada to Salisbury Plain to London Zoo, and a life as a mascot to the Second Canadian Infantry Brigade. Winnie's incredible tale is brought to life by the great-grandaughter of Winnie's rescuer in this fascinating picture book.
The super-spy handbook
How to be an International Spy
Code breaking, gadgets, surveillance, disguises and more... it's all in a day's work for an international spy. Budding undercover agents will be captivated by details of blueprints and classified operations and fascinated by spy missions of the past. Be warned, though: you might find them planning a few top-secret exploits around the house as they put their knowledge into practice...
The supernatural series blockbuster
How to Fight a Dragon's Fury
The epic How to Train Your Dragon series (seven million books sold worldwide!) comes to an end with the twelfth and final adventure for Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III. If your child's already a fan they'll devour this in a few hours; if not, cancel all Christmas plans and prepare for some mammoth reading sessions snuggled up on the sofa, with a screening of the films in the evening. Enjoy!
The heroic tale
Magnus Chase and the Sword of Summer
Fans of Percy Jackson, rejoice! Rick Riordan is back with a new series about an American teenager and the Norse gods of Asgard who he might just be related to... Guaranteed to be the Christmas-Day read of choice for thousands of children worldwide.
The festive favourite
Mog's Christmas Calamity
Whether your child is a life-long Mog fan or a new convert after watching the Sainsbury's Christmas 2015 advert, a new story about the much-loved forgetful cat is cause for celebration. Mog and the Thomas family are looking forward to Christmas, but when Mog wakes up calamity strikes (as it often does when Mog's around...). Can she save the day? The book is exclusively available at Sainsbury's, with all the profits from the sale going to Save the Children to improve child literacy in the UK.
The non-fiction compendium
Stuff You Should Know!
Answers to every "How does that work?" question you can think of, presented in a quirky, funny manual for children and parents. How does a microwave warm up your food? How does a refrigerator cool it down? How do the vacuum cleaner, the doorbell and the television work? The whole family will sepnd hours poring over this book.
The code-cracking caper
The Blackthorn Key
A historical murder mystery packed with codes to crack, secrets to discover, potions, pranks and explosions, The Blackthorn Key will introduce your child to seventeeth-century London and the world of an apothecary's apprentice. A fast-paced, unputdownable page-turner which will have them reading under the covers long after bedtime...
The traditional read
The Orchard Book of Bedtime Fairy Tales
Rediscover some classic fairy stories with your KS1 child with this beautiful treasury. The stories (old favourites like Little Red Riding Hood and The Magic Cooking Pot as well as lesser-known tales like Lazy Jack or Chicken Licken) are just the right length for bedtime reading, with colourful illustrations on every page.
The action-packed princess story
The Princess in Black
Magnolia is a prim and perfect princess in pink... or is she? When a big, blue (and hungry) monster arrives in the kingdom from Monster Land, a back-flipping, monster-catching Princess in Black is on hand to save the day. A lovely early reader for girls (and boys) who like ninja moves and superheroes just as much as sparkly tiaras and dainty dresses!
The epic adventure
The Secrets of the Wild Wood
We're back in the Kingdom of Dagonaut, a world of knights, enchanted forests, ancient curses and heroes' quests with the sequel to the million-copy Dutch bestseller The Letter for the King. The perfect book to lose yourself in on a cold winter afternoon.
The DIY fairy tale
The Sleeping Beauty Theatre: Put on your own show
An "interactive" book of the very best kind, powered by your child's imagination. This beautiful paper theatre offers all the elements you need to stage Sleeping Beauty, including interchangeable scenery, moveable characters and free-standing props. All the pieces can be stored away inside the theatre when not in use, and your child can choose whether to follow the fairytale script provided or come up with their own take on the traditional tale. Magical.
The nostalgia choice
The Story of a Nutcracker
The tale that inspired the classic Christmas ballet is packed with toys, festive lights, parties, sugar-spun palaces and dolls, but threatened by a malevolent Mouse King and his army. On Christmas Eve the brave little Nutcracker comes to life and fights in an enchanted world, watched by the little girl who owns him.
The historical novel
Whistling in the Dark
Set in Liverpool during the Second World War, the new children's novel from Shirley Hughes takes us back to a world of rationing, bombs and neighbourhood solidarity and introduces us to the heroes of the Mervhant Navy, who risked their lives to bring food and supplies to Britain across the U-boat-infested Atlantic Ocean. A welcome reminder, in a season of plenty, of what life was like just fifty years ago.