Winter is often a time of waiting and expectation; counting down the days for Christmas; wondering if it will snow and preparing for hibernation and stocking up on food and fuel. Though food and fuel are important to prepare for the winter, a good read is paramount!
It might prove tricky to get your little ones to concentrate when they are starting to get distracted by a multitude of seasonal delights, including the latest toys, movies and tins of delicious treats, but we have a selection of irresistible stories which are sure to tempt even the most reluctant readers. So what better way to relax just before all the excitement of the Yuletide season really kicks then to read a captivating caper that will transport you to a winter wonderland. So find a comfy seat, snuggle up and turn the page to enter many different worlds extolling the pleasures of catching snowflakes, ice skating, building snowmen or snowbears, and admiring the magnificent expansive winter skies with twinkly stars and big bright moons…
Let’s begin with some tactile books for tiny hands to enjoy (far better than Christmas decorations). For 0-2 hands-on readers, That’s Not My Elf is the latest book from Usborne’s popular touchy-feely board book series. Tactile readers will enjoy the shiny pages and fuzzy insets while reading about five mysterious elves. Ideal for improving sensory awareness and language development! Small people unsure about going to bed on a long winter’s night, will enjoy hearing Are You Sure, Mother Bear? by Amy Hest and illustrated by Lauren Tobia.
For 2-4 age range, Nicola Killen’s heartwarming Ollie’s Christmas Reindeer about a young girl who helps one of Santa’s reindeer will appeal to animal lovers. Young readers will also enjoy Snowflake in My Pocket by Rachel Bright and illustrated by Yu Rong. This is a striking, simple good winter yarn about a friendship between a bear and a squirrel.
For readers of 4-6 there are some real treats in store, including Otto the Book Bear in the Snow – a wonderful adventure story about two bears returning to their home in a library. For Gaeilge readers Bliain na nAmhrán (Year of Song) is a magnificent collection of poems and songs illustrated by four talented illustrators. But Christmas would not be the same without an old favourite (first published in 1973) the unbeatable Father Christmas by Raymond Briggs. Readers of 4+ will be captivated by Brigg’s creation of Father Christmas as a grumpy, grumbling, grouchy man with a very important job to do!
There are some timeless classics and popular tales for 6+ readers to enjoy time and time again. This year marks the twenty-first anniversary of The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojciechowski with spellbinding illustrations by our current Laureate na n’Óg PJ Lynch. This poignant tale is now considered a Christmas classic. Refuge (published by Nosy Crow in aid of War Child) by Anne Booth is a simple retelling of the Flight into Egypt with beautiful stark illustrations by Sam Usher (£5 for every copy sold goes to the charity). The Best Bear in All the World is another favourite now celebrating a ninetieth anniversary! Fans of Winnie-the-Pooh will be delighted with this official sequel to A.A. Milne’s stories. This new collection of short stories is the perfect gift, and ideal for bedtime. The wonderful canine champion and his trusty sidekick Sir Bobblysock return in Santa Claude, another humorous and highly entertaining story by award-winning illustrator Alex T. Smith. Join the comedy duo in Rabbit & Bear, Rabbit’s Bad Habits by Julian Gough as their amusing antics leap off the page. We dare all readers to control your mirth as you discover Rabbit’s bad habits…
But before you dash to the nearest bookshop or library, remember a book is for life not just for Christmas!
ARE YOU SURE, MOTHER BEAR?
BY AMY HEST AND ILLUSTRATED BY LAUREN TOBIA
A heartwarming tale with a melodic reassuring repetition which is sure to have a soporific effect on most readers/listeners as mother bear and her daughter prepare for their long winter sleep. Lauren Tobia’s marvellous illustrations are the perfect complement to this charming story. Are You Sure, Mother Bear? is a comforting tale to satisfy and calm inquisitive minds reluctant to go to sleep or young bears hesitant about hibernation.
OTTO THE BOOK BEAR IN THE SNOW
BY KATIE CLEMINSON
JONATHAN CAPE, £6.99
Otto the Book Bear in the Snow by Katie Cleminson really stands out. This is a clever tale about two bears (Otto and Ernest) in a library book making a treacherous journey through the snow to return to the library for a winter party. The simple illustrations highlight the wonder and magic of the characters emerging from the library books as well as captivating their perilous quest. A terrific adventure story about friendship, teamwork, kindness and the joy of reading!
RABBIT & BEAR, RABBIT’S BAD HABITS
BY JULIAN GOUGH AND ILLUSTRATED BY JIM FIELD
HODDER, 112pp, €8:00
Rabbit & Bear, Rabbit’s Bad Habits is a marvellous laugh-out-loud story by Irish author Julian Gough. A robber wakes Bear up in the middle of winter! Emerging from her cave, Bear is a little bewildered by the blizzard until she meets Rabbit, who informs her about many things, including avalanches, the digestive system and what to do when a hungry wolf is chasing you! Follow this hilarious odd couple as they form an unlikely friendship and bond over many things, including a moonlight picnic. With expressive illustrations of striking winter landscapes and hilarious characterisation, this illuminating story of friendship, gravity and embarrassing habits is sure to bring cheer to every reader.
By CBI Book Doctor Síne Quinn
Síne Quinn is an editor with an M.Phil in Children’s Literature. She is a writing coordinator with the Bookmarks Programme at Trinity College and a campaign coordinator for College Awareness Week.
Children’s Books Ireland is the national children’s books organisation of Ireland. Our vision is an Ireland in which books are central to every child’s life and where meaningful engagement with books is supported by passionate and informed adults in families, schools, libraries and communities all across the island.
Our mission is to make books central to every child’s life on the island of Ireland through developing audiences for children’s books, supporting and celebrating excellent authors and illustrators and working in partnership with people and organisations who influence children’s reading.
The CBI Book Clinic will continue its nationwide tour in 2017 and is the perfect place to bring the young readers in your family to.
The Book Clinic is always free of charge. For more information, visit http://www.childrensbooksireland.ie/events