Friday 16 November 2012

What are your top five children’s books of 2012?

With all the Father Christmases among us thinking about stocking fillers, ideas for re-stocking the bookshelves can be a very useful way of avoiding too much tat. Likewise, books make good gifts for other people’s children and help maintain peace on earth with parents who are dreading even more plastic toys invading their homes.

I'm always really interested in recommendations for children's books, so please, if you have a moment, share any books that have been a hit with your wee ones as a comment below. To get the ball rolling, here are the top five books that I think my son, who turned four in October, most enjoyed in the past year......

Billy's Bucket by Kes Gray and Garry Parsons
Instead of some trainers, a bike or a computer game, all Billy wants for his birthday is a bucket. Despite the protestations of his cynical mum and dad, Billy is determined, and eventually they visit Buckets R Us, where he picks out the exact one he wants.
Unlike the other presents he was offered, the bucket – and a little imagination – have infinite possibilities. Once he’s filled it with water, among the amazing things Billy sees in his bucket are a rock pool, a shoal of barracuda, two scuba divers and a coral reef.
While Billy relishes his gift, and thanks his parents for the “best present in the world” – they start to tease him about it.
However, at the end of the book, they learn their lesson, and it’s a stark warning to other parents out there who might lack imagination too.....

Manfred the Baddie By John Fardell
Manfred the Baddie was the baddest baddie of all.....that is until he got poorly and no one wanted to look after him. Manfred’s baddie shenanigans take a turn for the better once he realises the error of his ways. A very funny book with great scope for silly voices....

You Choose! by Nick Sharratt and Pippa Goodhart
A Christmas present from last year, this has been a hardy perennial and I can see its popularity surviving well into 2013. If you could go anywhere, where would you go? Given a double page packed with illustrations of a city, a beach, a forest, a volcano and much more, my little boy usually chooses the waterfall. Each page is filled with dozens of illustrations – of places to live, ways to travel, things to eat and jobs to do. It’s a great book to enjoy together. We usually allow ourselves three choices each.....

Lift-the-Flap Fairy Tales: Goldilocks (with CD) 
by Nick Sharratt and Stephen Tucker
Flap books were still popular with my little boy this year – their appeal had a lot more longevity than I realised. This series of fairy tales rattle along with a fast rhyming pace and tell the traditional tales in a fun and up-to-date way. “Goldilocks had big brown eyes and such a pretty smile; She wore her curly yellow hair in funky dreadlock style.”
We’ve also got Cinderella, Red Riding Hood and Jack and the Beanstalk.

Winnie the Witch  by Valerie Thomas and Korky Paul
I think I even remember Winnie the Witch from my childhood. She was very new then, but her appeal has clearly endured and there are now lots of stories about her available. My son was given three of these books for his fourth birthday and they became instant favourites, Winnie’s New Computer in particular. He asked me the other day why Winnie is a good witch – I think he likes the fact that she is not a scary character but funny, grumpy and harmless, and the amusing interplay with her long-suffering cat Wilbur.
I’ve just had a quick peek online and there are loads more available, I’m sure Father Christmas will be interested to know.....


  1. I love this blog post, Thanks Claire. It was really hard to come up with our top 5 but here goes:
    The treasure of Captain Claw by Jonathan Emmett and Steve Cox
    Its been a year of Pirates and Princesses in our house and this story is one of our favourites based on the high seas! We particularly like that the heroic double act that escape from menacing Captain Claw are a pair of loveable dogs named Oscar and Lily, added bonuses that my boy especially likes are the fold-out pirate submarine and mention of a good dollop of stinky cheese!
    Topsy and Tim at the Football Match by Jean and Gareth Adamson
    I found this book on an vintage online bookshop. It was published in 1980, My twins love it because its about two other twins and I love it because in the story the mummy gives them fizzy pop to drink- how naughty?
    The Elves and the shoemaker retold by Lucy M George
    Another old school classic but this one has been retold and has beautiful illustrations by Rachel Swirles. My girl loves looking at the pretty pink shoes.
    Tatty Ratty, Helen Cooper,
    Again gorgeous illustrations, this time of dragons and other fairytale creatures and a great ending which ties this story about a lost rabbit together so cleverly.
    Ballet Class by Adele and Shelagh McNicholas
    This story has mirrored by girls first experiences at her Ballet School perfectly, down to practising 'good toes, naughty toes' and preparing for her first big show, wonderfully wholesome and everyday!!!

  2. Wow thanks Anna, that's brilliant! The Treasure of Captain Claw sounds very good - it's ordered! Surely Topsy and Tim are due a revival?! - though vintage children's books sound very cool :) and I know what you mean about books that seem to strike a chord with the real experiences of our children - like a first ballet class - afterall this is one of the joys of reading for us adults, so it seems pretty magical for them to be getting that out of books and reading right now :))

  3. My son is TOTALLY into A squish and a squeeze by Julia Donaldson at the moment, mainly for the bit when the cow gets on the table and he yells @get down!' at the book :)

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