Christmas Book Quandries 2014

By Katherine Woodfine | 20 December, 2014

As part of our 2014 Christmas Special, we answered your festive book queries and helped recommend the perfect books to put under the Christmas tree this year. Here are some of our recommendations:


Activity books to keep little ones amused:

Maps Activity Book by Aleksandra Mizielinska and Daniel Mizielinski

Secret Garden by Johanna Basford

Animal Kingdom by Millie Marotta

Usborne Sticker/Activity Books (especially the dolls house and advent calendar)

Write & Draw Your Own Comics by Louie Stowell and Jess Bradley

Write Your Own Storybook by Louie Stowell and Jane Chisholm

Super Book For Superheroes by Jason Ford


A nearly-16-yr-old who (despite being an author’s son) normally only reads books if forced on him by his English Teacher. Likes: Minecraft, football, stinking out the house with teenage lad smells. And (slightly less predictably) tap dancing and musicals.

The Maze Runner by James Dashner

Will Grayson, Will Grayson by David Levithan and John Green

Minecraft Blockopedia

Fever Pitch by Nick Hornby

Winger by Andrew Smith

A Good School by Richard Yates

Catcher In The Rye by JD Salinger


The 8-10 category is one that I always get questions about. Newly Independent readers – what should they pick up? It’s such an exciting moment in the reading journey – full of potential, opportunity and discovery!

Tom Gates by Liz Pichon

Eva Ibbotson

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Swallows & Amazons by Arthur Ransome

Enid Blyton

Lauren St John

Non-fiction by Nicola Davies

Dorling Kindersley titles.


Looking for ideas for daughter who read 880 books in a year. All she wants is books but it’s hard finding unread age-appropriate ones.

Puffin Classics e.g. A Dog So Small by Philippa Pearce

Hesperus Minor range of children’s classics

The Bell Family by Noel Streatfeild

The Little Grey Men by BB

Michelle Paver

The Secret Hen House Theatre by Helen Peters

Beswitched; Magicalamity; The Whiz Pop Chocolate Shop by Kate Saunders

The Edge Chronicles by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell


Best non-heteronormative children’s books – and any story featuring a gay santa.

My True Love Gave To Me edited by Stephanie Perkins (the David Levithan story features one gay santa)

The Sleeper In The Spindle by Neil Gaiman and Chris Riddell

Also two examples of middle-grade books where gay families are an unquestioned part of the story’s world:

Mountwood School For Ghosts by Toby Ibbotson

The Pea series by Susie Day


Five year old girl who’s done Roald Dahl – likes cats, drawing pictures of cats, the IT Crowd, Wagamama.

Ottoline And The Yellow Cat by Chris Riddell

Weasels by Elys Dolan

Dixie O’Day by Shirley Hughes and Clara Vuillamy

Squishy McFluff by Pip Jones and Ella Okstad

Old Possum’s Book Of Practical Cats by TS Eliot

(Moone Boy by Chris O’Dowd – possibly too old for a 5 year old, but she might like the IT Crowd connection)


I’d love book suggestions for a pre-teen bookworm who is an advanced reader, but is squeamish about “yucky stuff” (which can mean either gore or kissing). She has read widely (Tolkien to Dickens, plus tons of YA) and I’m totally stumped for Christmas book picks!

The Princess Bride by William Goldman

The Letter For The King by Tonke Dragt

The Once And Future King by TE White

Frances Hardinge

Rosemary Sutcliffe


Any non-picture-books with hippos as protagonists?

Alienography by Chris Riddell


Best poetry book for my v readish 9-year-old nephew?

The Rattle Bag by Seamus Heaney & Ted Hughes

Michael Rosen’s A-Z of Poetry

I Like This Poem edited by Kaye Webb

Christmas Poems edited by Gaby Morgan and illustrated by Axel Scheffler

Any Ahlberg verse


What to buy a 2 yr old bookworm who loves nothing better than nursery rhymes. Ad nauseam. I think she would enjoy poetry. What have you got?!

Over The Hills and Far Away edited by Elizabeth Hammill

Hairy Maclary by Lynley Dodd

Each Peach Pear Plum by Janet and Allan Ahlberg

Any Julia Donaldson title

Macavity by TS Eliot illustrated by Arthur Robins


Listen to our 2014 Christmas Special featuring guest Chris Riddell