Book review: A shaggy sheep story and Christmas classics from Random House

A shaggy sheep story and Christmas classics from Random House

A shaggy sheep story and Christmas classics from Random House

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The bells will soon be ringing out for Christmas… and Random House Children’s Publishers have a stack of books that will chime with the family’s youngest readers.

RHCP rank amongst the top five children’s publishers in the country and their titles have won every major UK children’s award.

This year they are making Christmas extra special with a raft of festive reads from their stable of top-class authors and illustrators including the queen of children’s books Jacqueline Wilson and the perennially popular Shirley Hughes.

Age 3 plus:

Alfie’s Christmas by Shirley Hughes

The simple joys of a family Christmas have never been better portrayed than in Shirley Hughes’ delightfully heart-warming story of Alfie.

Hughes, who was born in West Kirby, near Liverpool, had her first book, Lucy and Tom’s Day, published in 1960. This was followed over the years by the two best-selling Dogger and Alfie series. She received an OBE in 1999 for services to children’s literature.

This gorgeous festive tale, illustrated with Hughes’ distinctive, bold and traditional style, brings home the importance of family life and the time-honoured pleasure in both giving and receiving.

Little ones will adore joining Alfie and his baby sister Annie Rose for Christmas, watching him open his advent calendar, making cards and presents, singing carols and decorating the tree. Alfie also has the important job of writing a special letter to Father Christmas. But what will Santa bring on Christmas Day? It’s going to be so exciting, he just can’t wait…

There is a beautiful warmth, gentleness and universal appeal to Hughes’ books which makes them a winner for children of all generations and all backgrounds.

Her bold, busy and enchanting artwork and reassuring storylines capture all the rollercoaster emotions of children as they work, rest, play… or simply enjoy Christmas with their families.

There could be no better way to celebrate Christmas than in the company of little Alfie…

(Red Fox, paperback, £6.99)

The Sheep that Saved Christmas: A Eweltide Tale by Jason Page and Adrian Reynolds

Can you ever love Christmas too much?

Cynthia the sheep reckons you can’t get enough of the festive season but her flock mates are not convinced so they buy her a ticket to the North Pole and wave a fond (but very relieved) farewell.

The Christmas-mad sheep wants to be one of Santa’s little helpers but it turns out that there isn’t much an enthusiastic sheep can do to help with the Christmas preparations – until disaster strikes and only Cynthia can save the day.

Author Jason Page works his magic on this warm, witty and woolly wintertime romp featuring an adorable sheep who will melt even the hardest of hearts. There are some wonderful laugh-out-loud jokes for all the family to share and Adrian Reynolds adds extra heart and soul with his terrific gallery of comical illustrations.

This is a brilliant book brimming with the fun and goodwill of Christmas … and destined to be a favourite with all the family.

(Red Fox, paperback, £6.99)

The Night Before Christmas by Clement Clarke Moore and Richard Johnson

There’s nothing like a traditional rhyme to evoke all the magic and nostalgia of Christmas.

In 1822, American scholar and poet Clement Clarke Moore wrote a poem for his children called A Visit from St Nicholas, later to become known as The Night Before Christmas. A friend submitted it to a local newspaper, The Troy Sentinel, where it was published on December 23, 1823, and it is now an international classic.

From the celebrated opening lines, ‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse,’ to Santa’s final ‘good night’ wish, award-winning illustrator Richard Johnson takes us on an enchanting journey into Christmas past, present and future.

Gorgeously evocative and colourful pictures bring to life Moore’s bewitching verse about a visit from Santa Claus and his eight flying reindeer.

A true Christmas classic to treasure year after year…

(Corgi, paperback, £6.99)

Age 4 plus:

The Fairytale Hairdresser and Father Christmas by Abie Longstaff and Lauren Beard

What little girl doesn’t dream of a fairytale Christmas?

Well dreams can come true with Abie Longstaff and Lauren Beard’s fabulously festive fifth story in their cleverly styled Fairytale Hairdresser series!

Just in time for Christmas and the panto season, the talented author and illustrator duo have conjured up an exciting new adventure for hairdresser extraordinaire Kittie Lacey, a feisty, hair-loving heroine for whom no tangle is too troublesome and no frizz too fearsome.

Kittie’s madcap antics, featuring the best and quirkiest hairdresser in all the land and everyone’s favourite fairytale characters, combine fun, fantasy and humour in simple, action-packed storylines.

It’s Christmas Eve, someone has stolen all the presents and it looks like Christmas will be ruined. Can Kittie help Father Christmas save the day and melt a certain Snow Queen’s icy heart?

Packed with Christmas glitter, elegant elves, coiffured reindeer, a whole cast of fairytale folk in their festive finery and Lauren Beard’s funny and characterful illustrations, Kittie’s hair-raising adventures are set to run and run.

(Picture Corgi, paperback, £6.99)

Age 7 plus:

The Jacqueline Wilson Christmas Cracker by Jacqueline Wilson and Nick Sharratt

Here’s the chance to enjoy Christmas in the company of brilliantly entertaining children’s author Jacqueline Wilson.

This year she has carefully and lovingly put together a classic Christmas Cracker, a bumper festive feast packed with brilliant stories, puzzles, jokes, things to do, recipes and oodles of fun facts.

There’s a super, brand-new tale from the master storyteller and a classic favourite starring Wilson’s most popular creation, the irrepressible Tracy Beaker, who lands the lead part in her Christmas play and produces a performance guaranteed to make youngsters laugh out loud.

And to add to the box of delights there are some tasty Christmas recipes to make at home, helpful present tips, fun festive facts and a sprinkling of Nick Sharratt’s hilarious illustrations.

A stocking filler made in present heaven…

(Corgi, paperback, £6.99)