Books: Children's books

It's probably too late now to get hold of a Teletubby in anything other than book form - astonishingly there are still plenty of copies of Laa-Laa's Ball and The Flying Toast (BBC, pounds 2.50 each) around, as well as the Teletubbies Annual 1998 (BBC, pounds 5.50). Two year-olds are addicted to these fat, furry aliens and their horribly jaundiced baby companion in the same way that they were once addicted to Postman Pat and his black and white cat - for hopelessly passe kids, Collins have produced A Special Delivery From Postman Pat by John Cunliffe incorporating three new adventures in a single package (pounds 9.99). The drawback to giving any of these books is that you will be required to read them out loud at some point; discerning adults (or at least those who wish to remain calm over the Christmas hols) should search out a copy of The Night Before Christmas by Clement C Moore instead (a new edition of this classic poem, magically illustrated by Christian Birmingham, is published by Collins, pounds 12.99). Children of all ages are entranced by this tale. Persuade them to read it turn and turn about on Christmas Eve, and they will revel in the growing sense of suspense and the old-fashioned world of firelight, snowy moonlit nights, stockings hung up and the distant sound of sleighbells it conjures up.

Plain, ordinary books are quite hard to find at this time of year as publishers, convinced that punters will only buy a book for Christmas if they can be fooled into thinking it's something else, are cunningly sending out their wares under heavy disguise. The Illustrated Explorer Book of Castles (Portico pounds 14.95) is a case in point. A vast box-like affair, it contains a fold-out castle, a working seige catapult, a brass-rubbing kit and an army of model soldiers. Small boys will love it - for five minutes. They'll probably have more fun with Secret Codes by Robert Jackson (Apple, pounds 14.99) which comes with the seductive warning that it "should not be used by children under eight years without adult supervision". Jackson's straightforward text teaches you how to decipher secret codes and send your own with the help of a brace of Jefferson wheels, semaphore flags and electronic morse code units. An innovative take on the art book is contained in Drawn and Quartered (Thames & Hudson, pounds 7.95) which allows you to flip and mix 22 images of the human figure to produce extraordinary artistic results. It would make a handy companion to Dulwich Art Gallery's excellent, lavishly illustrated The Children's Art Book (pounds 9.95) which has just won the Gulbenkian Award for Best Museum Publication - "like a top-quality gallery education workshop" according to the judges.

I'd bypass the books in boxes and go for something old-fashioned like Macmillan's Proverbs From Far and Wide illustrated by Axel Scheffler (pounds 9.99) ("To succeed, consult three old people"), a compact, thought-provoking collection of eccentric international wisdom designed to appeal to 10- year-olds upwards, or The Roald Dahl Treasury (Cape, pounds 19.99), a 400-page illustrated anthology of his bestselling stories - a huge treat for all six to 10 year-olds. Walker Books' series of Treasures is a collection of beautifully bound and illustrated, stocking-sized classics, including The Canterville Ghost by Oscar Wilde and Eleanor Farjeon's fairy story, Elsie Piddock Skips in Her Sleep (pounds 7.99 each). Smarties Award winner, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (Bloomsbury, pounds 4.99) by J K Rowling has been an object of great fascination to the media but don't be put off by that; I've yet to meet a 10 year old who hasn't been entranced by its witty, complex plot and the character of the eponymous Harry. Forty years after it first appeared, Dr Seuss's The Cat in the Hat is as seductively barmy as ever. Children love its mad rhymes ("I know it's wet/And the sun is not sunny/But we can have/Lots of good fun that is funny") and riotous red and blue illustrations. Collins have produced an anniversary edition at pounds 12.99.

These are the books that your pre-teen offspring will be fondly remembering over dinner parties 10 years hence - or so you can tell them. In the meantime, you can keep the peace by filling their stockings with telly spin-offs: The Best of Friends (Boxtree, pounds 3.99), Among Friends, a book of postcards (Boxtree, pounds 4.99) and the Spice Girls in Miniature (Zone Productions, pounds 2.99 each), five little books that will tell you a great deal about Sporty, Ginger, Posh, Baby and Scary Spice but not a lot about the band's supposed bust- up and the sacking of their manager - for that you'll have to read a tabloid newspaper...

News
Russell Brand was in typically combative form during his promotional interview with Newsnight's Evan Davis
peopleReports that Brand could stand for Mayor on an 'anti-politics' ticket
News
The clocks go forward an hour at 1am on Sunday 30 March
news
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor finds himself in a forest version of London in Doctor Who episode 'In the Forest of the Night'
TVReview: Is the Doctor ever going stop frowning? Apparently not.
News
Voluminous silk drawers were worn by Queen Victoria
newsThe silk underwear is part of a growing trade in celebrity smalls
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Sport
footballMatch report: Real fight back to ruin Argentinian's debut
News
Candidates with surnames that start with an A have an electoral advantage
newsVoters are biased towards names with letters near start of alphabet
Arts and Entertainment
Isis with Lord Grantham (Hugh Bonneville)
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jay James
TVReview: Performances were stale and cheesier than a chunk of Blue Stilton left out for a month
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Maths Teacher

    £110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...

    Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

    £40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

    ***ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent***

    £30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

    ***Solutions Architect*** - Brighton - £40k - Permanent

    £35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

    Day In a Page

    Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

    Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

    Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
    Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

    Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

    The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
    New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

    New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

    Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
    Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

    Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

    The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
    DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

    Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

    Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
    The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

    Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

    The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
    Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

    Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

    The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
    11 best sonic skincare brushes

    11 best sonic skincare brushes

    Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
    Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

    Paul Scholes column

    I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
    Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

    Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

    While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
    Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

    Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

    Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

    A crime that reveals London's dark heart

    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?