Christmas treats for the littlies

December 21, 2013
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It will probably come as no surprise to learn that way back in the mists of time, when I was a young’un, I was a bit of a bookworm.

I had an extensive collection of hard-cover Little Golden Books (including the classic Poky Little Puppy) that filled my own bookshelf and took over most of the family bookshelf to boot.

Like many people, I’ve gone through most of my adult life believing the books of my childhood were the best books for children. Ever.

However, during the past little while, books like the Wonky Donkey have forced a rethink: today’s children have got it pretty good.

If you still have a little person to buy for this Christmas, there are some not-so-new releases that are still worth a look.

All I Want for Christmas is my Two Front Teeth, by Don Gardner, illustrated by Katz Cowley with free CD performed by Craig Smith (Scholastic, RRP $26):

Take a well-loved children’s song about missing chompers and Christmas wishes, add in the creative team behind the aforementioned Wonky Donkey and you have this fun little Christmas read that will be a hit with the younger readers, most likely in the 4-10 age bracket. It also appeals to book reviewers in a somewhat older group.

The song is cute, the illustrations of a poor, wee toothless monkey are packed with colour and humour and after listening to it just once, Craig Smith’s rendition will be stuck in your brain. There’s even a bonus track (Toothless).

Baa Baa Smart Sheep and Two Little Bugs, both by Mark and Rowan Sommerset (Dreamboat Books, $30 each):

These great little books feature cutsie drawings that will capture your attention and stories that are so much fun you will fall in love with them as quickly as your children do.

In Baa Baa Smart Sheep, Baa Baa the bored sheep and Quirky Turkey. When the two meet up, mischief ensues and the result is a genuinely funny story that will keep mum and dad every bit as entertained as junior.

It is easy to see why this book took out the 2011 NZ Post Children’s Book Awards children’s choice section: it’s a fantastic, fun little read.

Husband-and-wife team Mark (writer) and Rowan (illustrator) Sommerset followed up Baa Baa Smart Sheep with another wee gem: Two Little Bugs.

Written in rhyme and with the same quirky touch to the illustrations as the earlier book, Two Little Bugs is another classic in the making.

Poo Bum, by Stephanie Blake (Gecko Press, RRP $35 in hardback, $20 in paperback)

At some point, all children pick up one or two grown-up words that aren’t appropriate for use in company and this story is all about a little bunny who adopted a particular turn of phrase that didn’t please his parents.

These two words were the only response he would offer to any question and that repeated catchcry is sure to have your own littlies giggling as you read them this story. But there is a lesson to be learnt by our little bunny friend when he meets up with hungry wolf.

This is sure to become a favourite with any child.

The Grumble Bee, by Kyle Mewburn, illustrated by Ingrid Berzins (Scholastic, RRP 19.50):

Millers Flat resident Kyle Mewburn has done it again, with another fun little book following in the footsteps of Kiss! Kiss! Yuck! Yuck!, and the 2010 NZ Post Children’s

Book of the Year, Old Hu-Hu.

I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as Old Hu-Hu, but I am a bit of a sucker for bugs and not such a fan of bees (they sting) so I may be a little biased. However, everyone loves the underdog, or underbee in this case, so this story of Glib the bee who saves the hive and the day should prove popular.

Jillian Allison-Aitken

I come from the other land down under, where men are men, and sheep are nervous. I'm a sub-editor and in the past have been a proof-reader, news editor and web editor. I am also an ex-columnist, and book and software reviewer for the local daily newspaper.I still read. A lot. And surf the web. Also a lot.You'll find a little about both of those pastimes here, and on By George.

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