They fit nicely into a stocking, are easy to wrap, provide hours of amusement and don’t require batteries. When you’re stuck for a Christmas present idea for kids, you can’t beat a great book – and with these choices for children of all ages (and all reading abilities) right up to teens, there really is something for everyone.
THE CHRISTMAS STAR BY EVA IBBOTSON
Three wonderfully atmospheric short stories that capture the spirit of the season by the much-missed children’s author Eva Ibbotson. Set in Vienna (where the author herself was born and brought up before her family fled to England as the Nazis came to power), these short tales cover a whole range of different Christmas experiences, from the loss of innocence and transition to adulthood in Vicky and the Christmas Angel to family upheaval after a visit to a fortune teller at a Christmas market in The Christmas Star, and finally the challenge posed by a father’s amusing efforts to despatch a monster carp for the traditional Viennese family supper on Christmas Eve. Old-fashioned? For sure. But aren’t the Christmas traditions we cherish the most the ones that date back over generations? And don’t they remind us that even modern Christmas celebrations are meaningless without the evocative little rituals that remind us of our own childhood. Macmillan, age: 12+
FIRE COLOUR ONE BY JENNY VALENTINE
It’s been too long since Jenny Valentine’s last novel for young adults, but she’s back and this quirky and provocative novel reminds us how much she’s been missed. Fire Colour One tells the story of Iris, a troubled teen estranged from her father Ernest and living in LA with her alcoholic mother Hannah. When Hannah gets wind of the fact that Ernest is in the final stages of a terminal illness, she whisks her daughter across the Atlantic in a crude and desperate attempt to get her hands on her daughter’s (potential) inheritance. Damaged Iris is an acerbic and intuitive character whose pyromaniacal tendencies lend a wayward unpredictability to the story. As Iris gets to know the father she has never had, some intriguing family secrets are uncovered – with lasting consequences. Witty, wise and at times, deliciously dark and spiky. HarperCollins, age: 12+