11 November 2016 | Children's Fiction, Picture Books

Christmas shopping – picture books

Yes, it’s only November but we need to think about buying books for Christmas! I have a series of posts planned for you which I hope will make your Christmas shopping easier. Each Friday for the next four weeks I’ll provide a list of books which I love, and I hope you do, too. You can also look at my posts from last year – book series for kids, stand-alone titles for kidspicture books and Christmas books.

Even if your children, nieces, nephews or grandchildren aren’t strong readers, a book is a beautiful gift – and one that will last beyond the plastic stuff. Besides, they’ll need a break from the water pistols and technology gadgets over six or eight weeks of holidays!

Here’s some of my favourite picture books to put in a Christmas stocking for this year.

I haven’t included the usual favourites for really little ones – Mem Fox, Pamela Allen, Rod Campbell, Julia Donaldson, Martin Waddell – all these writers have beautiful board books for babies and small ones who like to chew on books or rip the pages.


  • This girl, that girl written and illustrated by Charlotte Lance – gorgeous watercolour illustrations show the difference between ‘this girl’ and ‘that girl’. Here’s a case of less is more when it comes to words – the pictures say everything, sometimes even the opposite of what the words mean. It’s a lovely book about fathers and daughters and their differences. It’s simple and funny enough for four-year-olds but would work wonders in a grade 1 classroom, too.


  • The paper dolls, written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Rebecca Cobb – I dare you to read this and NOT make a chain of paper dolls! This is a sweet story about a girl whose mother helps her make a chain of paper dolls who have all sorts of adventures. This girl grows up into a mother herself and helps her daughter make a set of paper dolls. Perfect for 4-6 year-olds.


  • The hero of Little Street, illustrated by Gregory Rogers – this is a picture book with no words. The story is told in comic book style but without the speech bubbles. A lovely, funny book about a boy who accidentally seems to get into trouble and accidentally ends up in one of Vemeer’s paintings. It would be a fabulous way to encourage reluctant readers to enjoy books – without technically reading! But of course, the story is told through the illustrations.


  • A bus called Heaven, written and illustrated by Bob Graham – this story is all about community spirit. It’s a lovely story about a quiet girl who stands up for something she believes in. Bob Graham creates stories which show characters at their best – you would want your kids to be surrounded by these characters.


  • The fantastic flying books of Mr Morris Lessmore, written by William Joyce, illustrated by William Joyce and Joe Bluhm – this is a really special book – I think I’d like to live in it, especially the library with flying books. It tells the story of Morris Lessmore, who writes his hopes and dreams in a book and loves reading. This book shows books as living things which engage with readers. It’s also a lovely short film – you can watch it here – Miss 10 and I thought it was wonderful.


  • Tiger can’t sleep, written by S. J. Fore and illustrated by R. W. Alley – this is one of my favourite read-aloud books ever. The little boy in the story wants to go to sleep but he can’t – because there’s a tiger in the closet making all sorts of strange noises. It’s hilarious because the tiger takes the part of a child, and the child in the story reacts like an adult. I have read this to my three kids over and over again, and to many other kids as well because it’s just so funny.  I would rescue this book from a fire! Wonderful for 3-7 year-olds.


  • Cloth lullaby, the woven life of Louise Bourgeois, written by Amy Novesky and illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault – this is a lush, gorgeously written and illustrated book for a discerning reader, 6-9 years. It’s long for a picture book, and it’s a quiet, slow read, so it may not suit all kids. The illustrations are fit to be framed – watercolours in a palette of red, pink, blue and black. The story is based on Louise Bourgeois’ life in Paris, where her mother taught her to mend exquisite tapestries and sew. When she was a student, her mother died and Louise turned to painting and weaving to preserve her memories of her mother. The writing is as beautiful as the illustrations, so it has the feel of a keepsake book to be treasured.


  • Llama, llama red pyjama, written and illustrated by Anna Dewdney – this is a funny book for kinder kids. Little llama is tucked up in bed but feels lonely without his Mama. His mama says she’ll be in his room soon, but soon takes ‘forever’ for this llama. A funny but truthful bedtime story for little ones.


  • Alphabeasties and other amazing types, created by Sharon Werner and Sarah Forss – this would be a fabulous present for a kid about to start school. It’s an alphabet book. Every page covers a different letter with an animal created with different letter fonts. There are also flaps which are always a winner, plus little tips about how different letters are created. Barely any writing – lots of letters and pictures.


  • A child of books, written by Oliver Jeffers and illustrated by Sam Winston – just so you know – this book was written for me. I mean, I’ve never met Oliver Jeffers or even connected with him through social media but he wrote this book for me. Truly. Here are the first lines – ‘I am a child of books. I come from a world of stories and upon my imagination I float.’ See, that was  written for me! The illustrations are a mix of black pen outlines, photographs of books and lines of text from stories. This is a book which should be in every school’s library.

I hope you find some new reads in this list. I’d be really grateful if you could forward on my blog details through your email to friends and family who may appreciate some book ideas for Christmas. Thank you – happy reading!

Author interview – Victoria Carless



Thank you.💋 Karen. Looking forward to the coming weeks. I think I know what we’re getting our grandchildren for Christmas.

November 11, 2016 at 6:58 am

Terri Dixon

Thanks for the timely reminder that Christmas is coming……….quickly.

I loved your list, I knew most of the titles but will check out the ones I am not familiar with.

Looking forward to the coming weeks as most of my grandchildren are in the older age bracket.


November 11, 2016 at 7:17 am

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