Christmas Gift Guide: What To Buy For Hard-To-Buy-For Children and Teenagers
For a voracious reader who ploughs through everything…
Egg and Spoon by Gregory Maguire ($24.95): A rich and layered fantasy set in Tsarist Russia. Told with wry humour, this is the story of a girl from the impoverished countryside who accidentally swaps places with the daughter of a wealthy noble family.
Song For a Scarlet Runner by Julie Hunt ($15.99): The winner of the Reading Children’s Book Prize takes place in a totally absorbing fantasy landscape and follows the adventures of a brave but humble girl who is on the run because her village believes she is cursed.
Vango (available in paperback at $16.95) and the sequel A Prince Without Kingdom (available in hardback at $24.95) by Timothee De Fombelle: The first book was a go-to for our children’s specialists last year and book two is now available. This is a big, bold story that follows a boy travelling by Zeppelin across Europe, meeting arms traffickers, crooked policemen, Russian spies and even Stalin. The author puts an entirely new perspective on a familiar period of history.
For a child who gobbles up facts for breakfast…
Full Speed Ahead: How Fast Things Go by Cruschiform ($24.99): Compares the speeds of animals, transport and forces of nature in graphic ‘races’. Visually-striking with stylish vintage-style illustrations.
Dr Karl’s Even Bigger Book of Science Stuff (and Nonsense) by Karl Kruszelnicki ($18.99): Australia’s science guru Dr Karl with his second inspiring book for budding Einsteins.
True or False by Dorling Kindersley ($24.99): Packed full of amazing facts and illustrated with photographs and graphics, this is a great book for kids to dip in and out of.
For a wonderfully quirky original…
Phoebe and Her Unicorn by Dana T. C. Simpson ($14.95): A geeky daydreamer is granted a wish, and she wishes for a unicorn: behold ‘Marigold Heavenly Nostrils’, who turns out to be a challenging companion, in this hilarious graphic novel.
How Watson Learned the Trick by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle ($29.95): A recreation of the miniature, cloth-bound Sherlock Holmes story that Arthur Conan Doyle wrote especially for from the library of Queen Mary’s famous Dolls’ House, on display at Windsor Castle, in 1922.
The Memory of an Elephant by Sophie Strady and Jean-Francois Martin ($27.95): The story of an elephant’s long and varied life becomes part picture book, part whimsical encyclopedia. Glorious visuals and all manner of curiosities from ‘the first iMac’ to ‘jelly shoes’, this is well worth a look.
A-Z of Convicts in Van Dieman’s Land by Simon Barnard ($45.00): A focussed and compelling nugget of history, told in great detail and fully illustrated: the lives of the men, women and children who were transported to Tasmania for crimes ranging from stealing bread to poisoning family members. Their sentences, punishments, achievements and suffering.
For a child who would rather be reading instructions…
Excavate! Dinosaurs: Paper Toy Palaeontology by Jonathan Tennant and Vladimir Nikolov ($24.99): Paleontologist Jonathan Tennant explains the anatomy and habits of 12 dinosaurs from the Cretaceous, Jurassic, and Triassic eras. Pop-out pieces of their skeletons can be assembled into stand-up paper models but to make it more interesting all the pieces are mixed up, providing a great challenge for dinosaur fans.
Mini Pom Pom Pets by April Chorba ($24.99): This seriously cute kit from Klutz comes with everything they need to make 20 adorable pom poms.
The Giant Game of Sculpture by Herve Tullet ($39.95): Here’s an instruction-free book for those younger creative kids. Pop out the pieces of card and, using the various slots and holes, make an original work of art. Encourages experimentation and creativity.
One book to be shared between two…
Seen and Not Heard by Katie May Green ($24.95): The children in the portraits of an old-fashioned nursery may look like sweet innocent things, but when night falls they climb out of the picture frames and run riot! This is really good fun and the illustrations are spot on for theme and atmosphere.
Tim and Ed by Ursula Dubosarsky and Andrew Joyner ($24.99): An adorable story about twin koalas who are the same in every way and of how they cope when they have to spend a night apart.
Pig the Pug ($16.99) or The Brother’s Quibble by Aaron Blabey ($24.99): All of Blabey’s stories are darkly funny. These two are both told in bold rhyme and they really work. Pig the Pug is a great one about sharing, while The Brother’s Quibble tells the true story of sibling rivalry (mild violence and all!) but still manages to bring it back to the love. Fabulously saccharine-free.
A young child you don’t know very well…
Mr Chicken Lands on London by Leigh Hobbs ($24.99): If they haven’t met him yet children will love Mr Chicken and his delightful grumpiness.
Hug Machine by Scott Campbell ($19.99): This irresistible picture book is sweet, funny and utterly charming.
The Book with No Pictures by B. J. Novak ($19.99): This picture book without any pictures is a real crowd-pleaser and is a great one for reading aloud.
How To Be a Spy by Dan Waddell and Nikalas Catlow ($27.95): This is a really fun and interactive guide with a bit more to it. Readers follow the adventures of Agent X and unravel the information they need to foil an evil plot.
An older child or teen you don’t know very well…
The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman and Chris Riddell ($19.99): Neil Gaiman puts a unique spin on this mash-up of two well-known fairytales, but what sets this apart as a truly stunning gift is Chris Riddell’s intricate art, like a modern-day Arthur Rackham.
365 Days of Wonder by R.J. Palacio ($19.99): Wonder is a bestselling children’s book – also loved by teens and adults – about a boy with a severe facial deformity and of his experiences starting middle school. This spin-off is a collection of inspiring quotes from famous authors and from inside the novel itself.
The Rookie Yearbook Three by Tavi Gevinson ($32.99): A compendium curated by Wunderkind Tavi Gevinson, full of beautiful art and writing that is such a breath of fresh air for young women.
The Third Chimpanzee by Jared Diamond and Rebecca Stefoff ($19.99): Jared Diamond explores what makes us human in a new, illustrated edition.
The Henry Lawson Treasury ($19.99) or The Banjo Paterson Treasury ($19.95): Classic Australian verse and stories in these elegant editions with artwork by the brilliant cartoonist and illustrator Oslo Davis.