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Recent children’s books

Recent children’s books

3 December 2005

12:00 AM

3 December 2005

12:00 AM

The bookshop shelves are stacked with the usual bewildering array of children’s books this Christmas, and the first striking fact is what good value they have become, largely because, like almost everything else, most of them are now produced in the Far East, from Thailand to Cochin. The average price of a lavishly illustrated book for young children, £10.99, has remained the same for several years, and even elaborate pop-ups, like Francesca Crespi’s The Nativity, published by Frances Lincoln and printed in China, only costs £12.99. It was good to see a version of one of Arthur Ransome’s Old Peter’s Russian Tales being reprinted in a lively version for young children. Little Daughter of the Snow is retold by Shena Guild and illustrated by Tom Bower (Frances Lincoln, £10.99). A childless old couple make themselves a little daughter out of snow. At first she delights everyone as she plays and dances with the other children, sustained by a diet of ice porridge, then spring comes, with sadly predictable results. All that is left is ‘a pool of water, a fur hat, a little coat and little red boots’. Also derived from a classic from the past is Fig’s Giant by Geraldine McCaughrean, illustrated by Jago (OUP, £12.99). This is the story of Gulliver seen through the eyes of the intrepid little — very little — Lilliputian girl, Fig. The text and pictures are lively and humorous and would appeal to readers of 4-6. Another amusing book for children of this age is Baby Brains Superstar, written and illustrated by Simon James (Walker Books, £10.99). ‘Before Baby Brains was born, Mrs Brains played classical music on headphones to the baby inside her tummy’; this results in a musical prodigy, who has mastered every instrument while still in nappies. His career culminates at a live rock concert, where he inadvertently composes and performs the world-wide hit ‘I want my Mummy!’

Loch Ness Ghosts (translated by Antonia Perkin from Les Fant


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