If at all possible, I buy books for my kids to bring to birthday parties. I don’t know why really, there’s not a lot of pleasure in watching the recipient loudly announce “book!” in a flat voice and quickly pushing it aside to make space for the next gift; “Yay! Lego Star Wars!”
Another thing is that once wrapped, books can look so small - I mean we all want to be the mother of the child arriving with the big box, right? How I get around that is give the book in big paper bag with handles and sometimes (oh the shame of this!) only tear off half the price tag or “forget” to take the receipt out of the bag.
Anyway, if you do decide to take the Connect 4 or Guess Who? route for party gifts, most of the below are small enough to be rolled-up to fit into a Christmas stocking.
So, focusing this week on the seven to ten year olds, here are some nice presents they might not already have on the shelves in their classroom libraries.
For boys and girls beginning to read independently, Snipp, Snapp and Snurr and Flicka, Ricka and Dicka are something a bit different. They are both sets of Swedish triplets who embark on wholesome adventures in about thirty pages, all illustrated in colour. The books were created in the twenties, so the illustrations are vintagey and gorgeous. There are numerous books in both series.
For readers who have finished the many Horrid Henrys, meet little Tomi of 26 Fairmont Avenue . The opposite of Henry, Tomi is a nice little person, growing up in the forties in Connecticut. There are three books in the series. At about the same reading level are the two Parrot Park books, by Mary Murphy, the wonderful Irish writer on whose board books (I Like It When and How Kind!) my eldest son was raised.
One step up on the reading ladder, there is Emil. He isn’t like Henry either, being in possession of an abundance of intelligence, wit and curiosity. Living on a farm in Sweden, Emil is impossible to dislike and, as he was created by Astrid Lindgren, his adventures make a great read. He has three books to himself.
Tired of rereading the Wimpy Kid’s? Nicholas is funny too. He is the product of half of the Asterix team, Rene Goscinny(with illustrations by Jean -Jacques Sempe) and there are six in the series.
Slightly older boys and girls who have enjoyed Skulduggery Pleasant and Harry Potter should like Philip Pullmans triptych His Dark Materials. There are three to four hundred pages in each, so if that’s a bit daunting there is also Four Tales. The hardcover version of this is very special, the ideal present for a godchild.