The best new children’s books to buy for Christmas 2021

The classics always make popular Christmas gifts – and there’s no rest for Winnie-the-Pooh this year, who stars in a new spinoff tale. Jane Riordan’s Once There Was a Bear (Farshore, £ 14.99) is the prequel to the original AA Milne stories, taking us back to the time when Pooh was bought for baby Christopher Robin. (“Once upon a time there was a bear sitting on a shelf in a very large store called Harrods.”) Milne scholars may choke on their honey, but Riordan’s version, illustrated by Mark Burgess, has enough charm to get the ringtone crates.

The secret garden (Nosy Crow, £ 14.99) has also had a facelift. “Mary Lennox was born under a jewel-colored sky in a dusty land of gold,” begins the edition of Geraldine McCaughrean’s picture book, which bottles Frances Hodgson Burnett’s 96-page novel, galloping through it all. key narrative events.

And for older readers, in The Primrose Railway Children (Puffin, £ 12.99), Jacqueline Wilson reinvents the E Nesbit classic through a new set of kids – Phoebe, Perry and Becks – who move to the countryside when their father mysteriously disappears. There is a lot of drama and a heavy dose of Wilsonian reality. The author has abandoned the magical element of the original: in its “modern” version, she explains, there are no “easy solutions”.

Little Bear by Richard Jones (Simon & Schuster, £ 12.99) is the enchanting story of a boy who finds a little polar bear deep in his garden. As their bond grows, so does the bear, until the boy accepts that it is time for his friend to return home. For very young readers more interested in touch than in the dramatic arc, My Magic Santa (Campbell, £ 6.99) is a cheerfully festive hardback, with push and pull mechanisms to keep little paws busy. (“On a magical sleigh with its presents stacked, / Santa Claus left as the elves waved goodbye to him.”)

For children aged seven and over, Three little vikings by Bethan Woollvin (Two Hoots, £ 12.99) is the triumphant story of three young Viking girls, who must save their village when their chief refuses to listen: “‘Chief,’ Helga said, ‘there is something scary outside! ‘ ‘Absurdity!’ replied the chief, “I know it’s only a thunderstorm … and I know the best!” Polly Pecorino: the girl who saves animals (Walker, £ 10.99), a debut novel by illustrator Emma Chichester Clark, a young girl determined to save a cub stolen by ruthless zookeepers. It’s a fast-paced story, told with the quiet charm of Chichester Clark’s picture books.

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