Great reads for children this Christmas...
Everything you could possibly want to know and more about those swoon-inducing Twilight heartthrobs is contained in Evie Parker's new guide, The Twilight Boys (Bantam Books, Â£6.99).
The boast that it is “100 per cent unofficial” suggests a risqué-ness which simply isn’t there, but it’s bright and breezy as it subjects Messrs Pattinson, Lautner et al to such forensic, scientific probing as the “hot-o-meter” and endless “did you knows”.
It’s part of the massive Twilight bandwagon - and there’s no denying the fact: if you love the films, you’ll love the book.
Tintin, also right up there in the cinema focus at the moment, is also the subject of plenty of pre-Christmas tie-ins.
A picture-book easy-reader offers The Adventures Of Tintin: Danger At Sea, along with plenty of illustrations from the film, at £3.99 from Bantam Books, also the publishers behind The Adventures Of Tintin: The Sticker Book (also £3.99).
Complete with more than a hundred full-colour stickers, the book is nicely produced and certain to please.
Rather more traditional pleasures come from the attractively-presented hardback version of Dick King-Smith’s Animal Tales (Doubleday, £9.99), a genuine delight packed full of imagination and lots of furry things - classic writing from an author who knows how to enchant.
This Dark Endeavour offers darker delights for the older reader, The Apprenticeship Of Victor Frankenstein as told by Kenneth Oppel (David Fickling Books, £12.99).
Oppel has brought to life a prequel to the legendary horror. 16-year-old Victor Frankenstein begins a dark journey that will change his life forever. Victor’s twin brother Konrad has fallen ill and no doctor is able to cure him.
Unwilling to give up on his brother, Victor enlists his beautiful cousin Elizabeth and best friend Henry on a treacherous search for the ingredients to create the forbidden Elixir of Life - a premise which delivers exactly what you’d expect: a cracking read.
The characters leap off the page and you’re with them at every twist and turn as science turns to the dark side in a way which cleverly foreshadows Frankenstein’s rather better known later-life adventures. Too many prequels fall flat. This one doesn’t.
For the tinies this month, Doubleday offers Big Book Of My World (£9.99), a bright and bold foray into numbers, shape-matching, animal sounds, colours etc, cleverly thought out to offer the fundamentals of learning dressed up as fun.
Sapphire Battersea, the new Jacqueline Wilson, is in hardback at £12.99 (Doubleday Childrens).
Hetty Feather is a Foundling Hospital girl and was given her name when she was left there as a baby by her mother. But she always longed to be called Sapphire, after her sapphire-blue eyes. When she is reunited with her mother, she hopes her new name, Sapphire Battersea, will also mean a new life. But life doesn’t always go as planned...
Follow the twists and turns of Hetty’s adventure as she goes out to work as a maid for a wealthy man. She longs to be reunited with her childhood sweetheart Jem - but also finds a new sweetheart, Bertie the butcher’s boy, who whisks her away from her household chores to experience the delights of the funfair.
As ever with Wilson, it’s a story beautifully told, lively, well paced and nicely written, sparkling with life and certain to enthral.
Meanwhile, the Astrostaurs saga - that strange notion of dinosaurs in space - continues to roll, this time with Earth Attack (Red Fox, £6.99), a special super-long thriller involving a stolen time machine and a terrifying plot to murder millions. Good fun, as ever, but as ever, there’s something that goes against the grain with a book which invites you to cut things out - in this instance, the collectable Astrosaurs cards.
Call me old-fashioned, but books and scissors should never go together.
Finally a couple of Christmas titles, Nicholas Allan’s Jesus’ Christmas Party (Red Fox, £5.99) and Mouse’s Christmas Wish by Judi Abbot (Picture Corgi, £5.99) - both fun, both classy, both classic and just right to help in that great count-down until you know who clatters down the chimney.