Toy guide 2017 – and the best children’s books to go with them

Published on: 29 November 2017 Author: Anna McKerrow

Here's a round up of books your child will love in the present pile, based on the toys that they're begging you for this Christmas.

Christmas presents

Is your child obsessed with some of the big toy brands around at the moment? Are they feverishly awaiting whatever new kitten-megastructure-electro-light-up-gravity-defying-plush-doll is the latest in the range?

If the answer to this is YES, here are our book recommendations for the stories they might not have found yet – but the ones that they're bound to love.

Star Wars

Suggestions for Star Wars fans

Watching the newest Star Wars release is becoming a bit of a Christmas tradition. With the release of The Last Jedi on 15 December, plus the past few years' reboots of popular franchises, such as Star Trek, sci-fi is on a roll.

You could treat the teen in your life to Eugene Lambert's The Sign of One, a Star Wars-meets-Firefly-meets-The-Hunger-Games epic space adventure with strong boy and girl characters.

Alternatively, for confident upper primary or lower secondary age readers, check out Philip Reeve's Mortal Engines series, ahead of the film being released in 2018.

Children's Laureate Chris Riddell's Alienography: Tips for Tiny Tyrants is a phantasmagoria of illustrated aliens, pull-out card games, flaps and other fun for ages 5-8.

Lastly, Chris Riddell and Martin Stewart's Scavenger series are heavily illustrated novels packed full of adventure, space tech and friendship for 8-12s.

Minecraft

Suggestions for Minecraft fans

The official Minecraft books from Egmont and Mojang are a must for the Ender-and-mob-obsessed child, but a new unofficial fan fiction series by Jim Anotsu from Puffin, starting with The Sword of Herobrine, is also ideal for mid-to-older primary age readers and up.

Minecraft fans might also like Lucy Coats's Beast of Olympus series for its monster-filled fun, or a graphic novel with a mythical theme for younger readers, such as Arthur and The Golden Rope by Joe Todd-Stanton.

Peppa Pig

Suggestions for Peppa Pig fans

Fans of TV's best known pig and her dulcet-toned family will love any of Mick Inkpen's classic Wibbly Pig series or, from The Gruffalo's Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler, Hide and Seek Pig is ideal for two- to three-year-olds.

Alternatively, for four- to six-year-olds, there's the slightly more anarchic The True Story of The Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith, or Claudia Boldt's beautifully illustrated tale of a rather abrasive piggy, You're a Rude Pig Bertie.

Transformers

Suggestions for Transformers fans

For the robot- or car-obsessed toddler or young child in your life, what better to read than one of Susan Steggall's On The Road?

Slightly older children will enjoy Gareth P Jones's Adventures of the Steampunk Pirates: Attack of the Rival Robots, and Neill Cameron's colourful and dynamic graphic novel Mega Robo Bros

Pie Face

As if Pie Face wasn’t enough, now there’s a full-length standing-up version of the pie-in-the-face game for all kids that love a bit of slapstick.

For kids that are into fashion and witches, the Witch Wars series by Sibeal Pounder is a definite must: it’s got all the silliness that an eight- to ten-year-old could wish for.

Alternatively, Dave Shelton’s Good Dog, Bad Dog: Double Identity includes plenty of funny unfortunateness in a brilliant comic book format for childred aged seven to ten.

For younger ones, why not try the delightfully silly picture book, Almost Everybody Farts?

Robots

This Christmas, there are a raft of robotic tech toys for kids to choose from – the Fisher-Price Teach n Talk Movi, the Cozmo Robot, LEGO Boost (which enables you to build and then code a robot figure using an app) and many more. If you want to make sure that the kids don’t go the way of SkyNet, some robot-themed books might be in order.

There’s plenty to choose from, with Greta Zargo and the Death Robots from Outer Space providing some Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy humour for the current generation of 9-12s, or Neill Cameron’s Mega Robo Bros, a page-turning graphic novel robot romp for 7-10s.

There’s also previous Children’s Laureate Malorie Blackman’s brilliant Robot Girl, which will satisfy tech-hungry 9-12s, and for little ones, there’s Sue Hendra’s brilliant No-Bot, the Robot With No Bottom.

Superheroes

Suggestions for superhero fans

There are, of course, lots of official superhero books by Marvel, DC Comics and the like – Daredevil, Spider-Man and Ms Marvel would be good places to start for readers aged 10+.

But if you're looking for something different, why not try Tamsin and the Deep by Neill Cameron and Kate Brown (especially if you're looking for something with a female main character), any of the Hilda books by Luke Pearson, or the award-winning My Brother is a Superhero by David Solomons?

For teens, Stefan Mohamed's funny, exciting and razor-sharp Bitter Sixteen and Ace of Spiders about Welsh superhero Stanly and his talking beagle is an absolute must.

Sylvanian Families

Suggestions for Sylvanian Families fans

If animals and families – and animal families – are a key requirement for your Christmas shopping this year, look out for Sammy The Shy Kitten, an ideal animal book for 5-7s by Holly Webb.

For a slightly more fantastical yet still gloriously animal-focused story for 10-12s, Podkin One Ear by Kieran Larwood is a brilliant mix of Watership Down and The Hobbit, with all the feel of a modern classic.

For younger readers, The Beginner's Guide to Bear Spotting by Michelle Robinson and illustrated by David Roberts is hugely enjoyable, or Dorothee de Montfried's A Day With Dogs is a riot of cartoonish fun, featuring dogs going to birthday parties, the doctor's, school and other relatable childhood things.

Toy pets

FurReal Roarin' Tyler the Playful Tiger, Little Live Pets… The trend for moving, noisy robotic furry things is here. For kids that go 'awwww!' every time an animatronic cat comes on the TV, you could think about Komako Sakai Lee’s The Lost Kitten, a beautiful, cuddly story about caring for animals and each other.  

Of course, there’s also the eternal classic Mog’s Christmas for any 3-6s that haven’t yet met the best cat in the world.

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