Friday, 18 December 2009

It's CHRRRRISTMAAAAAAAAASSSS! #1 Grumpy Badger's Christmas

Christmas is coming and everyone is so excited - except for Grumpy Badger. "PIFFLE!" he shouts. "I am going to sleep until the spring, and if anyone wakes me I shall be VERY grumpy!" But then Grumpy Badger has three visitors . . . and there is a great crisis. Will he learn the error of his ways before it's too late?

This is a brilliant new take on the Dickens classic A Christmas Carol. You know how it goes, a disgruntled old loner is taught the value of friendship and generosity, through the medium of Christmas. Lovely stuff!

Tell me your favourite thing about Christmas to win a copy!

Thursday, 17 December 2009

T'was the night before Christmas . . . #2 Santa's Noisy Night

It's Christmas Eve, and Santa's favourite time of year. "Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way!" he sings noisily. Will Santa's high spirits waken the children?

This is a spectacular pop-up edition of one of our most popular Christmas stories. With durable pop-up pages suitable for inquisitive young readers, this comic story is perfect for sharing at Christmas time.

To win a copy, tell me what treats you will be leaving out for Santa and his reindeer on Christmas Eve!

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

On the third day of Christmas, Bertie gave to me - three green bogieeeees! #3 Dirty Bertie: Crackers!

Meet Dirty Bertie - a boy with nose-pickingly DISGUSTING HABITS! He's full to bursting with madcap plans and crazy ideas, and if it's TROUBLE you're after, look no further - Bertie's sure to be up to his neck in it!

This three-in-one collection of hilarious Dirty Bertie Christmas stories – “Baa!”, “Elf!” and “Crackers!” – recreates all the magic and mayhem of a family Christmas through the eyes of our favourite trouble magnet.  It includes Bertie enlisting his dog, Whiffer, for a starring role in the school nativity; an ill-fated stint as Santa's little helper and bespoke Christmas crackers, Bertie-style (think a set of dracula teeth, rather than a travel sewing kit.) David Roberts’s brilliantly observed illustrations and Alan MacDonald’s razor-sharp writing make these stories a cut above the rest. 

I love everything about Bertie, he is just hilarious and actually rather endearing for such a scruffy little scamp. There should be one of these in every Christmas stocking!

To win a copy I'd like to be regaled with an amusing, festive, family anecdote.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

May all your christmases be white . . . #4 One Snowy Night

One snowy Christmas, a cold little hedgehog wakes from his winter sleep to find a present from Father Christmas. It's a snug woolly red hat - just what he needs. But when Little Hedgehog tries to wear the hat his prickles get in the way and it won't fit. Then Little Hedgehog has a wonderful idea . . .

Little Hedgehog is one of our most enduring characters. Each of his adventures has something of a meteorological theme, and in this particular story it is a snowstorm which threatens to get the better of the small spiky one. But what is a little dose of extreme weather conditions when you've got good friends looking out for you? This lovely, wintry tale touches gently on themes of friendship, generosity and sharing - all important at this special time of year! Also, if that's not enough for you, Little Hedgehog's hat is touch-and-feel on every page - lovely and soft for little fingers.

To win this book I'd like you to tell me the best Christmas present you've ever been given.

Monday, 14 December 2009

Every little girl's Christmas dream come true . . . #5 Lost in the Snow

Fluff is desperate to have a home of her own like her brothers and sisters - but no one seems to want her . . .

Then Ella turns up at the farm. She falls in love with Fluff straight away and pleads with her mother to let her have Fluff, but her mother is firm - they don't want a cat.

Fluff and Ella are heartbroken . . . and Fluff is terrified. What happens to kittens that nobody wants?

I have a confession - I'm not really such a fan of cats. I seem to be in the minority, all my friends love them. I can get on board with a cat as an individual, dependent on their personality. As a child my next door neighbours had seven cats. I liked one of them, two at a push. Catherine Rayner has a brilliant cat, but that's really because she's more like a dog. Dogs on the other hand, I love. Pretty much every one I meet.

Despite this fact, I'd have to be made of stone to not find Fluff, the intrepid little star of Lost in the Snow, adorable. Unlike me, most little girls are obsessed with the idea of having their own little kitten to love, and they go completely nuts for Holly Webb's books. I get by far the most fan mail for Holly, several letters every week. In fact, I just opened three this morning! Every time we publish Holly's latest book, we cross our fingers that it will do as well as the one before, you can't take anything for granted in this business, and lo and behold we seem to have another hit on our hands. Lost in the Snow was where it all began, and remains one of our biggest sellers at Christmas.

To get your hands on a copy I'd like you to tell me about your first pet. My favourite gets the book!

Friday, 11 December 2009

You better not pout, I'm telling you why . . . #6 I've Seen Santa!

It's Christmas Eve and Little Bear can't wait for Santa to deliver his presents. "Santa will come just as soon as you go to sleep," Mummy Bear says. But Little Bear doesn't want to go to sleep. He wants to see Santa. Suddenly . . . glug, glug, glug! What's that noise? Someone is downstairs! Will Little Bear really get to see Santa . . . ?

I'm being extra generous to you with this one and offering one of our book & CD sets. You probably didn't know this, but we were the first people to put the CD actually inside the back of the book, rather than putting it in one of those plastic packs. Much neater to display in bookshops and better for the environment, so a winner all round! This one's read by Lesley Sharp and Jason Isaacs (yes, him out of Harry Potter, but this is his cuddly side.) and they do a great job of this lovely cosy Christmas story.

To win this book I want to hear about a time when you've seen/heard evidence of Santa's visit.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Let them wear pink!

I like pink. There, I've said it. I had no idea this would be such a shameful confession, but apparently this makes me:
* a gender stereotype
* likely to suffer from low self-esteem
* unlikely to aspire to a challenging career
What nonsense!

A campaign group are mounting an offensive against the colour pink and the products they feel are enforcing gender stereotyping amongst children.

As publishers, we are regularly discouraged from giving books a pink cover as it halves our market. This doesn't work both ways. Girls will read books aimed at boys, but boys won't touch a book with a bit of pink on the cover. If a book is very specifically aimed at girls and we go with a pink cover, we have to be confident that commercially it can be sustained by female oriented purchasers.

So far books don't seem to be a casualty of the anti-pink tirade. Perhaps this is because the parents involved see them as a more worthy commodity. It seems to be the 'walls of pink' found in toy shops bearing the brunt of the wrath. Of course we don't have this problem in bookshops, due to the way books are merchandised. Until everyone writing for girls changes their surname to begin with 'M' in order to sit on the shelf next to Daisy Meadows, we should continue to achieve a fairly even spread.

But of course one shouldn't judge a book by its cover. Funny then that these campaigners should be enforcing the idea that what's on the outside does count. It doesn't seem to me that they're sending out a very positive message to their children by saying: "People won't take you seriously if you wear pink. It's too girly."

Did I miss something? I thought the feminist movement had moved on from this. I thought it was now about empowering women by appreciating our femininity and celebrating all we have to offer the world. I have been labouring under the misconception that we are no longer competing in 'a man's world' by trying to be more like them.

These parents seem most worried about the fact that their daughters will grow up thinking they're only good for 'girly' careers. Someone better tell Darcey Bussell that her drive, determination and hard work have been misplaced. She could have been a doctor, if only her parents hadn't allowed her to flounce about the house in a pink tutu.

The bottom line is, if you don't like it, don't buy it, but please don't insult our intelligence by telling us what we should and should not be buying for the little girls in our lives. My three year-old niece asked me for a pink sparkly dress and pink sparkly shoes for Christmas this year. I do not believe that indulging this request makes me an irresponsible role model, or is encouraging her to conform to any kind of gender stereotyping. As an educated, independent young woman with a successful career, I feel confident that I will inspire and support her to aim high and follow her dreams. Whether she does so wearing pink sequins is, I feel, entirely irrelevant.

Maybe I'll give up the publishing game, turn to politics and go for the top job. If only so that I can paint the door of Number 10 pink when I get there.

One for the little little-ones . . . #7 The Magic Little Sleigh

Jingle, jingle! Ding-a-dong ding!
Over the ocean, sleigh bells ring.
One little penguin's on his way,
Flying along in his magical sleigh!

Join these happy friends on their snowy day out. Children will love counting the creatures as they hop on the sleigh - with chunky touch-and-feel carriages that are perfect for little hands!

This is another product of Team Caterpillar so you can expect a lovely rhyming text, funky illustrations and a great novelty element. There are four books in this particular series and this one is a Christmassy counting adventure. Lots of glitter makes this one particularly festive.

To win a copy of this lovely book I'd like you to tell me where you would travel to if you had a magical sleigh to take you there.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

It's the most magical time of the year . . . #8 Winter Magic

A delightful collection of festive animal tales, with a sprinkling of magic, starring a lost wolfcub, some mischievous mice, a magic camel and a dog called wizard!

Featuring brand-new stories from celebrated authors - Michael Broad, Adele Geras, Tanya Landman, Penny Dolan, Julia Green, Holly Webb, Karen Wallace, Caroline Pitcher, Malachy Doyle and Elizabeth Baguley.

Christmas Animal Tales was received with such delight that we have since done not one, but two more Christmassy anthologies! This is number three, just to mix things up a bit. The quality has not dipped one jot. My favourite story in this one is Annie's Camel by Adele Geras. A lovely bit of Christmas magic!

To win this one I would like you to tell me what wish you would most like granted at Christmas time. My favourite gets a copy of the book.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Christmas is a time for family . . . #9 Christmas with You

Bows and ribbons shimmer bright,
sweet surprises wrapped with care.
Whispers in the firelight,
Christmas joy for us to share.

With stunning illustrations, this lyrical, joyful book is a wonderful celebration of all that is special about Christmas.

For me, the best thing about Christmas is spending time with my loved ones. Of course this has always been the case, but since leaving home and moving up to The Big Smoke, this time is even more special. I get two weeks back in Swansea to spend with my lovely family and friends. This book celebrates all the fantastic things you can do together at Christmas, from decorating the Christmas tree (my favourite thing) to singing carols. This really is a wonderful book to share together at Christmas.

I'm sure you can all guess what the question to win this book will be . . . Tell me your favourite thing to share/do with the special people in your life at Christmas. As it's my competition, I get to pick my favourite!

Monday, 7 December 2009

A pet is NOT just for Christmas . . . #10 Christmas Animal Tales

A magical treasury of festive animal tales, starring a little donkey, a naughty kitten, a special reindeer and even a talking turkey. Featuring brand new stories from celebrated authors Adele Geras, Michael Broad, Vivian French, Maeve Friel, Anna Wilson, Penny Dolan, Holly Webb and Alan Durant.

If there is one area in which Stripes is unrivalled, it's in cute animal stories. The prolific mistress of the Adorable Animal in Peril genre, Holly Webb, is our biggest selling author, selling in excess of half a million copies! It was only natural, then, that we produce a Christmas books playing to our strengths, and so Christmas Animal Tales was born. With contributions from the creme de la creme writing for young readers, including the lovely Holly, this is an utterly charming collection. My personal favourite is Talking Turkey by Alan Durant - I was a bit of an animal activist as a child!

To win this lovely book, I want you to tell me what name you would give to an adorable little puppy which was left on your doorstep on Christmas Eve. My favourite gets a copy of the book.

Friday, 4 December 2009

Getting Crafty for Christmas . . . #11 Christmas Stencils

Draw snowmen, flying reindeer, snowflakes, presents and much more using the stencils on each page and design your own snowy scenes, cards and wrapping paper. Then use the big press-out pieces as sparkling decorations - perfect for hanging on your tree.

This is a Caterpillar book. The Caterpillars are an incredibly creative bunch who design and produce all sorts of novelty books for quite small people. They come up with the most innovative ideas which sound wonderful, but none of us believe can actually be realised. Lo and behold, every time they manage to design the product so that it is actually feasible and our awesome production team find some clever printers who can make it a reality.

Christmas Stencils is one such example. It does so many things, it doesn't quite do it justice to simply call it a book. It is a board books with really cute illustrations and a lovely rhyming text, but it doesn't stop there. It has press out pieces, which you can use as stencils and the bits you press out have nifty little holes so that you can string a bit of ribbon through them and use them as Christmas decorations. Lovely.

There are five Christmas decorations in the book. One is given away on the cover - a snowman. A copy of the book to the first person to guess one of the other items.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

The Countdown Begins . . . #12 The Magical Snowman

Little Rabit has made a wonderful snowman. He doesn't want to leave him! "He is just a snowman," says Daddy. "He isn't real." But when Little Rabbit gets lost in the snow, a soft light sparkles through the trees and a very special friend appears to take him on a magical journey home . . .

This book obviously has echoes of the Raymond Briggs classic, The Snowman. It's a really sweet story, probably more suitable for a younger age group, perfect to snuggle up with as a wintry bedtime story. I love Alison Edgson's illustrations because her animals are so gorgeously soft and fluffy you could be forgiven for attempting to reach out and stroke them. You can't really tell from the picture, but the snowman is glittery on every page, and a bit of glitter is always rather nice at Christmas!

So, to get your hands on a copy, please comment below telling me what you would most like to build out of snow and find come to life. I will pick my favourite. Keep it clean, please, it's a kids' book!

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

The Twelve Days Until Christmas Commences!

That's right people, as of tomorrow I will have just twelve days left in the office before I head back to the wet, lovely land of song I call home. And as Christmas is a time of giving, I have decided to give my dear readers a Christmas treat.

I spend a fair amount of time worrying that no one is actually reading my ramblings, but then my good friend Simon over at Big Green Books pointed out that I could put a counter up and find out the truth, and it turns out a fair few people have actually stopped by, although whether by accident or not, I can't be sure. Anyhoo, I will be rewarding the people who are interested in what I have to say with some lovely books from Little Tiger, Stripes and Caterpillar.

Each working day for the next twelve days I will be posting a little bit about one of our lovely Christmassy books, along with a competition question. At 5pm each day I will select a winner at random who will get a copy of the book. Pretty simple really.

See you back here on the morrow for book one! Which of this lovely lot will it be??