And a Big BaLL of String 

2017 Advent-ures with Books

 - Tuesday, November 28, 2017

We're counting down the days to Christmas with an Advent Calendar of Children's Books! Check out And a Big BaLL of String to see daily suggestions of books that our children's section booksellers Louise and Lynndy both love and recommend.




December 16th                                                                                                                                            

A Boy and a Bear in a Boat by Dave Shelton ($15, PB)

“The title and cover encapsulate the setting and eccentricity of this brilliant open-ended story: the bear with his genteel manners captaining the rowboat for the boy whose destination is the vague ‘other side, please’. Provisioned with an undifferentiated blue map, a ukelele, a comic, a suitcase and, ultimately, The Very Last Sandwich (too revolting to contemplate), the travellers face storms, sea monsters, monotony and uncertainty; their relationship seesawing throughout. There’s humour aplenty in the slightly surreal narrative and accompanying illustrations, but this is so much more than a droll novel for younger readers. Winner of the Branford Boase Award and shortlisted for multiple others, it is a beguiling metaphysical gem.” Lynndy

December 15th

Titania and Oberon illustrated by Phyllis Bray ($24.95, HC)

“This simple retelling of Shakespeare’s Midsummer’s Night Dream has been recreated into a beautiful confection by illustrator Phyllis Bray in 1945. She captures all the frippery and lightness of mood, with her expressive drawings and limited palette 
'I know a bank where the wild thyme blows,
Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows…' but for a new, younger audience.” Louise

December 14th

The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill ($17, PB)

This is why we read!
Every year the Protectorate sacrifices a baby to appease the Witch in the nearby great forest, but rather than harming the infants the Witch, confounded by a community that abandons babies, rescues them, feeds them starlight and takes them to faraway villages where they are wanted. When baby Luna is dumped in the forest, Xan, the Witch, accidentally feeds her moonlight, enmagicking her. Xan adopts Luna but as the child’s 13th birthday nears, tremendous magical forces coincide, unleashing powers previously unseen. Populated by memorable characters, including kindly healer Xan; her friend the swamp monster; a miniature dragon as innocently garrulous as Donkey in Shrek; the Elders of Protectorate who maintain the town in the perpetual sorrow they feed upon; Luna, and ‘unhinged’ others, this is a wonderful playful fairy tale with a difference. Leavened with humour, compassion and originality, it is deservedly the Newbery medal winner for 2017 and one of my favourite books this decade!” Lynndy

December 13th

Rock Pool Secrets by Narelle Oliver ($25, HC)

“Narelle Oliver was a master of linocut prints, and a great advocate of the natural world. Full of colour and textures, teeming with life, and with ingenious shaped flaps, this book is like a trip to the seaside to explore the marvellous, secret life of rock pools.” Louise

December 12th  


Mr Penguin and the Lost Treasure by Alex T. Smith ($20, HC)

“Wobbly-bottomed Mr Penguin and his best friend Colin, a bowler-hatted spider, embark on their first Adventure solving a mystery at the museum. So far I’ve loved every book by Alex Smith; with his wit, humour and excitement-craving characters in this illustrated novel for young readers, his latest is no exception. Are you observant enough readers or listeners to connect all the clues before these intrepid heroes?” Lynndy 

December 11th  

The Very Noisy Baby by Alison Lester ($25, HC)
“A new Alison Lester book is always exciting, and this one is particularly joyous. A baby who lives on the edge of town makes many unusual sounds. Luckily her skills can help all the people who have misplaced their animals – from a tiger to a cockatoo. This story has a satisfying symmetry, and of course is full of marvellous animals, and has a very reassuring sense of place.” Louise      

December 10th


Facts! One for Every Day of the Year - Tracey Turner, ill Fatti Burke ($23, HC)

“Arrestingly bright colours and brief text entries make this ideal for the confident or reluctant reader, as well as for junior trivia-hounds. Information covers the natural and human worlds, superstitions and history. Great if you like your information in digestible bites, this lively collection will extend your general knowledge one fact a day.”  Lynnd

December 9th  

The Wolf, the Duck, the Mouse by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen ($25, HC)

"Why do wolves howl at the moon? Mac Barnett’s ‘origin’ story will tell you why – once a wolf swallowed a duck, and then he swallowed a mouse, and all was well until a hunter appeared, and then… Jon Klassen’s illustrations are quietly hilarious, muted but rich, and he has created an extremely appealing world inside the wolf –it’s no wonder the duck and the mouse are reluctant to give up their new space. A perfect picture book." Louise

December 8th

A Dog with Nice Ears by Lauren Child ($25, HC)

"Lola is obsessed with dogs; she wants one more than anything in the world, although her parents have said no. She and her brother Charlie muse over various desirable doggy aspects, with Lola adamant that nice ears are essential. A family trip to the pet shop brings a resolution that satisfies everyone, and fulfils Lola’s utmost criterion." Lynndy



December 7th

Finn Family Moomintroll, Collector’s Edition by Tove Jansson ($20 HC)

"This is a special edition of the Finnish children’s classic, with a colourful dust jacket, a pull-out map of Moomin Valley, and beautiful endpapers. Tove Jansson was an exceptional artist and illustrator, and the world of the Moomins is a place of enchantment, that will stay with you for the rest of your life. In this, the third Moomin book, the Moomintroll family wake up from a long hibernation, and find the Hobgoblin’s hat, and many adventures follow." Louise

December 6th

Make It Grow by Debbie Powell ($19, BD)

"Against a background palette that reflects each habitat, rhyming text describes the life of plants and creatures. Lift the flaps to revealed brightly coloured flora & fauna depicted in a mix of stylised and realistic illustrations. This is an attractively designed book for younglings." Lynndy


December 5th

Grandma’s House by Alice Melvin ($30, HC)

"Follow a little girl as she wanders through her grandmother’s house, “where everything is different, but always stays the same…” Alice Melvin’s illustrations are extremely detailed, but have great clarity, stylised but full of life. With ingenious die-cuts, and the occasional fabulous flap, we join Alice as she looks for the most important part of the house - her Grandma of course." Louise


December 4th

Goodnight Songs by Margaret Wise Brown ($12, BD)

"With each of the twelve lullaby-poems in this book featuring a different award winning illustrator, you will find an offering for any mood, and true to the theme of her best-known book, the moon is a strong presence throughout. A gorgeous collection to share at bedtime." Lynndy

December 3rd

The Poesy Ring by Bob Graham ($25, HC)

"The journey of a golden ring that starts in Co. Kerry on the west coast of Ireland, 1830, and ends in NYC in 1967 – with many twists and turns on the way. Written in poetic prose - a style that suits its subject beautifully; and wonderfully illustrated as a celebration of nature. Bob Graham stretches and compresses the concept of time with apparent ease, making a moment appear epic, and decades seem like seconds." - Louise

December 2nd

Rory the Dinosaur Needs a Christmas Tree by Liz Climo ($13, PB)

"Dinosaurs and Christmas might not be a natural pairing in most people’s minds, but this book completely won me over, brimming as it is with warmth, enthusiasm and love. Rory and his Dad’s search for a Christmas tree ends in a celebration of the essential spirit of Christmas. Charmingly non-consumerist, this book comes with a free Christmas card." Lynndy

December 1st

Hide and Seek by Anthony Browne ($25, HC)
"Poppy and Cy are bored one day, and go into the forest to play hide and seek. With stunning illustrations that are saturated with colour, and resonating with mystery, this book invites us into the game, the smallest details leading us further into the wood. There’s also a list of some of the things hiding in the forest, on the back page." - Louise