Gifts for 2020: Christmas books for 9-12 year olds

Frostheart 2: Escape From Aurora by Jamie Littler (2020)

What better book to read when there’s a chill in the air than one where the heroes need saving from snow and ice? Jamie Littler’s sequel to Frostheart takes Ash and his Frostheart crew to the mind-blowing stronghold of Aurora, where he continues to hunt for his parents. But while the place may look incredible, it is not safe for Song Weavers, and Ash, Lunah, Rook and Tobu need to escape fast. When the Frostheart crew are left stranded on the ice, they have to use all of their skills and bravery to get to safety.

Love Frankie by Jacqueline Wilson (2020)

Love Frankie will make the perfect stocking-filler for any Jacqueline Wilson fan. Frankie has a lot on her plate. Her mum is seriously ill, she’s nearly 14 and she’s being bullied by Sally and her gang at school. But when Frankie starts spending time with Sally, she realises her feelings towards her were all wrong. In fact, she thinks she might be falling in love with her. Does this mean she's gay? Accompany Frankie as she seeks answers to these questions and learns to follow her heart in the bestselling author’s new book about what it’s like to fall in love for the first time.

Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan (2005)

Before you overindulge on the turkey, why not indulge in the first book in Rick Riordan’s fantasy adventure series? Follow Percy Jackson as he is forced to come to terms with the fact that he is no ordinary boy! The demigod is in fact the son of the Greek god Poseidon. Hades has kidnapped Percy’s mother and Zeus thinks he has stolen his lightning bolt. It’s time for the 12-year-old to embark on a quest to stop an all-out war between the gods.

Death Sets Sail by Robin Stevens (2020)

In the final novel in the award-winning Murder Most Unladylike series, Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong are investigating their most difficult case yet. They were hoping to have a holiday in Egypt – catch a few of the ancient sights and have a relaxing cruise along the Nile. They are joined on their boat by a strange society called the Breath of Life, who believe they are reincarnations of Egyptian kings and queens. But their leader is then stabbed to death in her bed, and everyone is blaming her sleepwalking daughter. Daisy and Hazel must dodge danger to find out who the real murderer is. A wonderful whodunnit with an unexpected twist!

Your Mood Journal by Fearne Cotton (2020)

It’s been a tough year for everyone and it’s normal for your emotions to have been a bit all over the place. Perhaps you’ve found yourself feeling sad, happy, angry, lonely, worried or scared – maybe all of them at different points. Now broadcaster and bestselling author Fearne Cotton is inviting you to keep track of and understand your moods in her new journal. This colourful, illustrated book is jam-packed full of interactive activities, tips and notes. Learn about why you might be feeling a certain way and how to become confident about sharing your feelings. Make your diary as individual as your emotions by drawing, writing and adding Fearne’s fun stickers to this unique and important book.

You Must Be Layla by Yassmin Abdel-Magied (2020)

Sudanese-born Layla has just won a scholarship at a fancy new school and she’s over the moon! New friends, new teachers and lots of new things to learn. Unfortunately, Layla comes up against a racist bully pretty quickly, and when she stands up for herself that lands her a suspension. It’s so unfair, and not the best way to start off at her new school. Still, ever the optimist, Layla is determined to prove she’s deserving of her scholarship and decides to enter the school’s big robotics competition. This is a humorous and thought-provoking read that explores how people from different cultures often face social injustice.

Little Badman and the Invasion of the Killer Aunties by Humza Arshad & Henry White (2019)

Humza Khan aka Little Badman has huge aspirations. He’s already the biggest 11-year-old rapper his school has ever seen – and soon EVERYONE will know his name. But life has become a little strange at school lately. The teachers have disappeared and aunties have taken over. It was good at first – they fed everyone yummy snacks – but they don’t really know anything about rapping. It’s time for Humza and his best friends Umer and Wendy to find out what’s going on and to set things straight. This first fast-paced adventure in the series from comedian Humza Arshad and screenwriter Henry White is rip-roaringly funny.

The Miracle on Ebenezer Street by Catherine Doyle (2020)

This reimagining of Charles Dickens’ classic A Christmas Carol is guaranteed to become a modern hit. George’s life has felt boring and sad since his mum died, and now it looks like Christmas will pass by with little to celebrate. George’s dad is busy with work and he is left to keep himself occupied. One day he finds himself in Marley’s Curiosity Shop, where a mysterious snow globe catches his attention. On closer inspection, George can see that the globe contains a scene from his past. It’s Christmas, when his mum was alive and everyone was happy. Join George and his dad as they are taken on an adventure to three Christmases – past, present and future. Will the journey help them recapture the magic of this festive season and learn to smile again?

Into the Spotlight by Carrie Hope Fletcher (2020)

Author and performer Carrie Hope Fletcher was inspired by Noel Streatfeild’s Ballet Shoes when she wrote this story of three children who are adopted by an eccentric theatre owner. Brilliant Aunt Maude’s theatre in London might be home to a cast of extraordinary performers, but its seats are nearly empty. Dante the magician, Petunia the storyteller and 70-year-old contortionists the Fortune Sisters could all be about to take their final bows. But Marigold, Mabel and Morris Pebble are determined to do all they can to save the theatre, and when they discover something they were never meant to find, they might just be able to!

How High the Moon by Karyn Parsons (2019)

How High the Moon is set in 1944 in the small town of Alcolu, South Carolina where a deep racial tension simmers. Eleven-year-old Ella misses her mother, who lives and works as a jazz singer in Boston, but she’s been enjoying her summer running around and fishing with her cousin Myrna and best friend Henry. Then an invitation arrives from her mother asking her to come and visit! Ella jumps at the chance and experiences for the first time what life is like outside of segregation. A month later, she returns home to the South feeling enlightened, but her newfound happiness is shattered when she learns that her Black schoolmate George is being charged with the murder of two white girls. This is a bittersweet and moving story about finding yourself in a world determined to hold you down.

Boy In The Tower by Polly Ho-Yen (2015)

Ade and his mother live at the top of a tower block in London. Ade loves it; he feels as though he can see the whole world from his window, and it’s safe from those mysterious plants that have recently appeared. Ade’s mum doesn’t really like looking outside – she’s been feeling sad lately and prefers the comfort of her own bed. But one day Ade realises that the other tower blocks around them have begun to collapse because of those plants. Their tower is no longer safe, and it’s up to Ade to make some tough decisions. Perfect for fans of sci-fi, this is a gripping story that also touches on the subject of mental health.

Roll Of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor (1976)

This classic story follows Cassie Logan, a Black girl growing up in Mississippi during The Great Depression. She and her family live on 400 acres of land that her father is immensely proud of, although Cassie doesn’t really understand why at first. Over the course of this particularly turbulent year, she witnesses her family’s struggle – and experiences her own – as they work to maintain their independence, courage and integrity in the face of racism and prejudice. Roll Of Thunder, Hear My Cry is an eye-opening book everyone needs to read.

Pig Heart Boy by Malorie Blackman (1997)

Cameron is a normal 13-year-old boy – but unlike his peers, he has a weak heart and needs a heart transplant. Unfortunately, time is running out to find a donor. But then he meets a transgenics doctor with a risky and controversial idea that has never been done before – he will give Cam the heart of a pig. The operation is a success but Cam soon finds himself facing backlash from the media, animal rights protestors and even kids at school. This is a powerful classic from award-winning author Malorie Blackman that deserves a spot on everyone’s bookshelf.

Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer (2001)

Artemis Fowl is not like other 12-year-olds. You see, Artemis is a criminal genius – and he’s criminally good at it – that has just discovered that fairies are real. Oh, but wipe images of cuddly, Peter-Pan-style, bedtime story fairies from your mind, because this lot are anything but. They’re armed. They’re dangerous. And they’re ready for anything. And when Artemis captures Captain Holly Short for her fairy gold, he messes with the wrong elf. These fairies fight back… as Artemis is going to learn. 

Wonder by R. J. Palacio (2012)

R. J. Palacio’s book that sparked a global movement to be kinder to others is a pretty special gift for anyone. The story follows 10-year-old Auggie, a character that children and adults alike need to meet at some point during their lifelong reading journey. Born with a facial abnormality, Auggie has been home-schooled by his parents his whole life. Now, for the first time, he's being sent to a real school and he’s terrified. What will the other kids say when they see his face? Will they be kind? Will they look at the boy inside and not just the boy they see on the outside?

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens (1843)

No story is more Christmassy than A Christmas Carol. The bitter Ebenezer Scrooge who says ‘Bah, humbug!’ to the festive season is shown the error of his ways when he’s paid a visit by the ghosts of Christmas past, present and yet-to-come. This classic has transcended the struggles of time to remain one of Dickens’ greatest tales. And although dark at times, young readers will enjoy the spooky festive spell this book casts.

Watership Down by Richard Adams (1972)

Fiver has a sixth sense that’s never wrong – well, according to his brother Hazel – and it’s telling him that something terrible is about to happen to his beloved warren. He doesn’t know what exactly, but he’s sure of it. The siblings just know that they have to leave and get everyone in the colony out of there, too. And so begins their epic journey; a journey that eventually leads this band of rabbits to Watership Down. But are they ready for what happens next? Watership Down is a classic tale of home, family, power and man versus nature, a truly timeless literary wonder.

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle (1962)

When young Meg goes looking for her lost father with her brother, she finds more than she bargained for. The pair soon find themselves on an unexpected adventure like no other through a ‘wrinkle in time’. With cosmic evil forces threatening to swallow the entire universe, Meg must find her inner strength to save her family. This story is the perfect combination of adventure, fantasy and science-fiction. Mrs Whatsit, Mrs Who and Mrs Which, a mysterious trio of guardian angels, are a comical treat to look forward to.

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