2023 Holiday Gift Guide: 12 Children & YA books

We would argue these are perfect for adults as well.


Welcome to our holiday gift guide, where we recommend books perfect for the book-lovers around you. While this list features children/YA books, we bet adults would love them too!

A Traveller in TimeA Traveller in Time 

This is a classic by Alison Uttley that many people grew up with. For those who don’t know, this is a story following Penelope who got sent to the Tudor era to save Mary Queen of Scots. Having first published in 1939, this book has had many editions and covers but this new edition by Faber features illustrations by John Broadley, who has designed for Fortnum & Mason and many other brands. And if we are being honest, this could serve as a present not just for the children in your life, but also the adults who have read this growing up.




Carrie's War

Carrie’s War (50th anniversary edition)

Part of the Virago Modern Classics, this 50th anniversary edition of the British classics is a nice hardback, with gold foils on the cover. The story is drawn from Nina Bawden’s own experience fleeing London during the WWII, and the foreword of this 50th anniversary edition was written by Emma Carroll. We definitely think Emma Carroll is the perfect choice for this as her book, The Little Match Girl Strikes Backis like the modern equivalent of Carrie’s War. And while we have covered many books set during the WWII, this feels very unique due to the story told in adult Carrie’s perspective, making the story a lot more real.



Grimms’ Fairy Tales (Puffin Clothbound Classics)

This version features 55 fairy tales from the Grimms’ brothers, and includes famous ones like Hansel and Grettel and The Golden Goose, but also mostly many that we have never heard of before. In fact, this edition chooses to prioritise these lesser known stories over well-known ones like Puss in Boots or Cinderella. We are absolutely loving the design of the cover, since Grimms’ fairy tales tend to be rather dark, and the quote on the back cover, “Little by little she came to herself, thought of her story as a mere dream.”, which comes from The Elfin Grove, is also perfectly chosen. Now the question is, can you guess which story inspired the cover illustration?




Hans Christian Andersen's Fairy TalesHans Christian Andersen’s Fairy Tales (Puffin Clothbound Classics)

This collection features 12 Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tales retold by Naomi Lewis, who was famous for her adaptation of these classics.  This edition features a foreword by Naomi Lewis as well, and it’s very lovely to read about Hans Christian’s life, how Naomi felt his fairy tales differ from the ones by the Grimms, and how the stories in this collection were chosen. The cover of this collection draws inspirations from several stories, e.g. The Little Mermaid, The Ugly Duckling etc.





The Harry Potter Wizarding Almanac 

This is an absolutely gorgeous wikipedia to the Harry Potter world, with colourful illustrations done by an international team of illustrators (Peter Goes, Louise Lockhart, Weitong Mai, Olia Muza, Pham Quang Phuc, Levi Pinfold, and Tomislav Tomic). At 200 pages, this guidebook has everything, from inside looks of places we are familiar with, such as the Burrow and The Ministry of Magic, to an in-depth look of life at Hogwarts, such as the homework and societies at the wizarding school. This book is perfect for any Potterhead you know.




Gods and Monsters: Mythological Poems 

This collection of poems is compiled by Ana Sampson, who has worked on many anthology of poems. The collection consists of classics such as The Odyssey, and Metamorphoses, as well as ones by Joseph Coelho and Nikita Gill. There are also many gorgeous illustrations by Chris Riddell, almost one on each page, making the collection look almost like a well-loved sketchbook. There is also a lovely foreword by Natalie Haynes who penned Greek myth retelllings such as Stone Blind




 Ancient Love Stories 

This one is not just for the teenagers in your life — it’s perfect for any romantics. For this book, Emily Hauser collected 11 love stories from ancient history, and they are very diverse, ranging from the Han Dynasty, Pompeii and Jacobean London. We had an absolute joy reading about these lovers as we have only heard of 5 of these stories previously. With fancy endpapers, colorful pages and beautiful illustrations by Sander Berg throughout the pages, this volume makes a great present.




 The World of Sylvanian Families + Sylvanian Families Sticker Dress-Up Christmas

Anyone grew up having or wanting to have a set of Sylvanian Families doll house at home? Macmillan Children’s Books recently partnered with Sylvanian Families to create a series of books, with these two books releasing this year and perfect for the holiday season. The World of Sylvanian Families has everything you would want to know about these doll — from getting to know the characters, to exploring the map of the Sylvanian Village, to learning about the history of this franchise. This is perfect for anyone who loves these dolls and the doll houses. As for the sticker book, there are designated places for the stickers but we are almost tempted to just stick them in our notebooks because they are just too cute.


Welcome to the ArtsWelcome to the Arts: Dance

Welcome to the Arts is a new series by Big Picture Press and y’all, the book is BIG. So huge to the point that none of our bookshelves can handle its height hah. Anyway, Dance gives readers a proper introduction to many types of dances, from ballet to flamenco to ceremonial dances. And each topic is done incredibly well — Dance also includes information about each type of dance’s history, famous choreographers, costumes, and dance pieces. We can’t wait to see what the next title will be like for this series.




Terra Ultima Terra Ultima: The Discovery of a hidden continent 

The concept of this Big Picture Press book is very fascinating — it is an encyclopedia that one might struggle to believe in. After all, what explorer and artist Raoul Deleo introduces us to here are some fascinating plants and animals that are unique to a continent named Terra Ultima. And even Dr. Noah J. Stern, who helped compile this book, does not know of its exact location. With the creatures being so extraordinary, such as a ladybird that looks like a bear, and a firefly that looks like a hare, Raoul Deleo challenges our imagination. And even if you don’t quite believe everything here, it is definitely a book that encourages readers to think very outside of the box.


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