Books for Christmas Part 1: Beautiful books, special editions and sharing with children

Every year, all of us at Mostly Books pick our favourite titles to recommend to you that we feel make perfect gifts for everyone you might be buying for this Christmas: whether it's for a book-loving octogenarian, a tricky-to-buy-for Uncle who only likes fishing, a Minecraft-mad 12 year old - or a small person celebrating his or her first Christmas.

So for the next few weeks, our #FridayReads will feature a selection of our best picks - but of course, we're here to help when you come in. And you can always email or call ahead of time and we can have a selection ready for you to browse...

Beautiful Books and Special Editions

Lists of Note - Shaun Usher - £30
Letters of Note’ was one of our favourite books of 2013, an imaginative and beautifully put together collection of letters from the famous and legendary, many from key moments in history. Author Shaun Usher has done it again, this time with ‘Lists of Note’ – a record of the most important lists ever written, those that chart history from the notes people make and have left us with. With Shaun's insightful commentary, there are moving and inspiring lists including a role call of Egyptian slaves, Leonardo da Vinci’s ‘to do’ list and Scott Fitzgerald conjugating the verb ‘to cocktail’. Surprising, often moving, an utterly fascinating way of presenting human history.

Matchbox Theatre - Michael Frayn - £12.99
'Matchbox Theatre' is a miniature sketch show of 30 dialogues and monologues from one of best-loved playwrights, journalists and writers, to be played in the theatres of readers' imaginations (or possibly their living rooms over the festive period). 

Knowledge is Beautiful - David McCandless - £30
A fascinating insight into our world, our lives and our minds - from questions and facts on history and politics to science and literature, all beautifully represented in an inspiring - and often surprising - visual style.

The stark beauty that emerges from imaginative ways of visually displaying information is at times breathtaking. This is a book that needs to be seen to be appreciated!

Maps: Their Untold Stories -
Rose Mitchell & Andrew Janes - £30

This magnificent collection, drawn from seven centuries of maps held in the National Archives at Kew, looks at a variety of maps, from those found in 14th Century manuscripts, through early estate maps, to sea charts, maps used in military campaigns, and maps from treaties. The text explores who the mapmakers were, the purposes for which the maps were made, and what it tells us about the politics of the time.

John Constable: The Making of a Master -
Mark Evans - £30

Published to accompany a major V&A exhibition, this book evaluates these aspects of Constable's work, placing the artist's naturalism and studio work in the context of his wider practice - in particular his talent for copying, and extensive print collection. This book shows how the artist's reverence for the Old Masters is not incompatible with his revolutionary handling of paint: where others competed with the Masters, Constable assimilated their ideas and values to imbue his own naturalistic vision with dynamism.

Books to share with young children

Princess Mirror-Belle & The Dragon Pox -
Julia Donaldson & Lydia Monks - £11.99

Ellen gets a big shock when her double appears out of the bathroom mirror, but Mirror-Belle is a double with a difference! She is a princess, and a mischievous one at that. She is sure that Ellen's chicken pox is actually dragon pox - and she is full of ideas about how to make the spots disappear...a fun, glitter-filled story from the author-illustrator team that brought you 'Sugarlump and Unicorn' and 'What The Ladybird Heard'!

Gigantosaurus - Jonny Duddle - £6.99
We love Jonny Duddle, and this story about Bonehead and his unheeded warnings of a really BIG dinosaur has all our favourite elements: a great story, the trademark larger-than-life illustrations and a subtle message about telling tall tales. His feet go STOMP! His jaws go CRUNCH! In the blink of an eye you ll be his LUNCH! 

The Dance Teacher - Simon Milne - £10.99
A beautifully illustrated, timeless story about ballet, effort and rewards, and a special relationship between a girl and her teacher. One day a little girl peers around the door of Miss Sylvie's dance studio. 'I want to be a ballerina,' she says...
Celebrating the joy of dance and the role inspirational teachers can play in our lives, The Dance Teacher will enchant readers young and old.

Moonlight Bear - Rosie Wellesley - £5.99
When Eva wakes up after drifting off to sleep with her favourite teddy bear, she finds Bear is gone. But her teddy has turned into a real bear, and he takes Eva on an adventure around the town at night. They play, have fun and see other children with their animals while they are out. After rushing home before sunrise, Eva falls back to sleep. But was it all a dream?

This is pitch-perfect bedtime storytelling and a great message about adventure and imagination for little ones.

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