Christmas is a magical time of year and so it seems only fitting to have a feature post on some truly magical illustrated fiction and re-imagined fairy tales.
A Natural History of Magick by Poppy David and Jessica Roux
One of my Top Picks for 2020 was A Natural History of Fairies by Emily Hawkins & Jessica Roux (read my review here) and I was ecstatic to discover Jessica had illustrated another book in the series, written by Poppy David, A Natural History of Magick.
Originally compiled in the 1920s by the globetrotting naturalist Professor Conrad Gessner for his grandson, this gift-style illustrated book is filled with precise notes detailing the secret world of magic from divination and tarot reading to astrology and alchemy. My daughter loved the spread on familiars.
The books gold foil–embossed cloth covers, ribbon markers and sprayed gold edges make them feel so decadent. Both A Natural History of Fairies and A Natural History of Magick would make fabulous Christmas gifts.
Published by Frances Lincoln Children’s Books, 7 September 2021
The Lost Book of Adventure and Journey to the Last River by an Unknown Explorer, edited by Teddy Keen
Another series we adore, that has a magical feel to it, is The Lost Book of Adventure and Journey to the Last River. They contain the notes from an unknown explorer whose love of nature shines through.
We were hooked from the opening note: If you are reading this, it means my notebooks have been found. I am leaving them here at camp for safekeeping along with a few other belongings that I won’t be taking with me. The notebooks are a lifetime’s worth of knowledge, which I’m passing on to you.
The details are incredible! They made us feel like we were off on a real adventure of our own. Every page offers a new discovery. The pencil illustrations are out of this world. My daughter loved turning the book sideways and the pull-out map.
Journey to the Last River takes you on a thrilling voyage into the Amazon rainforest. My daughter adored the section on building shelters. Spread over several pages, this section was just magical and sparked her imagination.
These stunningly illustrated books are a pure delight to be enjoyed all year round. They are books you will want to go back to again and again.
The Lost Book of Adventure was published by Lincoln Children’s Books, 7 March 2019
Journey to the Last River was published by Frances Lincoln Children’s Books, 21 September 2021
About the editor:
Teddy Keen is the editor and compiler of The Lost Book of Adventure – the discovered works and illustrations of The Unknown Adventurer. In 2014 during a trip to the Amazon Teddy Keen, himself an illustrator and outdoor enthusiast, came across a sealed metal container in a remote hut on the banks of Jari River. The contents turned out to be the lifetime’s work of an unknown artist adventurer. Alongside the notebooks, sketchbooks and other belongings was a letter which appeared to be written for the benefit of two young family members. The case and its contents were shipped back to the UK. With his outdoor knowledge Teddy and a team of experts have spent the past 2 years restoring, then compiling and editing the treasure trove of adventuring knowledge into a book for the world to see.
The Little Fir Tree by Christopher Corr, from an original story by Hans Christian Andersen
From magical, mysterious books to reimagined fairy tales, this next book definitely has the Christmas appeal. Christopher Corr has created a vibrant, modern retelling of Han’s Christians Andersen’s tale The Little Fir Tree.
Deep in the forest, there lived a beautiful little fir tree who longed to see the world. When the tree is taken to town at Christmas, it feels like all his dreams have come true. But what will happen the day after?
This story is bitter-sweet. There is a beautiful message about living in the moment and appreciating what is around you. There is also a stark reminder that the grass is not always greener and the reality of the disregarded trees after Christmas from an eco-perspective. The story does come full circle at the end, to finish on a hopeful note.
Published by Frances Lincoln Children’s Books, 5 October 2021
Cinderella and Jack and the Beanstalk by Stephen Tucker and Nick Sharratt
Nothing beats a modernised traditional fairy tale – except a lift-the-flap modernised traditional fairy tale. Nick’s iconic illustrations are always so bright and inviting.
My girls particularly loved lifting the flap to see Cinderella’s pumpkin turn into a carriage for the Royal Ball.
And of course, the giant beanstalk was a pure delight!
The books also include a free audio reading, complete with music and sound effects!My two-year-old loved these books and they would make great stocking fillers for Christmas.
Cinderella was published by Macmillan Children’s Books, 22 July 2021
Jack and the Beanstalk was published by Macmillan Children’s Books, 22 July 2021
I am very grateful to the publishers for providing me with complimentary copies of these books. This voluntary feature contains my honest opinion.