Books for Christmas 2015: our favourites for 9-12s

You're never to old to share a great story - from nail-biters to laugh riots, these new books for older children are guaranteed to galvanise even reluctant readers.

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If you love Eva Ibbotson, try...

A Slice of the Moon

A Slice of the Moon by Sandi Toksvig

A gripping adventure story about a family who leave for America when the potato famine hits Ireland. Set during an important yet harrowing period of history, A Slice of the Moon is told with wit and warmth - a true joy to read.

The Boy at the Top of the Mountain by John Boyne

John Boyne (The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, History of Loneliness) tells the gut-wrenching story of Pierrot, a young orphan boy sent to live in the German mountains with his aunt. But this is no rural idyll: it's 1935, and the house where his aunt works as a servant is the Berghof, Adolf Hitler's home. 

To tug at the heartstrings...

The ACB with Honora Lee

The ACB with Honora Lee by Kate De Goldi

A moving story about family and friendship. Perry visits her gran every week, and adores her quirky company. But when Perry starts documenting her life, she finds that her beloved grandmother is losing her memory, along with the words she loves.

The Story of Antigone

The Story of Antigone by Ali Smith

Award-winning author Ali Smith introduces Sophocles' Antigone to younger readers in a beautiful new edition from Pushkin Press. Told in the voice of a somewhat sinister but likeable old crow, the book retells Antigone’s tragic story from an unusual point of view. Laura Paoletti's accompanying illustrations give this classic tale a sophisticated finish.

Sure-fire favourites

Harry Potter

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J.K Rowling illustrated by Jim Kay

This much-anticipated illustrated edition has been received warmly by children and adults alike. Jim Kay's deliciously inky drawings bring the magic to life, and The Bookseller calls it "the most handsome and desirable gift book of the year".

Tom Gates: Top of the Class (nearly) by Liz Pichon

With a string of prestigious awards and an army of fans, Liz Pichon's series is the newest big thing in children's literature. Top of the Class (Nearly) is the 9th book in the series and sees Tom running for school council. Liz Pichon's witty story and anarchic doodles make this the ideal choice for reluctant young readers. 

For fans of non-fiction... 

National Theatre

All About the National Theatre by Katherine Rundell

This stunning hardback book is packed with fascinating details about what really happens at the National Theatre, from tips on set design to recipes for making a blood bag at home. It's a perfect gift for budding thespians and theatre buffs.

Dr Who

Dr Who: The Dangerous Book of Monsters by Justin Richards

Young Whovians will love the latest guide from Britain's favourite Doctor. Set out in journal format, it includes notes on monsters from the Doctor's travels through space and time. Doodles, tips, photos and sketches give readers the lowdown on how to defeat the most gruesome creatures, and when to make a speedy escape from them.

Cressida Cowell fan? Check out these new releases...

The Map to Everywhere by Carrie Ryan and John Parke Davis

Master thief Fin and schoolgirl Marril find themselves on a pirate ship on the run from a dark and powerful wizard. A delightful fantasy romp filled with action and humour. The second book in the series, City of Thirst, is available in hardback now.       

Erth Dragons

The Erth Dragons: The Wearle by Chris D'Lacey

This is the first in what promises to be an exciting new dragon series. A team of dragons arrive on Erth in search of a long-lost colony of their kin. Their fates are intertwined with the life of Ren, an unassuming human boy. Introducing a whole new mythical world with its own vocabulary, this makes a fantastic gift for young dragon admirers.

Hungry for more? Take a look at recommendations from Autumn 2015

Comedy gold

The Bolds by Julian Clary

A family of hyenas masquerading as humans in the suburb of Teddington: what could possibly go wrong? Described by MNers as 'hilarious and imaginative', it's no surprise that this quirky tale has won a Mumsnet Best badge.

The Jam Doughnut that Ruined my Life by Mark Lowery

When Roman Garstang gets his jam doughnut out on the school bus, he only wants to have a sneaky snack. Instead, he ends up embarking on a week of jammy disasters. A hilarious story about the mishaps of an ordinary schoolboy.


Fuzzy Mud by Louis Sachar

On the run from the school bully, two friends take a shortcut through the forbidden woods and make an alarming discovery. A fast-paced mystery from the expert storyteller who brought you Holes and the Wayside School series.

Eren by Simon P. Clark

A family scandal forces Oli and his mum to spend the summer in his uncle's isolated country home. Here Oli meets Eren, a mysterious creature who lives in his uncle's attic. Eren's stories allow Oli to escape reality - but he soon learns how dangerously powerful a story can be.

Classroom dramas

The Eighteenth Emergency by Betsy Byars

Mouse has a plan for every emergency: he knows how to survive a plane crash, a bite from a poisonous snake, even quicksand. But creating a plan to deal with - and maybe even defeat - school bully Marv Hammerman is going to be a challenge. Warm and funny, this American classic is definitely worth rediscovering.

Rugby Academy: Dead Locked by Tom Palmer

The third book in Tom Palmer's acclaimed Rugby Academy series is a perfect fit for young rugby fans. Fifteen-year-old Owen prepares to compete in the World Schools Rugby Trophy. Will the team crack under the pressure or rise to victory?

Animal magic

The Wolf Wilder by Katherine Rundell

Feodora and her mother live in a warm and well-stocked but isolated cabin in the depths of the Russian forest. Feo's mother is a wolf wilder: the opposite of an animal tamer, she teaches tame animals to fight, run, and hide from humans. But change is afoot in Russia, the Revolutionary Army is coming, and Feo will have to learn for herself how to survive in the wild. The Wolf Wilder beautifully describes a chilling Russian winter of wolves, revolution and fierce love.

How to Train Your Dragon: How to Fight a Dragon's Fury by Cressida Cowell

The highly anticipated final book in Cressida Cowell's award-winning series doesn't disappoint: the final showdown between dragons and humans is about to begin, and the fate of an entire species rests on young Hiccup's shoulders. Cressida joined us to talk about her new book and why she thinks dragons are amazing; read the webchat to find out more. 


The 101 Dalmatians by Dodie Smith, illustrated by Alex T. Smith

The adorable roly-poly puppies and the terrifying Cruella De Vil are brought vividly to life by illustrator Alex T. Smith in this new edition of Dodie Smith's much-loved story.

Katy by Jacqueline Wilson

Tracy Beaker and Hetty Feather fans will love feisty, energetic Katy Carr, whose life changes dramatically after a terrible accident. Wilson's remastering of Susan Coolidge's 1872 novel breathes new life into an old favourite.

Liked this? Try these:

Best new books for Christmas: Teens

 Best new books for Christmas: Picture books

Best new books for Christmas: 5-8 year olds


Last updated: over 2 years ago