Top Texts for November

Annie Everall selects text that brings stories, poetry and illustration to life.

The Night After Christmas

by Kes Gray and illustrated by Claire Powell

Have you ever wondered what Father Christmas does after Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are over? Well now that all the presents have been safely delivered, Santa and his elves enjoy their own festivities on Boxing Day. The Owls deliver a giant cracker filled with fun things, which everyone pulls, Mrs Klaus switches on the Northern Lights to brighten the party sky, the reindeer show off their dance moves and everyone makes merry, before starting the 364 day countdown until the next Christmas Eve.

A rich, rhyming text, accompanied by bright vibrant illustrations full of humour, make this a picture book perfect for reading aloud to KS1 and KS2 children. A hilarious follow up to The Night Before the Night Before Christmas, from the author of the Oi Frog series.

Dear Ugly sisters and Other Poems

by Laura Mucha and illustrated by Tania Ray

Poetry provides a wonderful opportunity for reading aloud to children and this excellent debut collection has something for everyone. Fresh, original and full of a delightful mixture of the fun and the serious, these will have children aged 6 – 12, both laughing and reflecting. Rich in language and rhythm. the collection enjoys surprising the reader, with many shape and puzzle poems and pokes fun at fairytales, with versions offering a twist. The book’s themes include nature, science, space plus emotions and feelings and it will also be a really useful book for supporting empathy.

Although it was very hard to choose, because they all offer something special to the collection, some of my personal favourites were Bottled Up, The Land of Blue, the concrete poem Lunch with the birds and Dear Ugly Sisters, which sees Cinderella getting her own back! I particularly liked the fact that some of the poems include information about the subject e.g. Flemings Petri Dish has information about Alexander Fleming and what he did. The back cover has a QR code which can be scanned by a smartphone and gives a free audiobook, making the cover price very good value. Laura’s website also has videos of her performing some of her poems. She is a brilliant performance poet who works in schools and has had poems included in many anthologies. This first solo collection is one to own and to enjoy sharing with children.

The Miracle on Ebenezer Street

by Catherine Doyle and Illustrated by Pedro Riquelme

Three years ago George’s mum died in a car accident on Christmas Eve. Since then his dad Hugo has cancelled Christmas entirely, much to George and his Nana Flo’s sadness. Then one day George stumbles upon Marley’s Curiosity Shop and in it he finds a mysterious snow globe that seems to show a scene from a past Christmas, a time when he and his family were happy and celebrating. What he doesn’t know is that ”Old Marley’s magic leaked out” and that night he and his Dad and intrepid Nana Flo are swept away on an adventure, visiting a past, present and future Christmas, along with Randolph the purple reindeer and Trixie the miniature elf who somehow always manages to cause chaos!!

This is a heart-warming, modern re-imagining of A Christmas Carol and I absolutely LOVED it. It has a wonderful cast of characters, is full of magic and humour, but also deals very sensitively with the issues of grief. There is something almost ‘Narniaesque’ about it and it is definitely in my top 5 books I’ve read this year. There are 26 chapters and It would be the perfect book to read a daily chapter, to a class, in the weeks leading up to Christmas.


About this month's reviewer

Annie Everall is Director of Authors Aloud UK, an agency that brings stories, poetry and illustration to life through arranging physical and virtual author visits to schools. Annie is also a qualified children’s librarian, having worked for Birmingham and Derbyshire Libraries and a children’s book reviewer. She’s passionate about helping children and young people discover the magic of reading. To find out more visit: and follow her on twitter @read4eva @authorsalouduk