Things I Have Drawn at the Zoo
by Tom Curtis
This is the ultimate gift for that friend with an odd sense of humour. The premise is simple, but the result is horrifying. Artist Tom Curtis has two sons, 8-year-old Dom and 6-year-old Al. Like their father, they enjoy drawing. Like most children, their efforts are full of enthusiasm and rather a lot of creative licence. Tom has taken his sons drawings and redrafted them in photorealisitc style with amusing, peculiar and sometimes horrifying results. Originally appearing online, this edition brings the best of previously published pictures together with brand new material that guarantees you’ll never look at children’s drawings the same again.
by Brian Coldrick
This is another book I’ve got as part of the gift season, though to be honest it’s the sort of thing I would order anyway. It’s also a bit hard to describe. It’s a book of pictorial stories, a collection of one-panel horror stories. Each story is one picture, and each picture is a story unto itself. Funny, quirky and disturbing with inspiration drawn from scary movies, fireside tales, urban legends, ghost stories and things that go bump in the night. Some of the stories are endings your own dark thoughts will back fill while others are start points for grim speculation. Clever and more than a little odd, this is one for anyone who wants to go on a journey through the morbid and frightening parts of their own imagination.
Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy Omnibus – A Trilogy in Five Parts
by Douglas Adams
While the Hitchhikers Guide books obviously aren’t new, this edition is and has a lot to recommend it both for fans who may be looking to replace old copies as well as for new readers who want to find out what the fuss is all about. Firstly it’s the most complete edition available in paperback, and includes all five of the Hitchhiker books as well as the short story Young Zaphod Plays it Safe. A special feature at the back of the book offers to readers an insight into a real event that could easily have come from the books themselves. The publishers of the American edition of Life, The Universe and Everything had an issue with a particular line or rather a word in that line. In order to appease them, one word had to become an entire conversation. It’s hilarious and absurd and well worth reading, so I won’t spoil it here. The other noteworthy thing about this edition is how compact it is. Coming in at a bit over 700 pages, it’s a bit thick but at standard paperback size it’s no bigger than you usual epic fantasy novel and has all of the Hitchhiker books and has a RRP or $29.99. As a reader and as a bookseller I’ve wanted an edition like this for years and I’m pretty sure others have too.
Father Christmas’s Fake Beard
by Terry Pratchett
While Terry Pratchett‘s illness was well known to his fans his death in 2015 was nevertheless a blow to many of his readers, who knew they would never get to read another new Terry Pratchett book. What many of them didn’t know was that he’d been writing for a while before he came up with the Discworld. Over the past few years these earlier works have been making their way to the shelves. Last year we had The Witch’s Vacuum Cleaner and the year before The Dragons of Crumbling Castle. This year’s book is the very appropriate Father Christmas’s Fake Beard. It’s a collection of eleven short stories with Christmas themes. As with the other two books, it’s written for a much younger age group than his later work, but no less charming for that. Also like the other two, it’s illustrated by Mark Beech in a style that reminds me of the work Quentin Blake did for Roald Dahl‘s books. The final thing I’ll say about this book, and the other two I’ve mentioned is that there is something about them that only Discworld fans will understand. Characters like Granny Weatherwax, The Librarian, The Patrician and Rincewind didn’t just jump onto the page fully formed they seem to have been gestating in Terry’s mind for years. Proof of this is the shadows of future characters you find in these, his earliest works. Some you’ll spot right away, others you’ll have to be paying close attention. In any event it’s an interesting insight. This is beautiful little hardcover and lavishly illustrated and is a great gift for an adult Pratchett fan or a young reader you’d like to turn into one.
The Vacation Guide to the Solar System
by Olivia Koski
Most, if not all, science fiction fans are space geeks to some degree, and while I don’t generally carry much in the way of non-fiction this one was just too cool not to get. It’s also a great gift for anyone with a space fixation who may not feel up to tackling more serious books. The book is basically a travel guide to the Solar System, presented in the same way as any other commercial travel guide. What to see, what to do, what to pack as well as all the usual travel tips. What makes this book so interesting is that all of the information is based on real science. Sunset on Venus? What the book describes is what you’d really see according to the experts. Told in a light and easy to read style, like a travel guide, this book nevertheless has an amazing wealth of information about the planets of the solar system as well a loads of pictures, diagrams and maps. If you’re a science trivia fan then this is a treasure trove of fascinating tidbits, like the fact that there is an area of Pluto called The Cthulhu Region after the works of H P Lovecraft, but which is really shaped more like a whale.
Beginning of the World in the Middle of the Night
by Jen Campbell
This is the sort of book I love to read but struggle to describe. It’s a collection of strange, whimsical and sometimes unsettling short stories that remind me a little of Neil Gamian, a little of Etgar Kheret, a touch of Borges, with a bit of folk-lore, fairy tale and a magic all of its own. Inside you’ll find hearts for sale online, mermaids on display at an aquarium, a boy who thinks his sister has two souls, mini-apocalypses and spirits trapped in jam jars and more. While I’m sure most fantasy fans would enjoy it, this book has a wider appeal and is for anyone who likes a story that’s a clever, charming and more than a little odd. It’s also a beautifully presented hardcover that would make a great gift.