It's not all about books at Christmas though is it? So I thought it would be fun to put together a gift guide of some of the wonder...

BookBairn's Christmas Gift Guide 2018 - Illustrated Toys

Friday, December 14, 2018 BookBairn 2 Comments

It's not all about books at Christmas though is it? So I thought it would be fun to put together a gift guide of some of the wonderful illustrated toys that I have come across since I started blogging and became more aware of what artists and illustrators do beyond drawing pictures for books! So here are some wonderful things that have been created by illustrators that would make a wonderful addition to a Christmas stocking.

Little Feminist Jigsaw and Cards by Lydia Ortiz

You may remember we started our Little Feminist Book Club after being inspired by the lovely Little Feminist Board Book Box Set by Lydia Ortiz and we love the playing cards and jigsaw! The puzzle is a bit tricky for BookBairn but Daddy and I really enjoyed doing it together once the little hands were asleep and not able to grab at the pieces! And BookBairn has been asking to play snap with the cards over and over. She's getting much better than this video shows but mostly it's fun to be playing these sorts of games together. Traditional games make for the most fun! Both these games are perfect for sitting down as a family together and playing - the cards would be perfect for Go Fish, Happy Families or Pairs too! I also see that they have a set of cards for pairs and a box of magnets too. The illustrations are absolutely perfect. They are bright, colourful and simplistic enough for the littlest readers turning our heroes into characters they can enjoy. They are instantly recognisable and, whilst simple, they are incredibly stylish. So they make a wonderful gift!
(Having just checked - the jigsaw appears to be sold out on Amazon but you can still find it in bookshops and other online retailers.) 

Story Box by Claudia Boldt

Do you have a little storyteller in your house? BookBairn is now picking up her books and telling the stories from the pictures, and if it's a book we've not read together yet she makes her own story up. So these storytelling cards are a brilliant resource for opening her imagination and creating our own stories together. There are 20 puzzle-pieces (printed on both sides) so you can put together your own adventure in any order and make it different each time. I love this concept!! This set features a polar bear setting sail for the Caribbean, meeting animal pals along the way, encountering pirates, a tornado and a tortoise's birthday party. We love Claudia Boldt's illustrations so we are enjoying making up our own stories about her characters - we already have the matching set 'Animals at Home' and some books by the illustrator! Her artwork is bold and bright and the characters are great fun! I've also linked some of the other story boxes at the bottom of the post as they too are by lovely illustrators!

I Saw it First! Jungle by Caroline Selmes

We have become rather fascinated by a new game that was sent by a publisher which not only makes books but also the most fantastic illustrated games. We have had games from them in the past and have really enjoyed them but I Saw it First! Jungle has become a whole family hit! With a board featuring 300 different species of animal, some of which are very similar, and 300 game cards, the object of the game is very simple: be the one who spots the animal first. Except it's trickier than it sounds! With six gameboard pieces the gameboard changes with every set-up. And a box full of 300 pieces means you are hardly likely to get the same animals very often! Add to the mix a very observant BookBairn who is an keen animal enthusiast and it's a game of level-pegging! The illustrations are great and BookBairn loves looking at them and describing the animals so it's also great for her knowledge as well as building descriptive vocabulary. But mostly it's a competitive sport. Daddy BookBairn and I have even played after the kids have gone to bed (I beat him 30-17 in case you were wondering!). It's fun for everyone!

Wow! Never has a game been quite so popular in our house - BookBairn has played this over and over since she got it - she's played it with me, her daddy, her grandma and even one of our friend's who really popped by for a cuppa and a catch up with the grown ups but was so good to play with BookBairn too! Its' a simple concept - match the animal sound to the animal picture. But with clever use of typography BookBairn can 'read' many of the words and match it to the right animal without help. For us, there are a few too many cards (50 in total) making the game a little long so we either just use half or we play picture side up so she can match them easily. With bold colours and dynamic graphics this game is lots of fun! 

Nesting dolls by Suzy Ultman

One of the most beautiful illustrated toys that we love, and play with the most, is a set of beautiful nesting dolls. I bought these for BookBairn after my grandfather gave me some money for her for a birthday and I thought they were quite expensive but since it was a gift for him I wanted to get her the most beautiful set of dolls I could find. And we love these. So incredibly much. They are one of the most played with items in our house. Over and over. BookBairn hides all sorts of things inside as she plays. She lines them up. She nests them back inside each other. And now The Wee Page Turner plays with them too. Suzy Ultman is an incredible artist! I love her designs! These dolls are incredibly beautiful (and available to buy here). 

Djeco Stacking Tower

Last year for Christmas I saw this beautiful stacking tower in our local bookshop window and I went straight inside to get it for The Wee Page Turner. The colours and design are beautiful and I love the added element of having the little toy animals to put inside each box. And he loves it! It's hard to beat a stacking tower as a gift for little ones and I think this one is beautiful.

You can see the tower in the background here.

Make Your Own Farm by Anna Kovecses

This is a brilliant gift where little ones can build their very own farm. Simply pop out the pieces and clot them together. The illustrations are lovely and I love the use of slightly off colours and shades (the bull has a purplish tint and some of the sheep are definitely a pinkish wool) making them a little more interesting. The characters have neutral faces allowing children to project their emotions as they play and have the sweetest little outfits. The attention to detail is exquisite. Perhaps the best part is the tractor with removable trailer. This is the bit that BookBairn plays with most. She changes the driver, loads up different animals on to the trailer and moves it around the farm. Lots and lots of fun. This is a gift that will keep on giving as BookBairn gets older - the pieces seem quite durable (although if your child plays roughly it's probably not one for them and better stick with plastic or wooden farms) so we hope to get lots of play. As BookBairn gets older her imaginative play is more interesting and with lovely toys like this the possibilities are endless.

I hope you have found a beautifully illustrated gift for your little ones.

And if you want any specific recommendations please feel free to get in touch! All our social media links are in the header at the top of the blog - or you can just search 'bookbairn' to find us!

I've also just added an illustrated toys section to my amazon shop with some of the best toys for little ones including many that I haven't listed here so do pop over and have a look.

You can find it here: BookBairn's Amazon Shop.

Happy Christmas Shopping,
Kim and the elves xx

Disclaimer: these are all my choices. Some were sent from publishers but they were not sent in connection with this post. Their inclusion here is my choice. Because I really do think they are great. Please read our review policy if you want to know more. If you click on the title or image of the book you will be sent to using an affiliate link. This means that if you choose to purchase on, I will receive a small sum (around 20-90p per book) from amazon at no extra cost to you. I understand that you may not want to use an affiliate link, but if you like reading our blog please just think of it as a small tip for a tip-off to an awesome book. And know that your support means I can buy more books! For more information check out our 'For Our Readers' section.


  1. This is a great set of toys and games. “I saw it first” is great fun and not as easy as BookBairn makes it look. She loves to win and I know where she gets that from.

    1. I have no idea what you mean! She's better at it than me - and The Wee Page Turner is now getting in on the action - he can find the duck!!