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Children's Books: Wimpy Kids and Skeleton Detectives -- it must be Christmas!

Sarah Webb's guide to the best children's books to buy as presents this year.

Age 8+

1 Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Cabin Fever by Jeff Kinney, Puffin, €9.99

The most popular wimpy kid in the world (he's getting to be as big as Harry Potter) is back in his sixth adventure. In this one he's in big trouble. School property has been damaged and he's the prime suspect.

But the crazy thing is, he's innocent! Or at least sort of.

The authorities are closing in, but then a surprise blizzard hits and the Heffley family is trapped indoors.

Greg knows that when the snow melts he's going to have to face the music, but could any punishment be worse than being stuck inside with your family for the holidays?

2 Skulduggery Pleasant: Death Bringer by Derek Landy, Harpercollins €9.99

The fantasy- horror series about a wise cracking skeleton detective and his Irish teenage sidekick is a hilarious, rip-roaring read.

This is book six in the series, so if your young reader isn't a fan yet, start them at book one.

Series scribe Landy, who used to work on a vegetable farm in Co Dublin, got a €1m advance for the first couple of books from HarperCollins and they are a global hit.

3 Eva's Holiday by Judi Curtin, O'Brien Press, €7.99

Curtin has a deliciously warm touch and this book is perfect for girls of 8+.

Eva loves fashion and hanging out with her friends, so when she has to spend the whole summer in a cottage down the country, she's not happy.

But soon she finds out that there's more to life than clothes and having the right friends. Highly recommended.

4 Three for girls: Marshmallow Skye by Cathy Cassidy, Puffin Books, €11.99;

Sapphire Battersea by Jacqueline Wilson, Random House, €13.99;

The Real Rebecca by Anna Carey, O'Brien Press, €7.99 (age 10+)

Three well written, highly readable novels featuring strong, sparky girl characters. The Real Rebecca won the Senior Children's Category at the Irish Book Awards.

5 Gangsta Granny by David Walliams, Harpercollins, €12.99

Walliams (of Little Britain fame) is being called the 'new Dahl' and Dahl's illustrator, Quentin Blake, provides the witty drawings for this book.

Our hero Ben is bored beyond belief after he is made to stay at his grandma's house.

She's the boringest grandma ever: all she wants to do is to play Scrabble and eat cabbage soup.

But Ben doesn't know that his grandma was once an international jewel thief . . . and with Ben's help she aims to steal the crown jewels

Age 11+

1 The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, Scholastic, €7.99

Although it was first published in 2008, this futuristic fantasy novel for teens will go stratospheric once the movie is released in March.

Katniss Eis representing her District, number 12, in the 74th Hunger Games in the Capitol, the heart of Panem, a new land that rose from the ruins of a post-apocalyptic North America.

To punish citizens for an early rebellion, the rulers require each district to provide one girl and one boy to fight like gladiators in an arena for an event to be broadcast on TV . . .

2 Inheritance by Christopher Paolini, Doubleday, €19.99

The final book featuring Eragon and his dragon, Saphira, will be on many fantasy fan's wish lists this Christmas.

3 Palace of the Damned by Darren Shan, Harpercollins €8.99

Limerick's Prince of Horror is back with the third creepy instal-ment in the Larten Crepsley series.

4 Destined by PC and Kristin Cast, Atom, €12.99;

Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare, Walker Books, €10.99

Two of the best paranormal romances for all Twilight fans.

5 People's Republic by Robert Muchamore, Hachette, €11.99

The latest in the hugely popular Cherub action adventure series featuring teen spies.

Picture Books

There are plenty of wonderful books for the youngest readers this Christmas:

Stuck by Oliver Jeffers, Harpercollins, €10.99

A hardback picture book with stand-out illustrations from the wonderful Belfast author/illustrator, Oliver Jeffers. When Floyd's kite gets stuck up a tree he throws up his shoe to knock it down, but that gets stuck too, along with a pot of paint, a ladder, the kitchen sink, a whale, and many other amazing things.

The Lonely Beast by Chris Judge, Andersen Press, £5.99

Winner of the Junior Section of the Irish Book Awards, 2011, this is a charming book with strong, colourful illustrations. One day a beast sets out to find some friends, with surprising results.

The Highway Rat by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Axel Scheffler, Alison Green Books, €11.99

Young fans of The Gruffalo will love this new rhyming adventure featuring a rather special rat.

*All prices from Easons.

Irish Independent