Christmas is a time of many contradictions, a time when while people preach love and charity, they also embrace excess in many forms, and this is something I personally find hard to reconcile. Gift shopping can also be a trying time, which often leaves me frustrated, a bit angry with the meaningless of it all and not at all in a festive mood. However, this year, two picturebooks might appease at least some of the fretting of people who might feel the same way I do, because as well as gifting the joy of story, buying these books supports worthy causes.
Refuge is a retelling of the Nativity story, but don’t let this be something that puts you off. Amongst the pages of this book, there are no names; there are no miracles. Just a man, his wife and their baby born in a stable, relying on the kindness of strangers on their long journey. A family whom most will recognise of course but who in this story are only defined by what they are, refugees, and not what they are about to become. Anne Booth’s text is striking with its simplicity and beauty; using the donkey as narrator brings a sense of closeness to the action, but also a matter-of-factness which matches the purpose of the tale perfectly. Sam Usher’s artwork is stunning and so evocative; using ink and watercolours, the limited palette of greys and orange helps convey the darkness of the journey and the hope that lies ahead. Refuge is a poignant story which is sadly very current, which demonstrates with buckets of humanity the plight of refugees and the dangers of misjudging them.
Refuge was put together in matter of weeks and all proceeds (£5 per copy) will go to War Child and support their efforts to care for Syrian children refugees in camps in Northern Iraq and Jordan and other children suffering from conflict too. You can read more about the story behind Refuge here and find out more about War Child here.
Unless you have been living under a rock, I guess you will have at least heard of Sainsbury’s Christmas advert featuring what is possibly the most beloved cat in British children’s literature, Judith Kerr’s Mog. The narrative of the advert is adapted in a new Mog picturebook produced exclusively for Sainsbury’s. In the book, Mog, in the midst of a nightmare, inadvertently sets fire to the Thomas’ home. But when reality hits that Christmas might just be cancelled, the neighbours rally around to ensure every one can enjoy the festive day. Mog’s Christmas Calamity is full of nostalgia, for the Mog books of course but also for much simpler Christmas celebrations of times gone by. There is always something almost dream-like in Kerr’s artwork for the Mog books and this adds to the charm of the tale. Kindness, sharing and looking out for each other take centre stage in this charming festive picturebook.
Sainsbury’s is supporting Save the Children during their Christmas is for Sharing campaign. All profits of the sales of the book (which is at least £2 per book) will therefore go to Save the Children to improve child literacy in the UK. You can read more about Sainsbury’s involvement with Save the Children here.