There are so many wonderful Christmas themed books available at this time of year but I do think Christmas is also a great time to introduce children with some classic tales. Here are a few, all re-imagined visually, which you might want to consider.



A story full of dogs and illustrator Alex T. Smith were always going to be a match made in heaven, and many of us were delighted to hear he was to illustrate Dodie Smith’s magical The Hundred and One Dalmatians (Egmont). It really does not disappoint: the dogs (of all shapes and sizes) are delicious, Mr and Mrs Dearly suitably stylish and gloriously retro, and Cruella de Vil looks hilarious and utterly unhinged. Alex T. Smith brings new life and his own sense of humour and quirkness to this  wonderful tale and the result is just glorious.
Everyone has read at least one Enid Blyton’s book during their childhood, right? Regardless of what we, as adults, think of her, she brings a dose of magic and adventure which is unrivaled in many ways. This new Enid Blyton’s Magical Treasury (Hodder Children’s Books) is fully illustrated by Emma Chichester-Clark and is an absolute delight. A mix of monochrome and full-colour drawing brings the stories compiled by Norman Wright and Mary Cadogan to life in a truly enchanting way. The cover is particularly stunning.
If you have not come across the Usborne Illustrated Originals, a series of beautiful illustrated editions of much loved classics with gorgeous padded covers, they are well worth a look. I first fell in love with their lovely Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (see here) and since I have been quite taken by their gorgeous edition of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum and illustrated by Lorena Alvarez. What makes this series so wonderful is how accessible and child-friendly it makes classics look, and this is thanks to a very careful choice of illustrator. Alvarez’s rendition of Oz is wonderfully colourful and convey all the magic found within the text.
Talking about Alice, two other illustrated versions came out after my features earlier this year: Rebecca Dautremer’s Alice in Wonderland (Hodder Children’s Books) is sublime in a way that only Dautremer can deliver. She has been the queen of illustration in France for many years, with over forty books to her name, and hopefully her slightly dark, stylish and very Dautremer-esque Wonderland will win her many fans in the UK. The second, Classics Reimagined: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (Rockport) is illustrated by Andrea D’Aquino and might be more an adult’s cup of tea, as its striking watercolours mixed with collage help express the more ‘crazed’ side of Wonderland. The colours are wonderful, and the printed paper edges make this already stunning volume all the more special.
Saki is one of these authors that a lot of teenagers would really love if only there were given the opportunity to read some of his work, which is funny, satiric, eccentric and very dark at times. Alma Classics’ new edition of Gabriel-Ernest along with other of his short stories is therefore very much welcome, particularly with the addition of Sir Quentin Blake’s artwork. It is definitely worth checking out for fans of the macabre, though definitely more suitable for older readers.
Finally, few would argue these days the statement that Philip Pullman’s Northern Lights is indeed a classic. In 2014,  a French adaptation in graphic novel form was released and this year it has finally been translated (back?) into English. Northern Lights: The Graphic Novel Volume One (Doubleday) is adapted by Stéphane Melchior, illustrated by Clément Oubrerie (with additional colouring by  Philippe Bruno) and translated by Annie Eaton, and is a the first part in a three-volume graphic adaptation which brings Lyra’s home of Oxford and her subsequent journey to life in a really unexpected way. It works wonderfully, and can be enjoyed alongside or independently from Pullman’s original text.


Source: review copies from publishers