Some festive reading (2): picturebooks
Every Autumn comes a new wave of Christmas picturebooks, from reissued classic to all singing and dancing novelty books. Here is a small selection of some that have caught my eye.
Similarly to Refuge and Mog’s Christmas Calamity (see my review here), there is something quite special about the message conveyed in The Christmas Eve Tree by Delia Huddy and Emily Sutton (Walker Books). A homeless little boy finds a small scraggly little fir tree and takes it back to where he and his friends sleep outside. After decorating the tree, they sing carols and bring Christmas cheer and spirit to passers-by. Despite its rather dark theme ( a homeless boy will undoubtedly lead to many questions from little readers) there is hope within these pages, and particularly hope for new beginnings. Sutton’s use of colour is stunning and full of retro details which makes her artwork appealing to both children and adults alike. The scene inside the department store is particularly stunning.
No one can create Christmas scenes like Shirley Hughes does and at long last, Lucy and Tom At Christmas (Red Fox) has been reissued after being out of print for many years. Hughes excels at creating idyllic scenes while still showing children as they really are – messy, grumpy, impatient. This book oozes nostalgia and the simple pleasures in life of times gone by (there is not TV in sight). Yet her books are never dated and always bring an almost unexplainable comfort to us all.
Sibling relationships are not always easy, particularly when one is very quiet and the other very chatty, which is the case for the two adorable sisters in Christmas with Greta and Gracie by Yasmeen Ismail (Nosy Crow). Both Greta and Gracie are very excited at the prospect of Christmas, but Greta is so excited she won’t stop talking and her little sister Gracie just cannot get a word in edgeways. But sometimes being small and quiet is just the ticket, which leads Gracie to make a very special encounter on Christmas Eve. Vibrant with colour, this is such a fun, joyous book which many little people will relate to. But even those without a Greta or Gracie in their lives will love Ismail’s portrayal of the build up to Christmas Day. It is utterly wonderful.
Niroot Puttapipat’s pop-up version of The Night before Christmas is our edition of choice for the annual Christmas Eve reading (you can read my review here), and his version of Jingle Bells (Walker Books) is beautifully dainty. His elegant silhouette illustrations and lace-like intricate pop-up elements create a beautiful old-fashionedly stylish book. The book is available in small and large format, and a similar version of the The Nutcracker is also available.