Monday, 19 December 2016

Warmest Winter Wishes from the Picture Book Den!

Season's greetings to all our readers!

It's hard to choose just one book each, but these are our favourite picture books for this time of year. We hope you'll love them too, and add your favourite to our list in the comments.


Jane Clarke


A lot of people will know Mog’s Christmas, by the wonderful Judith Kerr, from the new edition last year. It was first published in 1976, but this is the 1978 Picture Lions edition I read to my (then) small sons. We especially enjoyed it because my mum and dad’s cat never knew quite what to make of a Christmas tree. Now I’m the Grandma, It gives me enormous pleasure to read the same copy to my granddaughters - and granddog!


Jonathan Emmett


My family and I are big Dr. Seuss fans and Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas is a longstanding festive favourite in the Emmett household. I think that many, if not most, of the readers to this blog will already be familiar with it. Just in case you aren’t – it tells the story of a magnificently misanthropic creature who hates Christmas so much that he steals every last trace of it (gifts, decorations, food) in a brilliantly orchestrated Christmas Eve raid on his local town. You’ll have to read the book yourselves if you want to know if it has a happy ending.
Like all of Seuss’s books, the story is told in a funny, beautifully-crafted rhyme that reads perfectly aloud. However Seuss does cheat a little with the following couplet:
“And he stuffed them in bags. Then the Grinch, very nimbly,
Stuffed all the bags, one by one, up the chimbley!”
But you’d have to be a Grinch yourself not to smile at this!


Michelle Robinson

Muesli rejects your glad tidings.

Muesli the cat couldn't be less bothered about Father Christmas by Raymond Briggs. She is totally unimpressed by all the illustrated details of his house at the North Pole. She isn't remotely curious about what he gives the Queen, or what he's wrapped up for his own pet cat at the end. If she could quote Raymond Briggs' Santa, she'd say,"Merry bloomin' Christmas." As it is, she can't even bring herself to meow.


Abie Longstaff



We love How Santa Really Works by the appropriately named Alan Snow. It's a lot of fun and includes answers to pressing questions such as 'how does Santa fit down the chimney?' and others. It also has a wonderful cross-section of Santa's sleigh (who doesn't love a cross-section?). The book is a messy, detailed, mechanical joy.

Pippa Goodhart

Five Silly Snowmen by Steve Lenton,
published by Little Tiger Press

Five Silly Snowmen is a Christmas book that I only discovered last year, long after my grown-up children gave an excuse for me to enjoy such things. This time I was buying a book to read, along with a whole lot more, to my local Home-Start group's party for pre-school children. I shared a range of books, but this was the one that got asked for again and again. Bright and simple and silly, this is a counting rhyme -
One silly snowman is splashing in the sea. Two speedy snowmen are racing round a tree,' etc. And it ends with them all five snowmen tucked up in bed.
I shall be reading stories at this year's Christmas party, and this book is top of the pile for it! Happy Christmas! PS The cat is called Dotsy.

Chitra Soundar

Stick Man by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler
published by Scholastic Books

Stick Man has stood the test of time in my nephew’s Christmas routine. Other Christmas books have come and gone. But Stick Man is a staple. The rhymes, the rhythm, the muddles and the troubles – the situations are tense as much as they are funny.
However the biggest joy of the story is when Santa is introduced as Stuck Man. Like all good picture books and those especially by Julia Donaldson, the story has layers that you can experience each time you read. And you will read it many, many times.
If you come to our house for a Christmas party, the entertainment includes a demonstration of how Stick Man helped Stuck Man get out of the fireplace.

Paeony Lewis

Spud doesn't think the Three Wise Men in this story are very wise.
Don't they know bones make the best gift?

When the children were young we had huge fun sharing Jesus' Christmas Party by Nicholas Allan (published by Random House). Now my children are adults so I'm left with Spud the dog and he's unimpressed by the lack of bones in the story. Never mind, I appreciate the cheeky humour of a tired innkeeper growing more and more frustrated at the goings on in his stable - all the innkeeper wants is a good night's sleep! The story is a mischievous, animated delight to read aloud and it ends charmingly, proving that even a two-thousand-year-old nativity story can be retold in a fresh, new way.


Juliet Clare Bell

Melrose and Croc by Emma Chichester Clark

When they were young, my children loved Emma Chichester Clark's Blue Kangaroo. But Melrose and Croc is by far my favourite of her books. Melrose and Croc are both lonely at Christmas and it takes them a while to find each other, but when they do (and spoiler alert – it's in time for Christmas Day), it's just lovely.

Natascha Biebow


Our personal favourite is Olivia Helps with Christmas by Ian Flaconer. It is such a laugh! The author artfully captures all the joys of waiting for Santa, family traditions and spices it up with humour for children and grown-ups. We never tire of reading it over and over again. Is Santa here yet?!



Do let us know your old or new picture-book favourites for this festive time of year.
Our next blog post will be Monday 2 January, 2017 - a new year filled with new books!

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