Every year I indulge in a little Christmas/winter reading to get me in the mood for the festive season. This year has been no exception with the highlights being Matt Haig, Tracey Corderoy and Alex T Smith; although all of these books will get you into the required mood.
“The Truth Pixie” by Matt Haig and Chris Mould. Over the last three years we have been treated to a series of three books based on the origins of Father Christmas. One of the central characters in each story is the Truth Pixie who is subject to the mixed blessing of not being able to tell a lie. In this delightful rhyming tale for younger children she discovers a new friend, makes that person happy and brings a bit of magic into the life of everyone who reads this tale. It is an absolute classic of the future.
“Hampstead the Hamster” by Michael Rosen is another story for younger children, those from 5+ . The hero Leo had always wanted a pet Hamster and eventually he gets his wish. However Hampstead (the hamster) is very sad and just seems to sulk in his cage. Leo tries everything to cheer him up, but nothing works; then Leo sees his pet running on the spot in the cage and gets a brilliant idea – hamsters love wheels and it would make a great Christmas present. Some great aaah! moments for everyone.
“How Winston delivered Christmas” by Alex T Smith is an absolutely delightful story told in “twenty four and a half chapters”. It is about how a young mouse called Winston discovers a letter to Father Christmas, on Christmas Eve, and decides he will try and make sure that the letter is delivered. This is a glorious story full of Christmas spirit and one which is bound to become something of a festive ritual in many homes.
“The Christmas Extravaganza Hotel” by Tracey Corderoy and Tony Neal. What a fantastically funny story, full of friendship and sharing. When frog mis-reads his map and ends up on the opposite side of the world from his Christmas hotel he is helped by Bear, who does everything he can to make the holiday memorable. This proved an absolute winner when I read it to six classes on one day and it leaves you with a warm glow.
“The Snowman” by Michael Morpurgo and Robin Shaw, based on the classic story by Raymond Briggs. This is a really lovely extended version of the Snowman story and will be great for those who want to read something slightly longer.
“Grandpa Christmas” by Michael Morpurgo and Jim Field. This is a heartwarming story with a strong message for all of us. Mia and her family read a very special letter from her grandfather every Christmas, just after they have opened their presents. In this letter he talks about the need to care for our world and to make sure that we do our best to make it a good place for our descendants and for the creatures that we share the world with. So thought provoking and magical.
“Silent Night” by Lara Hawthorne is a joyous re-telling of the Nativity story, using the words of the famous carol “Silent Night” The illustrations are bright and simple and can be enjoyed by children of all ages. The book also explains how the carol came to be written. It is a really delightful way for children to learn this song on the lead up to Christmas.
“Santa’s Wonderful Workshop” by Elys Dolan is a totally hilarious look at what can go wrong when Santa brings in some new helpers to make enough presents for Christmas. The illustrations are full of jokes will keep young readers amused for hours; it will also keep the adults chuckling as they read the story.
“Snow in the Garden” by Shirley Hughes is a gorgeous collection of stories, poems, recipes and decorations from one of the country’s most beloved writers and illustrators. this is one for both home and school and you will dip into it year after year.
The Night I met Father Christmas” by Ben Miller and Daniela Jaglenka Terrazzini is a very different take on the legend of Father Christmas. It gives you hope that no one is beyond redemption and really oozes Christmas spirit.
“Frost” by Holly Webb is a magical tale of London, both now and in the 17th century, so if you like an element of time travel, wonderful animals and family tales you will love this.
Other picture books to look out for this year are:
“Pick a Pine Tree” by Patricia Toht and Jarvis
“I was made for you” by David Lucas
“Once upon a Snowstorm” by Richard Johnson
“Christmas Gremlins” by Adam and Charlotte Guillain, with Chris Chatterton
Whilst Christmas 2018 has now gone, these are great additions to your collection which will keep you ahead of the game for the coming year. I am now looking at Easter and some great picture books that have appeared in the past few months. There is some fantastic reading ahead.