Once again we are on that countdown to the Christmas season and with the major publishing Thursday at the beginning of October we began to see all of the winter offerings arriving.
“Wolf in the Snow” by Matthew Cordell is a delightful story of a young child and a young wolf cub who both become lost in a dangerous snow storm. They find and support each other in finding their respective homes and show that helping each other is definitely the way to go. The book is almost wordless, with just the odd wolf howl, or a groan from the child, however the emotive and really strong illustrations give us all the information we need to interpret the story. A great book for reading on a one to one basis with the younger child.
“The Snow Dragon” by Abi Elphinstone and Fiona Woodcock. What a truly magical story with totally dreamlike illustrations to bring the story to life. Phoebe is the final child living at Griselda Bone’s orphanage and longs to find her forever family but she did not reckon on her snowman turning into an ice dragon and taking her off on an adventure to see the northern lights and other wonders she had only seen in books. There are glorious illustrations and an ending that will give everyone a very seasonal glow.
“A home in the Snow” by Peter Bently and Charles Fuge is not specifically a Christmas story, but it is about winter, friendship and giving. Bramble the Badger wants to share his birthday with his friends, but they all seem to have forgotten his special day. When they ask for help to go to another friend’s house, he willingly helps and there is a truly delightful surprise for him when they arrive at their destination.
“One Wild Christmas” by Nicholas Oldland features the wonderful characters of Moose, Bear and Beaver as they try and find a tree to decorate for Christmas. When the do find one they hit a problem; Bear loves their beautiful tree and will not allow the others to cut it down, so how are they going to celebrate the holiday? Bear comes up with a solution and with a lot of hard work and some sharing they manage to have a celebration that reflects the true meaning of the festivities.
“Mouse’s Night before Christmas” by Tracey Corderoy and Sarah Massini is a heart warming tale that take as its starting point the famous story by Clement C Moore. Only in this version the mouse becomes the central character, helping Santa deliver presents after the reindeer became lost. How Santa grants him his greatest wish makes for a perfect ending and will help the book become a favourite for every Christmas.
“Father Christmas and the Donkey” by Elizabeth Clark and Ari Tokinen. This is a wonderful story about the true message of Christmas. A donkey has been left out in the snowy weather and is making his way to find shelter when all of a sudden he hears bells and then sees a figure trudging through the snow; it is Father Christmas and he is about to deliver the last presents before going home, having already sent his reindeer back. The donkey volunteers to help deliver the presents and begins to understand the joy of giving and sharing. The ending find the donkey having a gift that will happy and loved for the rest of his days.
“The Crayons’ Christmas” by Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers sees the crayons preparing for the great day. Some of them have gone on holiday and send messages to their owner Duncan and the other crayons, whilst others have been busily shopping for presents. Yet again we have brilliant illustrations, and also an amazing set of envelopes full of festive surprises. this is bound to become an annual favourite for the young and not so young.
“The Most-loved Bear” by Sam McBratney and Sam Usher is the story of a much loved bear who was lost on a train and went through many years of adventures, moving between owners and gradually getting more worn. However he never gives up and eventually there is a miraculous reunion with his original beloved owner. This is the sort of story that gives you a warm Christmas feeling and will be perfect for those of us who have a favourite teddy or toy from our childhood.
“Meerkat Christmas” by Emily Gravett sees the meerkats preparing for Christmas, but Sunny has been reading about the ‘perfect’ holiday and decides that the Kalahari Desert is not the place for a real Christmas. He sets off to find the perfect ingredients: snow, singing, tree, presents and dinner, but nowhere has all of them. When Sunny falls asleep on Christmas Eve it is Father Christmas who grants him the wish he really wants – to be home with his family. One again Emily Gravett has produced a glorious book that I absolutely loved and which should be in everyone’s’ Christmas collection
“Countdown to Christmas” by Adam and Charlotte Guillain, and Pippa Curnick is a delightful countdown to the festivities. One day Bear announces that he has made a Christmas game and everyday leading up to the great day he will choose an animal and give them each a gift. Young mouse is desperate to get something but becomes increasingly despondent as others are chosen, however on Christmas eve he is given a box and nestling within it is a lovely star. Bear leads him to the clearing in the wood where all their friends have collected, having decorated and used their gifts to dress up for a nativity play. A wonderful story told in rhyme that children will love.
“Mimi and the Mountain Dragon” by Michael Morpurgo and Helen Stephens tells the story of a young Swiss girl Mimi who finds a baby dragon hiding in the woodshed at Christmas. She bravely climbs the mountain to reach the castle where the mother dragon live and reunites the two animals. However they are then startled by an avalanche that basically covers Mimi’s village burying everyone, including her parents. It is only with the help of the dragon that they are able to clear the snow and release the trapped villagers. The event is meant to have happened hundreds of years ago but it still forms the basis of a winter celebration in the village. It is a magical story about friendship and understanding and has been adapted for the stage.
“The Night Before the Night Before Christmas” by Kes Gray and Claire Powell is a look behind the scenes at the north pole on the day before Christmas Eve. The Elves are working their socks off, Santa is ticking his list and the reindeer are waking up and feeding themselves in preparation for the great night, but Santa is sure that he has forgotten something important. It is only after he has taken off on his round that Mrs Claus shouts to let him know that he has forgotten to shave! Which is why we always see him with a bushy beard. This is a truly delightful and funny story that is told in rhyme and is a real pleasure to read out loud.
“A Cat’s Christmas carol” by Sam Hay and Helen Shoesmith. Clawdia has an important job as the night watchman’s cat in a large department store. On Christmas Eve everyone goes home, but she is left guarding the building and soon finds herself in a battle of wits with some very small and very cold mice. She chases them through departments full of Christmas decorations until finally they see an artificial cat patrolling the store. Feeling let down, Clawdia joins the mice in trying to enjoy the festivities but then in a truly lovely moment her owner tells her that the robot is her present and that Clawdia will be going home for Christmas with the family.
As you can see there are some really amazing books out there this year and I am sure that they will become family and library favourites in the coming years. I hope that everyone has a great time and that the true spirit of Christmas can be found wherever you find yourselves.