Australian Authors and their Favourite Christmas Books

Isn’t it a fascinating thing to learn about the favourite books of others? Most especially, I must admit, when it comes to authors, illustrators and publishers – whose world is saturated with so many glorious tomes. Here, KBC shares a glimpse inside the hearts of some well-known talent from the children’s book industry – and learn more about either their favourite Christmas titles or their favourite bookish Christmas gifts. Enjoy!

Applesauce and the Christmas Miracle by Glenda Millard (ABC Books)
Glenda Millard and Stephen Michael King’s gorgeous Applesauce and the Christmas Miracle is an Australian take on the traditional Christmas story, set in the aftermath of bushfires. Glenda’s beautiful language and Stephen’s gentle art make this a story to treasure forever. – Claire Saxby, author

For All Creatures by Glenda Millard (Walker Books)
This beautiful book, by the team who produced Isabella’s Garden, pays homage to all creatures, to love and life, to kindness and gentleness and to the miracle of being alive. The language is rich, tender and warm, and wonderful to read aloud. The superb illustrations (by Rebecca Cool) are dramatic and varied. Every double-page spread is a surprise and a wonder. – Margaret Hamilton, AM, publisher

Look, a Book! by Libby Gleeson (Little Hare)
A truly delightful book from this well-established author and illustrator partnership – Libby Gleeson and Freya Blackwood. It’s about children who find a book which takes them on a wonderful journey, as books can. They love it and care for it so that they can enjoy it again and again. Engaging and evocative. A joy for all those who fear the death of the book! – Margaret Hamilton, AM, publisher

Grug’s Big Book of Fun by Ted Prior (Simon & Schuster Australia)
It’s fabulous that Grug is available again for a whole new generation. New books are extending the series, but this 160-page activity book is a winner. It’s got everything to keep a young child busy: games, mazes, dot-to-dot, drawing, colouring-in, stickers, puzzles. Who could ask for anything more in their Christmas stocking? – Margaret Hamilton, AM, publisher

My suggestions for Christmas books are a little different. How about making WITH the family, your own books?  You can use existing photos, children’s illustrations or even ‘feelie’ collages of stick- on textures like feathers or fur. They can be e-mail (digital) or print or even audio. Make it a non-commercial ‘sharing’ experience, so the collating is as important as the reading. Here are suggested titles: The Best Things About Our Family Christmas,  What Went Wrong at Christmas,  An Unexpected Gift. Grandparents or parents can draw on family historical anecdotes (true or tall storied). Make them a family gift! – Hazel Edwards, author

I would say How the Grinch Stole Christmas! is my favourite Christmas book. I love it because it’s Dr Seuss, and he would have to try very hard to write a book I didn’t like. The Grinch got me in from the moment I read the lines … But I think that the most likely reason of all May have been that his heart was two sizes too small. It is also brilliant how Dr Seuss gets the message that Christmas is so much more than just presents across without getting too syrupy and blecccchhhy. – Adam Wallace, author

I love The Snowman, a children’s book by English author, Raymond Briggs, published in 1978. Most people would know it from the 1982 animated film. The book is wordless and the film is most known for its beautiful theme song, Walking in the Air. The story is joyful, filled with wonderful images of a winter wonderland, a special connection between a small boy (who looks awfully like a child version of the author) and with the feeling of loss at the end when the snowman melts. Beautifully done as only Raymond Briggs can. The movie version inserts a visit to Father Christmas who gives him a scarf – I guess they thought the movie-going public couldn’t cope without a happier ending. – Sheryl Gwyther, author

I adore the perennial and everlasting novel, A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. On the surface it appears to be the story of a miserable, stingy old man, Ebenezer Scrooge who, on Christmas Eve is visited by Jacob Marley and the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come. They show him his present, lonely, friendless life and how it will end if he doesn’t change his ways. The undercurrent of the story shows Dickens’s sympathy for the working poor and the downtrodden of Industrial Capitalism in Britain in the 1800s. Some even say the story, and the various plays spawned by it, helped restore the holiday, the merriment and the festive feel of Christmas in Britain and further afield. The book has never been out of print. – Sheryl Gwyther, author

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Tania McCartney

Tania McCartney is an author of children's books and adult non-fiction. Recent books include Riley and the Grumpy Wombat: A journey around Melbourne, and Australian Story: An Illustrated Timeline. She's also an editor, publisher and founder of Kids Book Review.

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