The tinsel is hung, the carols are sung. Tchaikovsky’s, The Nutcracker courses merrily in the background and hope hovers amidst every batch of gingerbread cookies. There’s no doubt, Christmas is well and truly upon us. However, if you are still in search of a meaningful Christmas tale to share with your young ones, consider these. They are all full of heart and soul and more than just a little good old-fashioned Christmas magic.
Dim’s Pick of the Season
If you are ever in need of a little magic, if you ever find yourself questioning reason, if your festive spirit is ever waning, hope is here, with Matt Haig. This is superb storytelling for midgrade readers all the way through to 99-year-olds. Following on from Haig and Mould’s first collaboration, A Boy Called Christmas, this tale works so well at suspending belief and infusing hope, you’d be forgiven for feeling you’ve already met Father Christmas. Maybe you have. Haig takes what we have already been led to believe and crystallizes it into one big fat tangible beautiful believable Christmas miracle. Mould’s illustrations enhance an already magical tale with strokes of Dickenson brilliance. A Christmas must read – every year. Sublime to read aloud to little people or to cherish alone as you would the last fruit mince pie. Read, A Boy Called Christmas first to truly fortify your Christmas spirit, then Father Christmas and Me.
A & U Canongate November 2016
This beautifully presented hardback, complete with gilt dust cover, is a picture book gift that will set little people’s faces aglow. Crammed with more Christmas warmth and cheer than a barrel load of eggnog, One Christmas Wish is a heavenly illustrated picture book that reads and feels more like a classic novel for older children. It’s perfect for snuggling up to read with children as young as four, as well. Left at home alone with just the baby sitter on Christmas Eve, young Theo yearns to have his parents with him. Instead, he makes a wish upon a star, which initiates a magical reaction – decorations come to life, wondrous mayhem ensues. Rundell’s narrative is suffused with intoxicating wit and brandy-strength warmth. Sutton’s colourful drawings occasionally sweep across the pages filling the book with old world whimsy and charm yet are cheekily present day. This fusion of modern day dilemmas with traditional Christmas wisdoms and spirit is a stirring combination not to be missed.
Bloomsbury November 2017
From the first moment you turn the elegant cloth cover of this audibly enhanced picture book to the last note of Tchaikovsky’s famous ballet score, you’ll be entranced. The Nutcracker follows the magical journey of young Clara has she waits patiently for a special person to arrive on Christmas Eve, her Uncle Drosselmeyer. None of the exquisite gifts he presents the children with can compare to the wooden nutcracker in the shape of a man he gives to Clara. Unable to sleep, Clara creeps downstairs just after the magical hour and witnesses a wondrous transformation of toys, mice and the nutcracker. Sweet magic fills her evening as she is drawn into the story. Glorious classical music fills the book as readers follow Clara and listen to the various ballet acts. This is a story of song, dance and fairy tales (E.T.A Hoffman’s tale was the inspiration of Tchaikovsky’s ballet score), visually rich and alluring and magnificently informative thanks to the explanatory notes accompanying each Act. Almost better than a night at the ballet!
Frances Lincoln Children’s Books November 2017
This beautifully bound foil-enhanced hardcover picture book would make a sublime gift for Christmas for fans of the traditional idea of Christmas. Exquisite illustrations that allow the colour of Christmas toys to pop and bounce against a gentle serene background set the scene for this thoughtful retelling of the origins of Father and Mother Christmas. It will cultivate return visits, year after year for it aims to preserve the notion that belief fosters hope which in turn, nourishes magic and when magic is about, anything is possible. Truly Christmassy without any frivolous froth and bubble.
Bloomsbury November 2017
Not strictly a tale about Christmas, this picture book series nevertheless shouts yuletide festivity like no other. Each book – there are over six in this series – is a sumptuous visual factional excursion through the lives of kids aged seven to ten in a number of different countries around the world. Multiculturalism has never been so appetising. McCartney dishes up otherwise unknown cultural facts, traditions and trivia with more kid appeal than a sackful of liquorice allsorts. Snerling’s distinct character driven illustrations are just as colourful and exciting. I chose Canada to highlight as their December happenings represent all the merry frost and feasting of the Northern Hemisphere, that many Aussie kids are unfamiliar with – like ice-fishing and snowball fights! Take a tour around the world this Christmas, there’s really no excuse not to with picture books like these.
EK Books Exisle Publishing June 2017
If the Australian summer heat is getting the better of you these summer holidays, curl up with this delightful wintry tale of Gliori’s; it’ll warm your heart without melting your good cheer. It’s another picture book that bases its tale around real life situations, this tale focuses on Daddy Penguin, one little egg and one very big adventure. While waiting on the return of Mama Penguin the middle of the bleak Antarctic winter, Daddy Penguin shares a kind of ‘how you were born’ story with his newly hatched son that turns out to be a tale of tenacity following his many trials and tribulations to get his egg home after being separated from the Huddle. With a little luck and a lot of help from the Special Air Navigation Transport Authority, he is eventually reunited with the Dad Huddle and Mama who finds it hard to believe their highflying tale. Chock-a-block with the usual endearing prose and illustrations you’d expect of Gliori, this would make a great Christmas icebreaker to share these holidays.
Bloomsbury October 2017