The Magic of Christmas – What Makes a Lasting Christmas Picture Book?
The bookshops are filled with Christmas-themed books on display tables:
|Display of Christmas-themed picture books at Waterstone's High Street Kensington|
some beautiful newly illustrated versions of The Twelve Days of Christmas,
not to mention an exquisite new edition of Snow by Walter de la Mare, illustrated by Carolina Rabei.
And of course, there are Christmas adventures for favourite characters, including Peppa Pig, Blue Kangaroo, Snoopy, Alfie and Paddington Bear.
So what, in this market seemingly populated by traditional classics and character-led publishing, is breaking through to become a modern classic? The trouble with Christmas books is that they have to sell now, but they also need to work year after year. Here are some examples of Christmas books that we love and why:
1. Father Christmas Needs a Wee by Nicholas Allan
This has to be a modern Christmas classic! This funny picture book is just jam-packed with cheeky, festive fun. Not only do we have poor Father Christmas desperately in need of a pee (definitely a theme that most of us - young and old - can relate to!) but there's also a brilliant counting element seamlessly woven into it too. It's fast becoming a permanent fixture on the Christmas best-seller lists.
2. The Jolly Christmas Postman by Janet and Allan Ahlberg
This is another timeless classic, and also a Kate Greenaway medal winner! What's NOT to love about this fantastically festive tale? Set in a magical winter wonderland, not only is there a wonderfully jolly rhyming text, but the novelties are such great fun! Oh, and the story is also full of characters that are immediate and recognizable to all young readers.
3. How Many Sleeps Till Christmas? by Mark Sperring and Sebastien Braun
Similarly, this lovely story by Mark Sperring picks up on a well-worn phrase and uses strong characters and a clever counting-down element that will strike a chord in lots of households in the run-up to Christmas. What makes this really special is the clever use of a relatively modern, and now extensively used phrase, to hook and engage with the reader.
1. Dear Santa by Rod Campbell
2. The Christmas Angels by Else Wenz-Vietor
3. Is it Christmas? by John Prater
This story beautifully depicts a small child's anticipation in the run-up to Christmas and all the homey activities - card-making, baking, decorating and waiting for Santa and the family to arrive - that punctuate modern-day Christmases the world-over. Its sequel and companion book, Baby Bear's Christmas Kiss, carries on the story on Christmas Day, with Baby Bear's quest to find the perfect present for Grandbear and all the humour and warmth of Christmas Day surrounded by family.
What are your favourite Christmas picture books?
We wish all our readers a festive season. Thank you for following our blog!
We hope that 2015 is a productive and inspiring year for you. See you then!
Natascha Biebow is editor, mentor and coach at www.blueelephantstoryshaping.com
Check out my new online small group-coaching courses:
Gift vouchers available!