It’s getting to that time of year when we start to look around for Christmassy treats for the family & the home. Whether that’s planning craft projects (and getting hold of the materials), working out various food orders, or looking for lovely new books and music, it’s always good to be organised.. So, today it’s children’s books. We’ve picked three for this year.
The first is Elmer & Papa Red (or Elmer’s Christmas in the USA) Our boys still love David McKee’s Elmer books and I’m sure this is at least in part to the vivid, distinctive artwork. It reminds me of TV programmes of my childhood, also using McKee’s illustrations, Mr Benn & King Rollo.
The story is a nice simple tale of excitement and thinking of others, given that little bit more by the pictures, full of colour, life and movement. Love that Christmas tree picture..
The next is from 2009, Jack Frost by Kazuno Kohara. Another simple picture book for younger readers and those who are at the looking and listening stage, it’s about the fun and fleetingness of the cold season.
The illustrations here are bold and stylish linocuts, which shift rather cleverly from black and blue of lonely boredom to the sparkling white and blues of a world transformed to snow and fun. It’s a checklist of things children love about winter, from snowballs and snowmen to tobogganing and skis. A simple story that looks lovely is pretty much what you want from a wintry picture book.
Finally a new edition of an old story: Christmas Eve at the Mellops is a translation from Tomy Ungerer’s 1978 German story. This one’s my favourite of the ones we’ve picked up this year, I think. Another more or less straightforward tale of generosity and thinking of others, it’s given life by its rather wonderful illustrations and the desperate plight of the people in need of some Christmas cheer.
It just goes to show that you can do something memorable and touching with animal heroes – without tipping over into sickly-sweet cuteness. We can’t wait to share all three of these books with our two during December.