Ah Christmas. ‘Tis the season of sharing and caring and er slapping a bit of festive cheer on something and hoping to catch a slice of that generous retail spend.
Call me cynical, or call me Scrooge but I’ve never been a fan of the Christmas song or the Christmas film, and don’t get me started on Christmas books.
However, I’ve had to revise my opinion on the latter. Thanks to the lovely people of Mumsnet, I’ve been sent a bundle of Little Tiger Press’s Christmas books to review and they’re all rather charming.
When Toby opened the package his first reaction was not a positive one, declaring them to be too babyish for him. He’s seven and most of them are pitched to a pre-school audience. However, I left them lying around and he was drawn to them and enjoyed browsing or reading them all.
So here are the books:
Is it Christmas Yet? by Jane Chapman
With its squishy cover and chunky board pages, Is It Christmas Yet? is durable enough to withstand the most curious of toddler fingers or teeth, so may last a little bit longer than Boxing Day. It also features bold and colourful illustrations that are likely to appeal and the story captures successfully captures the feelings at Christmas time from a young child’s point of view. It’s well written and the language has a nice rhythm to it that will be pleasant for adults to read aloud. It’s perfect for building up the Chistmas excitement to Christmas for a child young enough to be a bit unsure about what this whole festive season actually is.
The Night Before Christmas by Clement C Moore and Mark Marshall
Little Tiger’s book is a fairly faithful rendition of this classic Christmas story, which is one that has been read regularly in our house. The illustrations serve to bring this tale bang up to date, and if you’re looking for a Christmas Eve tradition then I think a family read of this book will help get everyone in the mood (and may even settle young ones into their beds at a reasonable time).
Waiting for Santa by Steve Metzger and Alison Edgson
Waiting for Santa takes Christmas to the animal kingdom with a cast of cute and fluffy woodland creatures. With the right balance between words and pictures for a 3yr-old to 5yr-old audience, the story captures the childlike anticipation in wondering whether Santa will deliver those presents. I’m never a huge fan of animals doing human activities in stories but it will nurture those feelings of empathy in young readers by encouraging children to think about who may feel left out at Christmas.
One Snowy Rescue by M Christina Butler and Tina Macnaughton
Although a White Christmas is usually as likely as Santa’s glass of Baileys being left untouched on Christmas morning, snow is very much synonymous with the festive season and is a popular theme for children’s festive books. One Snowy Rescue is another animal-based story with nice tactile bits for children to touch and explore. I’m generally a fan of any touchy bits in kids’ books because they really help little ones become involved and active in the storytelling experience, priming them for the day when they get involved in reading for themselves.
The Magical Snow Garden by Tracey Corderoy and Jane Chapman
Another snow themed picture book, the Magical Snow Garden is about a penguin who longs for a garden, and with a little help from his friends creates quite a spectacular one. The message – “you never know what you can do until you try” – is perhaps a bit too obviously laid out for my taste but it’s a creative, charming and colourful book nonetheless, with a strong character journey.
On a Snowy Night
This paperback is a collection of festive animal tales featuring many established children’s authors. I’m a real fan of short stories for children, particularly for a bedtime story (no danger of your child begging you to continue to the next chapter!). This book is also appealing – with illustrations and large print – to children just beginning to read for themselves.
The Storm Leopards by Holly Webb
Animal stories hold an enduring appeal for children of all ages and are helpful for teaching children empathy, caring skills and an understanding of the natural world. This children’s novel tells the story of a young girl who is moved to find out how to protect endangered snow leopards after she spots one during a family day out at the zoo. Her curiosity draws her into an adventure to save a mother snow leopard and her cubs.