Every year, another round of festive picture books is released, so we’re really spoilt for choice at this time of year. But sometimes you just can’t go past the tried and true classics.
Children’s book advocate Sally Zwartz has a passion for finding the most entertaining and beautifully illustrated books for kids. You’d probably know Christmas tales like Dr Seuss’ The Grinch, or Clement Clarke Moore’s The Night Before Christmas, but here are some perhaps lesser-known time-honoured titles that Sally loves for Storytime!
1. Christmas at the Mellops’ by Tomi Ungerer
A family of pigs, the Mellops also appeared in French writer Ungerer’s first book, published in 1957. In this tale, their brilliantly named children - Felix, Isidor, Casimir and Ferdinand - head into the forest, but gather too many Christmas trees so they have to start giving them out. The final Christmas message to take out? There’s no such thing as too many Christmas trees. It’s full of beautiful, simple pictures, with deceptive details to make you laugh. And if you like the family, there are plenty more stories about them!
Listen to Sally on Kinderling Conversation:
2. Father Christmas by Raymond Briggs
From the author of The Snowman, this one is probably familiar to you, as there’s a little film based on Father Christmas too. And early graphic novel/comic strip from late 70s, it’s based on Brigg's own father, who was a milkman back in the day. We learned about Father Christmas’s day-to-day and night-to-night life, a book that has certainly stood the test of time.
3. Morris's Disappearing Bag by Rosemary Wells
Wells writes so beautifully about sibling dynamics. On Christmas the day goes pear-shaped when Morris’ (the youngest of his family) older siblings receive the better presents, and he is given the dud. He manages to find a disappearing bag, which is what everyone wants in the end. And as a result, he gets to play with all the other toys from his brothers and sisters!
4. Max's Christmas by Rosemary Wells
Another one from Wells, the chief characters Max and Ruby turn up in a lot of her books. Ruby tries to control Max, but he always managed to bounce out from her instruction. In this one, Max meets Santa, in another hilarious tale.
5. Tea and Sugar Christmas by Jane Jolly
Ever wanted more stories about a quintessentially Australian Christmas? This one hits the nail on the head. Based on the train that used to run between Port Augusta and Kalgoorlie along the Nullabor, it would bring supplies to all the families in the remote settlements on the way. It’s illustrated by Rober Ingpen, one of Australia's great illustrators. There are lots of facts and information, demonstrated through black and white drawings plus unfolding landscapes.
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