IT’S CHRISTMAS!!! Well almost…only thirty three sleeps to go. And it’s the right time to share some of the fantastic picture books that can be enjoyed throughout December. Classified information, Christmas Eve calamities, a lyrical treat and the origins of the man himself will delight this holiday season.
How Does Santa Go Down the Chimney?; Mac Barnett, illustrated by Jon Klassen
Everyone knows how Santa delivers the presents on Christmas Eve: up on to the roof, down the chimney, fill the stockings, back up, on to the next house. But is it really that simple? Does he have to suck his belly in? Does he go headfirst or feetfirst? Do the reindeer give him a hoof up the bottom if he gets stuck half way down? Does he use the washing machine to get the soot off his clothes? Does he wear night vision goggles? And what on earth does he do when there is no chimney to go down…
Full of funny scenarios and silly ideas, Mac and Jan's exploration of the age old question of how Father Christmas gets into homes is a Christmas miracle. Not your typical Christmas picture book, How Does Santa Go Down the Chimney? is destined to become a festive classic and is essential reading on the eve of Christmas.
Brilliantly told - trademark deadpan humour from Mac, and visually engaging - more genius artwork from Jon, children will delight in the Christmas Eve shenanigans. Each idea more quirky and imaginative than the last as Santa completes his duties with coffee-drinking reindeer watching on. The addressing of several of the questions that curious children ponder; Does Santa get covered in soot? Why don’t dogs bark? How does he see in the dark? Does he prefer carrots or cookies? offer many plausible answers whilst maintaining Santa’s secret.
Recommended for 4+.
The Elf on the Shelf’s Night Before Christmas; Chanda A. Bell
The tree decorated, the gingerbread house iced, the stockings hung, the cookies set, the children snug in beds and Scout Elf’s suitcase packed. Scout is ready to leave his festive family behind when disaster tuns the perfect scene into a Christmas calamity. With chaos descending, Scout needs a Christmas miracle. Will Father Christmas come to the rescue and fix this merry mess or will the family awaken to a festive fright…
For many, a mischievous elf has become an essential part of counting down the days to Christmas. Tapping into childhood innocence and the magic of believing, this calamitous Christmas Eve will bring smiles to little faces and will have parents giving thanks that it is not in their house.
A fun twist on the original ’Twas the Night Before Christmas, this playful retelling of a beloved classic is one to share and read aloud with the entire family. Plenty of colourful scenes give children lots to spot and recognise in their own celebrations as things descends into merry chaos.
If 'Elf on the Shelf' visits your home in December then this is the only way to send your houseguest off until next year!
Recommended for 3+.
Pink Santa; Tanya Hennessy, illustrated by Ben Whitehouse
There were no more days to count down. In Santa’s workshop all of the gifts had been made and wrapped, the list had been checked twice, the cookies were baked and the sleigh was polished and prepped. There was just one more job to do before delivering the presents…wash Santa’s suit. And in the capable and trustworthy hooves of Rudolph what could possibly go wrong…
In a very colourful twist, another read gives new life to the classic words from ’Twas the Night Before Christmas. With all of the festive favourites adopting a new colour, the pinkified Christmas is joyful, inclusive and wrapped up with messages around making the best of the situation, embracing change and being yourself (red suit or not).
Much hilarity ensues following the washing woe proving that the best things often come from mistakes. The very ‘cheeky’ elves are a personal favourite - don’t miss the one at the end who has their own idea for Christmas clothing (or lack of) next year.
Recommended for 3+.
Here Comes a Merry Christmas; Justine Clark, Arthur Basting & Peter Dasent, illustrated by Heath McKenzie
‘There’s a feeling in the air.
We’ve been waiting all the year.
There’s a new star up in the sky tonight,
And it’s shining oh so bright!
Here comes a Merry Christmas - for all of the family.’
The words of Justine Clarke’s song and Heath’s heart-warming, feel-good artwork capture the magic and excitement of the holiday season. Here Comes a Merry Christmas is a joyful celebration of good times with family, friends and those that we hold dear. Happiness, love and togetherness are the real gifts here as cookies are baked, decorations are hung, carols are sung and laughter and excitement fill the air all beneath an angel and star that symbolise love, hope and light.
A catchy song to sing along to and pages filled with all of the elements of Christmas will have littlies ho-ho-ho-ing their way towards the special day.
Recommended for 2+.
The X-mas Files: Classified Secrets from the North Pole; Pat Shand, illustrated by Giuseppe Dimaio
Christmas at the North Pole is an incredibly busy time. And what goes on there is shrouded in secrecy and is on a need-to-know basis…until now. An overworked and under-appreciated elf with a X-mas axe to grind is ready to expose all that is supposed to be kept strictly under wraps. Discover Santa’s secrets, elfish truths and the realities of reindeer life as Elmer Elffenstock pulls back the tinsel-covered curtain. Can you handle the Christmas truth…
Count down the days until Christmas with this fun-filled, activity packed, festive treat. In a no-holds-barred exposé, Elmer, the loveable rogue elf, lifts the lid on all things Christmas as he questions the way that Santa runs things, bemoans life at the North Pole, berates his fellow elves and laments reindeer.
Nothing is off limits as the naughty and nice list, the Elf on the Shelf, the invention of gift wrapping, Mrs Claus’ annual holiday feast, questionable Christmas fashion choices, the real Grinch, the epic war of pranks with jealous South Pole elves, Santa’s grumpy brother-in-law Hank and Counterfeit Clauses are all pulled out of the festive stocking and unwrapped. Elf nicknames, lazy reindeer and Noel, Santa’s ankle-biting pet penguin, all get a good ol’ Elmer bashing. Even Rudolph, or is it Reggie, Randy, Redman or Rudolfo, isn’t excluded - on December 21st the red-nosed reindeer gets a full working over (possibly my favourite reveal).
Children will love listening to Elmer’s funny anecdotes that offer answers to many of the wonderings they have; What’s the deal with the naughty and nice list? How does Santa manage to visit all of the children around the world in just one night? Can he fit all the presents in his sleigh? What happens if you’re too excited to fall asleep on Christmas Eve? Is it possible for Santa to eat all the cookies and mince pies?
Full of colourful Christmas artwork and with games, challenges and activities for each day, including name generators, search and finds, a recipe, a song, arts, crafts and quizzes, it is guaranteed to keep spirits high with the added bonus of providing hours of enjoyment for the entire family.
S-elf-ish for telling all? Christmas magic ruined? No way, the wonder of Christmas is never in danger of disappearing, if anything, Elmer makes the countdown even more special with tales and trivia that bring smiles to faces and festive cheer to the soul.
Recommended for 6+.
Kid Christmas of the Claus Brothers Toy Shop; David Litchfield
The Claus Brothers Toy Shop is home to the finest toys in the world. Hanz builds, Louis checks and Levi adds a sprinkling of magic. Nicky loves working with his three uncles and especially loves seeing all of the excited, happy children come through the doors in search of the perfect toy. But not everyone can afford a toy and when Nicky follows a young girl into a hole in the hall he makes a troubling discovery. Determined to bring a little happiness to every child, even if just for a day, Nicky wishes for a Christmas miracle. With theYule 3000, some real-life magic and a sleigh load of resolve, belief and hard work the legend of St Nick is born…
A magical and wonderful festive read that sparkles and twinkles like fresh fallen snow. Transporting readers back to Victorian-era England, David delivers the wonder of Christmas in a heartfelt, thoughtful and hopeful story where kindness, compassion, empathy and friendship are the truest and best gifts of all. Charmingly told and with spellbinding illustrations this refreshing Christmas tale, that explores the possible origins of St Nick and gift giving, will captivate and delight alongside encouraging reflection.
Christmas can be a time when wants outweigh needs and where more value is placed on receiving than giving. Kind-hearted Nicky implores us all to think about what we have, to embrace the joys of giving, to think of others that are less fortunate and how we can help those who may not receive a present or many presents.
Overflowing with the very best of Christmas, this beautiful book is one that every child deserves to have shared with them. Reading in the weeks leading up to Christmas gives children the opportunity to think about how they can be like Nicky, to evoke the spirit of the Claus Brothers and to bring cheer and good will to all.
Recommended for 5+.
With huge thanks to Allen & Unwin, Penguin Random House, Harper Collins, Walker and Simon & Schuster for the copies I received in exchange for honest reviews.