Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Children's Books with a Christmas Theme


When my son was young, we bought quite a few illustrated children's books. We used the library a lot too, naturally. We had access to a used book store and a lovely woman who worked there would look out for great illustrated kid's books for us. And we ended up with a collection of illustrated children's books for all age levels.

The Church Mice series of picture books by Graham Oakley were a big favorite. These books are about a group of church mice, led by Arthur and Humphrey, and Sampson, the church cat. The first book came out in 1972. The books are picture books, with very detailed illustrations, but they have quite a bit of text also. I would say we have them all, but I think several have come out since 1990.

The Church Mice at Christmas features the church mice raffling off Sampson the cat to raise money to have a Christmas party. The stories are always very complex and this one is no exception. Goodreads describes each book in the series as "a picture book for young children" but really they are so much more and appeal to adults also.

At Graham Oakley's website, see this page with illustrations from the book. Oakley writes and illustrates the books.



Next are the Father Christmas books by Raymond Briggs.  We always thought of these as children's books and my son enjoyed them, but I read many comments online that they present too negative a picture of Father Christmas for kids.

Raymond Briggs is a well-known British illustrator and graphic novelist. Among other awards, he received two Kate Greenaway Medals for distinguished illustration.






Per the article on Raymond Briggs at Wikipedia:
Father Christmas (1973) and its sequel Father Christmas Goes on Holiday (1975) both feature a curmudgeonly Father Christmas who complains incessantly about the "blooming snow". For the former, he won his second Greenaway. Much later they were jointly adapted as a film entitled Father Christmas.
The second book is not truly a Christmas book, as it is about what Father Christmas does when he takes a break. He goes to France, Scotland, and Las Vegas. The story is more complex.






The last book I am featuring is one purchased for myself, fairly recently, just because I really like the author, Daniel Pinkwater. Pinkwater is the author of one of my favorite children's books ever, The Wuggie Norple Story.

Daniel Pinkwater is a very prolific writer of children's and young adult books, so I don't know what is typical for him. A lot of his books are funny and quirky.

This Christmas book, however, is a sweet story about a family of wolves who venture close to a small town at Christmas. The book is illustrated by his wife, Jill Pinkwater.



An excerpt from the book:
   We didn't see any humans. They were inside the wooden things with the light shining out through the holes, and the glittering lights on the outsides and the smoke coming out and the snow on top.
   We didn't see the humans, but we could hear them. They were singing. We listened. It was nice. I thought, even if they are dangerous, they are animals, just like we are. Then we threw back our heads and sitting on the hillside above the place where the humans live, we wolves sang, too. 


18 comments:

  1. Tracy,
    I am simply crazy for the Church Mice at Christmas book cover. Gorgeous! I've ordered Wolf Christmas from the library and can't wait to see it. This is what I love about sharing Christmas children's book. So many are published each year, and most stay in print only for 2-3 years, and then gone! Will provide a link very soon!
    Judith

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    1. I know Judith, I love that cover too. And all the illustrations are equally as good. I love children's books and was happy to revisit some of them.

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  2. Tracy, hardback children's illustrated books are available aplenty in secondhand bookstores in my city, shipped in big lots from your part of the world. I'm often tempted to buy one or two for old times' sake. The books with their large typeface and colourful pictures are lovely to look at. They've a good demand at book exhibitions. I don't remember coming across Raymond Briggs' Father Christmas.

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    1. Prashant, I am envious of the availability of secondhand books of all types there. I guess, to a certain extent, that is the price I pay for living in a smaller city.

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  3. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays

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    1. Thanks Scott. Have a good New Year.

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  4. What a lovely post Tracy, it reminded me of our favourite children's books - and we have the Snowman in common. Thanks so much for sharing these, and a very Happy Christmas to you and yours.... and look forward to many more shared joys in 2014.

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    1. Moira, I could have sworn we had The Snowman, but I must have just read a lot about the book. It was fun going through our small collection of children's books. I look forward to 2014, and getting more book ideas from you.

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    2. Tracy, I meant Father Christmas all along, not The Snowman (which is the same author of course), Christmas is getting to me and I'm getting confused! My children always loved the grumpy Santa. Happy Blooming Christmas to you too!

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    3. I still wish I had a copy of The Snowman. I always enjoyed Father Christmas' pets.

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  5. Tracy - What a lovely idea for a post! And you've shared some terrific children's fiction. I'm actually always in awe of those who can create books that get kids to want to read. Thanks for sharing these.

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    1. Thanks, Margot. We have a friend who has written some children's books, which are then illustrated by another person. The process of getting the story and the pictures together for a project like that is interesting.

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  6. Some of those books bring back memories. I hope you had a great Christmas, Tracy!

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    1. Sarah, brought back memories for me too. Yesterday was two Christmas movies, tonight we will watch another one. (Our definition of Christmas movies can be broad.)

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  7. I have quite a collection of childrens books and I admit that I now buy them for myself but the only ones I know from your post are the Raymond Briggs books. They were very popular when I worked in libraries years ago but one rather po-faced mother did complain about all the 'bloomings' featured. I did feel sorry for her child! I hope I can buy the Wolf Christmas book, it sounds lovely.

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    1. Katrina, I would buy more children's books for myself if I didn't spend so much on mysteries. The Wolf Christmas book is nice, just a small book but it is a sweet story.

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  8. Bah humbug........nothing to tempt me into book buying with this post. (Thanks!)
    If and when Grandchildren come along, hopefully not for a good few years yet!

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    1. Col, I am happy to have not tempted you this time.

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