It’s officially the countdown to Christmas 2020! It is the perfect time for a festive post featuring some incredible new Christmas illustrated books as well as some classics re-told.
The Twelve Days of Christmas: Grandma is Overly Generous by Alex T Smith (Macmillan)
This is hands down our favourite re-told classic Christmas book of 2020. My daughter loves the 12 days of Christmas and Alex has created such a fun twist on the song. Grandma’s presents start off fairly tame, but they soon get a bit out of control!
The illustrations are absolutely spectacular and it’s great to see a little girl of colour as the star of this fabulous Christmas book. Alex wrote a brilliant Twitter thread (here) on creating the illustrations, which is well worth checking out.
This is a lovely book that we could share as a whole family with my one-year-old and my three-year-old. My eldest loved seeing all the stamps and the anticipation of what was coming next. Her favourite part was eight bears a-balancing!
There’s no way I can mention Alex T Smith and Christmas and not give a shout out to his fabulous book, How Winston Delivered Christmas which I reviewed last year, here. The book combines creative crafts and a festive story about a brave little mouse who sets out on a Very Important Mission on Christmas Eve. The story is told over 24 and a half chapters for advent. I highly recommend it – it’s becoming part of our Christmas family traditions!
The Girl Who Stole the Stars by Corinna Campbell (Little Door Books)
Next up, is a lovely debut picture book by author-illustrator Corrina Campbell.
A little girl writes to Santa asking for a ladder that reaches to the stars. When she sees the stars, she can’t resist taking one to keep. But then the temptation grows and the little girl takes more and more stars until there are none left. Can Santa help her realise that the stars are there for everyone?
Corinna’s illustrations are vibrant and my daughter could understand the story without needing to read the words. This is a lovely alternative Christmassy story about sharing, doing the right thing and learning from our mistakes.
Santa Post by Emma Yarlett (Walker)
The Jolly Christmas Postman was my favourite Christmas book as a child and I couldn’t wait to read Santa Post with my daughters.
It’s almost Christmas, when Santa receives Amy’s letter. She is on the “good list” and he wants to give her the perfect present, except… the letter has a piece missing where she wrote what she wants! Santa enlists all of his friends to help come up with the right gift for Amy but their ideas are questionable. Surely Amy doesn’t want coal?? Will Santa be able to come up with the perfect gift?
My daughters loved lifting the flaps of all the letters and parcels. Emma’s illustrations are so detailed and the letters are filled with humour. We absolutely loved the ending!
A Dancer’s Dream by Katherine Woodfine & Lizzy Stewart (Simon & Schuster)
Not many things make me think of Christmas more than Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker. Katherine and Lizzy have created a truly gorgeous book of the true story behind The Nutcracker.
There is a lovely Authors Note at the back of the book about ballerinas, Stanislava Belinskaya and Anna Pavlova. The story starts in snowy St. Petersburg where Stana dreams of being a ballerina. She’s living the dream when she gets the chance to play Clara in The Nutcracker. But with the pressure on, can Stana overcome her nerves?
This story is just the right length for young readers to enjoy themselves, or to read as a family, perhaps in one go, or over a few sittings for very little ones. It would make a perfect gift for ballet fans!
The Night Before the Night Before Christmas by Kes Gray & Claire Powell (Hachette)
If you’re looking for a glitzy, jolly, rhyming, festive read that will have you grinning from ear to ear as you watch Santa preparing for Christmas – look no further!
This book has it all. And oh my goodness, it is so beautiful. Claire’s illustrations feel like a warm festive hug and I LOVE Mrs Santa. Santa is rushing around, but he’s sure he’s forgotten something. Will he remember in time?
My little girl gasped as she saw the huge sack of presents and delighted telling me about how they go in Santa’s polished sleigh. You won’t find a more Christmassy book!
The Night After Christmas by Kes Gray & Claire Powell (Hachette)
There is only one thing that makes The Night Before the Night Before Christmas even better and that’s the fact the sequel has just been published in time for Christmas 2020…
So, the presents have been delivered and Christmas is over. But the party is only just beginning for Santa and his elves! And believe me, it’s a party like you’ve never seen before, including with a GIANT cracker full of sweets!
I think I actually love The Night After Christmas even more than The Night Before the Night Before Christmas. There is a beautiful harmony between the two books. In the first, I loved watching Santa looking out at the stars, and in the sequel we see the same scene with the light show. For me, these two books are the perfect Christmas package, one to read during advent, and the other to read after Christmas. Now the fun never has to end!
Hopscotch and the Christmas Tree by Katy Segrove & Katerina Vykhodtseva (Tiny Tree)
It has been a tough year for small independent publishers, so I was delighted to be able to include a festive story from Tiny Tree.
Hopscotch and his friends are getting ready for Christmas, but there’s a problem. Their old fake Christmas tree is falling apart and they can’t decide what one to get to replace it. Big, or small, fat or thin? Is it mean to cut down a real tree? It’s beginning to look like they may not have ANY tree. But then they notice the apple tree in the garden…
This alternative Christmas story reminded me of the principles of upcycling, and finding happiness in what you have around you.
Santa Jaws by Mark Sperring & Sophie Corrigan (Bloomsbury)
This is fins down, my daughter’s favourite Christmas picture book of 2020! She adores ocean-themed books and Mark and Sophie have created the most wonderful Christmassy underwater world.
A sneaky shark named Shelly dresses up as Santa on Christmas Eve, inviting fishy folk into her “grotto”. Now, most of the savvy fishes don’t fall for her trap. But a squid called Sid is thrilled by the idea of meeting Santa. When Sid goes into the dark, dark grotto, and spots some big, sharp teeth, will Sid realise what’s going on in time?
Santa Jaws is a brilliant, original Christmas picture book and I must admit, I didn’t see the final twist coming! Mark’s rhymes are lovely and roll off the tongue. Sophie’s illustrations are charming and we love coral town! Santa Jaws captivated my three-year-old from cover to cover!
I am very grateful to the publishers for providing me with complimentary copies of these books. This feature contains my honest opinion. Thank you also to Toppsta, we won Santa Jaws in a giveaway.