Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Christmas Books

It gets to December and I can't help but get out all my Christmassy picture books.  I think there is something magic about looking through all the ones you read when you were a child especially.   They really evoke certain festive feelings and memories like nothing else can. 

How Six Found Christmas
The illustrations in this book are really beautiful.  All done in line and painted in a limited colour palette.   The story is about a child called Six who doesn't know what Christmas is so she goes out looking for it.  Along the way she meets a cat, a dog, a bird, a hawk, a fox and a mockingbird.  None of them know what Christmas is either! So they all follow Six through the forest to see if they can find it, wanting to know what it smelt like, tasted like, sounded like etc.  Eventually they come across a green bottle lying in the snow and all the animals are not at all impressed.  However, Six picks up the bottle and takes it home.  'She filled it with branches of red berries and soft green pine.  And in the evening stars shone through the window and onto the green glass making it glisten softly.  And lo! It was Christmas!'

The Santa Trap
This book comes with a warning: 'Contains no peace and goodwill.'  And it would be right! It's not your regular warm and cosy Christmas story but it still manages to keep hold of a certain, slightly twisted Christmas charm none the less. 'Bradley Bartleby was bad.  He'd been born bad.  Before baby Bradley had even left the hospital... he'd bitten the midwife on the bottom stolen the doctors stethoscope, and emptied his nappy into his grandmother's handbag.'  With a beginning like that, you know you're in for some mischief!

Bradley's parents are terrified of him.  And this is why they give him anything he wants.  Every Christmas his father hires a team of secretaries to type up the list of presents that his greedy son demands.  But of course Santa knows how naughty Bradley is, but because he is so nice, still brings Bradley a pair of socks every year.  
One year Bradley gets fed up of this.  He gets fed up of socks and decides to set a santa trap.  He spends the year training tigers, lining the chimneys with dynamite, fitting the doors with guillotines and so on.  When at last Christmas Eve arrives, Bradley lays in wait for Santa.  But he is very tired from all his plotting and planning over the last year and, you got it, falls asleep...

The book ends dramatically and with a clever twist, but I shall let you find that out for yourselves!

The illustrations are painted smoothly with lots of character.  I love the sumptuousness of the Bartleby's house and I get a very gothic vibe from them!

The Nightmare Before Christmas 
I won't harp on about this one seeing as it's so popular but i just wanted to include it. Another gothic one!  Love Tim Burtons spidery illustrations but I think I love the animation even more! 

Rudolph Shines again
I found this book recently in a charity shop and thought that it had the nicest illustrations of reindeer in it!  They're just really cute basically.  And that was the main reason I bought the book.  The story is written in verse and is a sequel to Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer. Again Rudolph is being bullied by the other reindeer, they think it's unfair that he gets to pull the sleigh.  Rudolph begins to wallow in self pity and his nose stops shining.  He decides that he is no use to Santa now, so runs away.  'But on his journey something magical happens: by helping strangers in need, Rudolph becomes a hero and learns to value himself.' 

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