Whether you’re reading to your class or snuggled under a blanket at home with family and pets, there’s something extra special about sharing stories during the festive period. In this spirit, we’ve chosen a selection of the wonderful Christmas and wintry-themed picture books currently brightening up the shelves at ELS.
The Snowflake written and illustrated by Benji Davies
This new story by the author of The Storm Whale and Grandad’s Island is about a little snowflake who doesn’t want to fall and a girl who needs a special star to top the tiny Christmas tree she has decorated with her grandad. After tumbling and twirling down through the sky, the snowflake finds itself landing in a perfect spot, and the little girl is surprised to see the most beautiful snowy ‘star’ at the top of her tree.
Atmospheric and detailed illustrations and a lovely new Christmas story combine to make a wonderful picture book. Reviewed by Sarah M
Meerkat Christmas written and illustrated by Emily Gravett
This is the perfect sequel to Meerkat Mail. It’s a wonderful story of adventure as a young meerkat searches for a traditional Christmas. After deciding his Kalahari Desert home just isn’t Christmassy, he leaves his family to travel round the world looking for the perfect Christmas. Through a series of postcards the young meerkat realises the true meaning of Christmas and returns home to his family. This lovely, witty book is the ideal Christmas storybook. Reviewed by Gina
On Angel Wings written by Michael Morpurgo, illustrated by Quentin Blake
A retelling of the Christmas Story narrated by a young shepherd. The visit of the Angel Gabriel prompts the shepherds to begin their journey to Bethlehem to see the new king, but someone must stay to watch the sheep. Our narrator thinks he has lost his chance until Gabriel reappears and offers to fly him to the stable whilst a host of angels watch over his sheep. Our shepherd boy is the first visitor, and having nothing else to offer as a gift, gives the newborn baby his crook, a gift Jesus carries with him throughout his life.
Beautifully written with rich language to explore, On Angel Wings is an ideal class Christmas read for Key Stage 1. Reviewed by Sarah M
Dasher written and illustrated by Matt Tavares
Dasher and his family of reindeers are one of the many attractions at J.P. Finnegan’s Travelling Circus and Menagerie. When Dasher hears his mother’s stories of the Northern Star and their life in the cold snowy lands before they were captured, he longs to escape and return to his northern home.
One windy night, the gate of their stall is blown open and Dasher takes his chance to escape. After travelling for many hours, Dasher, on the point of giving up, comes across Santa with his sleigh and horse Silverbell. The sleigh is getting heavier every year as more children believe in the magic of Christmas so when Dasher offers to help, he and Silverbell pull the sleigh into the night sky and successfully deliver all the presents on Christmas Eve.
Dasher loves his new life at The North Pole, but he misses his family. Santa helps Dasher to find his family and escape the circus, and together they return to the North Pole. The following Christmas, Silverbell is happy to see the family of eight reindeer pull Santa’s sleigh, soaring around the world to deliver all the presents to children everywhere.
A lovely festive picture book, great for Key Stage 1. Reviewed by Sarah M
One Christmas Wish written by Katherine Rundell, illustrated by Emily Sutton
A charming story of a little boy whose parents seem too busy to prepare for Christmas. Left with a babysitter on Christmas Eve, and with an old box of broken decorations and a tree to decorate, he feels very alone. Seeing a shooting star in the sky, the boy makes a wish to not be alone anymore, and to his surprise the four old tree decorations come to life!
Theo helps the rocking horse gallop by removing his rockers, the angel flies by finding feathers for her wings, the robin sings by finding a neighbour to give him singing lessons, and the tin soldier plays his drum and finds someone to be in love with.
Theo returns home alone and falls asleep under the tree, to be discovered by his parents, whose sighting of a galloping horse has reminded them of their first Christmas together and prompted a longing to be home with their son. When he wakes up on Christmas Day, he finds the Christmas morning he dreamed of, with a pile of presents, music, decorations and the angel back on top of the tree – it must have been magic!
A magical modern fairy tale for Christmas — great to read to Year 2. Reviewed by Sarah M
Coming Home written by Michael Morpurgo, illustrated by Kerry Hyndman
A beautifully illustrated picture book with poetic, rhythmical text, Coming Home follows the perilous migration of the robin from Scandinavia back to his winter home in the UK. A real insight into the life of this iconic bird, so much associated with our winter garden and the star of so many Christmas cards! Reviewed by Sarah M
Oliver Elephant written by Lou Peacock, illustrated by Helen Stephens
A charming picture book, vividly portraying a typical family Christmas shopping trip. Told in rhyme, the text bounces along, describing the excitement of the busy shops, the decorations, and a mum trying to get everything on her shopping list with a young child and baby to watch over too. The title character Oliver Elephant, Noah’s favourite toy, joins in the fun but then gets left behind. Noah is distraught, searching with mum until his toy is finally discovered in his baby sister’s pushchair!
A lovely class read for Reception and Year 1. Reviewed by Sarah M
The Christmas Eve Tree written by Delia Huddy, illustrated by Emily Sutton
A boy sees a small straggly Christmas tree left in the shop window late one Christmas Eve. The shopkeeper lets the boy take the tree, and the boy, who we discover is homeless, plants it in a cardboard box, decorating it with a few candles he has found. The little tree brings joy and companionship as passers-by join the boy in his simple celebration. Later the tree is planted and grows, a hopeful ending to a modern Christmas story. Beautiful illustrations by Emily Sutton are the perfect complement to the story. Reviewed by Sarah M
Grace at Christmas written by Mary Hoffman, illustrated by Cornelius van Wright and Yin-Hwa Hu
This instalment of Hoffman’s popular Grace series is about Grace having family members to stay who she hasn’t met before and how at first she is resistant to the idea, before making friends and realising that acting out the Christmas story is even better with more people. A lovely story, with beautiful illustrations by Cornelius Van Wright and Ying-Hwa Hu. Reviewed by Lesley