What's your favourite Christmas book?When I was a child there were few stories that weren’t set in the white, snow-covered Northern Hemisphere. Nowadays Australian Christmas stories are everywhere, but I don’t mind traditional tales – all that snow has a cooling effect during a summer scorcher.
This is by no means a best-of or even an exhaustive list of Christmas books – the library had been raided by post-storytime toddlers before I got there.
Jackie French, Bruce Whatley
I have to declare a conflict of interest here. I believe I single-handedly put Diary of a Wombat on the best sellers' list after giving it to almost everyone I know. After reigning over the household in Diary, in this book loveable Mothball takes on Santa’ reindeer in her eternal quest for carrots. The wombat leaves her trademark trail of destruction and battles strange creatures before hitching a ride on Santa's sleigh and discovering a world of carrots. French and Whatley have yet again created a delightful story, and funny characters. The ideal Christmas book for anyone who loved Diary of a Wombat, or to introduce someone to the series.
Claire Saxby, Janine Dawson
The Five Mile Press, 2013
Written to the tune of Jingle Bells, Christmas at Grandad's Farm is a familiar tune with an unfamiliar twist. The family gathers at Grandad's farm on Christmas Eve, rides in the ute, swims in the creek, and awaits Santa's arrival. It's impossible not to sing the story, which, unlike some other Christmas carol interpretations, rolls off the tongue easily. Dawson's illustrations capture Christmas in a hot, dry Australian summer. Written with humour and plenty of good cheer, this sing-song book will most likely star in school Christmas concerts from next year.
HarperCollins Children's Books, 1985
It is almost impossible to read this classic, first published in 1957, without doing the Grinch voice. Its enduring popular it down to its great story, characters and that trademark Dr Seuss rhyming verse. If you've only seen the movies don't be put off - The Grinch is a loveable villain and the noisy, humourous writing is a joy to both read and listen to. The black, white and red illustrations are action-packed, and the story has a strong anti-consumerism message, and focuses on togetherness.
Gina Newton, Christina Booth
Scholastic Press, 2013
It's Christmas Eve. A hot and tired Koala Claws and his reinroos at are the last stop, and he decides to have a quick nap. After stripping down to his jocks Koala Claws falls into a deep sleep. Blossom Possum and her growing band of similarly rhyming Aussie bush friends who try to wake the sleeping Koala Claws to save Bush Christmas. The story is written in partially rhyming verse, with repetition and characters that would appeal to young children, and humour and Australian slang. Booth's illustrations capture the action in muted bush tones as the animals try various means to wake the koala, with a bright and cheery feast at the end.
Two dogs and a parrot explore the palace as Queen Victoria, Prince Albert and their family prepare for Christmas. The reason behind the mysterious smells and noises, caroling, crackers, and a strange tree are revealed on Christmas Day. The author's endnote explains how Prince Albert's Christmas traditions spread through the British Empire in the 1840s and became the basis of the traditional Christmas most of us know today. A delightfully playful and sneakily educational book from Australia's new Children's Laureate Jackie French, and illustrator Bruce Whatley.
The Night Before ChristmasClement C. Moore
Various publishers, first published 1823
"Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse..." The classic poem, also known as A Visit from St Nicholas, has been the basis for movies, other stories, including Brucie Saves Christmas (below), and is an enduring tale about a household awaiting the arrival of St Nicholas. I own a version that came as a set with a cardboard advent calendar. My son has a bear that recites the whole poem. He listens to the bear while reading the book – the two versions don't quite match, but the narrative is a classic. This poem is believed to be the source of the reindeer names - Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen.
Random House, 2010
Whatley must love Christmas. This is his third book on this list - and the only as author/illustrator. He has created a warm, poignant and enduring tale that simultaneously warms and wrenches the heart. This is not based on the Christmas carol of the same name - it is a story about tradition, family and worth. The Little Drummer Boy is a Christmas ornament made by Annie's grandfather. He takes pride of place on the tree each year, and as he gets older and starts to fade, so too does Annie.
Yvonne Morrison, Michelle Pike
Scholastic Australia, 2009
It's Christmas morning. Santa, his ute and his roos have finished their run. Back home in the Outback one roo is about to give birth (after clearly ignoring medical advice about not flying in the last weeks of pregnancy). Joey Brucie isn't the sporty, ute-flying type. He's studious and shy. Written to the pattern of Twas the Night Before Christmas, and also Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, this book shows that everyone is special in their own way. The sequel to An Aussie Night Before Christmas.
David Fickling Books, 2012
Gorgeous illustrations take a boy through snow-covered towns past where the snowmen live to a secret place with elves and a giant reindeer. Christmas exists in the pictures, which are an atmospheric rendering of a white European winter.
Penguin Group, 2010
So much to do. How many days left? Impatient little Llama Llama is busy shopping with Mama Llama, playing at school, and waiting, waiting, waiting. Llama Llama is like every little kid who gets so excited about the holidays, when there's so much to do and the big day just can't come fast enough. Beautiful, character-filled illustrations and text make this an enjoyable, humourous book to read.
Roger Hargreaves, Adam Hargreaves
Penguin Group, 2010
Old and new Mr Men and Little Miss characters feature in various books, some of which made their way into our home in Christmas stockings. Santa clearly knows us well! Subjects include the Misters and Misses preparing for Christmas Day; A Christmas wish for snow in Australia; and Little Miss Trouble causing mischief during a Christmas staging of Aladdin. They are great additions to any Mr Men collection, with the familiar humour and style. Hopefully Santa will bring some of the other titles will this year. They make great stocking fillers.