It’s a most wonderful time of year (if you ignore the to-do lists still growing with less than a week to go before the big day). Here are some festive favourites that we’ve been enjoying in recent weeks - the first two being a perfect accompaniment to the recent snowfall.
Bear and Hare - Snow! by Emily Gravett, published by Two Hoots
We are already big fans of Emily Gravett’s wonderful animal picture books, which she writes and illustrates beautifully. This is one of a series of stories about the adventures of best friends, Bear and Hare.
Bear and Hare wake one morning to find - SNOW! Hare is clearly elated, Bear a little unsure. First things first, Bear and Hare catch snowflakes on their tongues (an action that our youngest daughter never fails to copy when we’re reading this to her).
Hare gleefully embraces the snow, making snow prints and snow hares. Bear is less keen, sinking deep into the snow when trying to make a snow angel and getting covered in snow from a tree, becoming his own snow bear.
The snowballs that Hare pelts at him are the last straw. Cold and miserable, Bear hopes that it’s time to go home? Hare is undeterred, however, and pushes his reluctant friend to the top of a hill, where they go sledging. The look of joy on Bear’s face as they come whizzing down the hill, shows that he finally understands the magic of a snow day.
First Snow by Bomi Park, published by Chronicle Books
This is a beautifully enchanting debut picture book (shortlisted for the Klaus Fluge Prize 2017) from South Korean artist, Bomi Park.
It captures the magic and wonderment of a toddlers first glimpse of snow. The excitement builds as the first flakes start to fall, “shhh, listen.. do you hear something?”. A little face presses up against the window, drawn to the “pit, pit, pit” of the snowflakes on window pane.
In the darkness of night, the little girl bundles up warm, her red scarf one of the few flashes of colour in the monochrome illustrations, and heads out into the snow. “Pat, pat, pat. Roll, roll, roll”, the little girl begins to make a snowball, making her way through “beneath the moon” and “through the woods” as the snowball grows.
There follows some ethereal scenes with woodland creatures, polar bears and ending with a gathering of other children all building snowmen in their “first snow” experience.
Is it Christmas yet? by Jane Chapman, published by Little Tiger
This fun romp of a picture book perfectly captures the build up to Christmas, both in terms of children’s mounting excitement levels and the correlating stress levels for parents!
Baby Ted simply cannot wait until Christmas, but Big Bear has things to cross of his list before the big day. There’s the presents to wrap, cake to bake and tree to purchase then decorate. It’s ok though, Baby Ted is happy to help.
Anyone who has attempted present wrapping with toddlers “helping” will be sympathetic to Big Bear’s plight! Things come to a head when the enormous tree that Baby Ted insisted upon almost comes a cropper when they try to squeeze it in to the house.
As always though, the parents pull through and it all comes together in time for Christmas. The last scene perfectly encapsulates the joy of Christmas morning, with big, joyful smiles from Baby Ted and Big Bear, who’s hard work has all paid off.
Penguin’s Christmas Wish by Salina Yoon, published by Bloomsbury Children's Books
This is one of a series of Penguin books from Salina Yoon. We’ve really enjoyed this Christmas instalment, with its bold primary coloured illustrations and look forward to checking out some of the others.
It’s Christmas Eve and Penguin is trying to make the perfect Christmas for his family. They return to the forest, where an old friend, “Pinecone”, has grown into a magnificent Christmas tree. The Penguins set about decorating the tree and place their presents at its foot.
Alas, a storm overnight means that their Christmas morning does not go to plan. The decorations and presents have all blown away.
What follows is a lovely story of making the best of things, counting your blessings and a lovely reminder from Grandpa Penguin that “Christmas is not about decorations and presents... It is about being with the ones you love”. We couldn’t agree more.