Year: 2023

Nativity Stories

It’s our final Friday Library Recommendations of 2023, and as we head towards the Christmas holidays, I’ve chosen books on the theme of Nativity.

Once Upon A Silent Night by Dawn Casey and Katie Hickey is a timeless retelling of the nativity story told in lyrical verse with stunning, luminous illustrations, that sing of a world in unity.

It is midnight on Christmas Eve, and a child is about to be born in a stable. How can the creatures help? First, the cow offers up his manger, and the donkey gives his hay. The doves will sing the babe to sleep, the trees will watch over him, and the moon will fill his dreams with silver light. It’s a moment of magic, as a little child enters the world and brings with him the most precious gift of all: love.

Jesus’ Christmas Party by Nicholas Allan is old but gold, and tells the nativity story from the view point of a very grumpy and over tired inn keeper.

When a night of angels, shepherds and bright stars keeps him from his sleep, is there anything that will cheer him up?

Refuge by Anne Booth and Sam Usher reminds us that the journey undertaken in the nativity story is one that still happens on a daily basis where people are just trying to find a safe place for themselves and their family.

This powerful and evocative picture book, which tells the Christmas story and what follows the fleeing of Jesus, Mary and Joseph from Herod’s soldiers to Egypt has timeless crossover appeal and a poignant message that couldn’t be more relevant today.

And finally, Operation Nativity by Jenny Pearson, illustrated by Katie Kear is the most wonderfully festive, family romp with a twist as the Angel Gabriel overpowers his proclamation and puts Christmas as we know it at risk. One that will make you laugh out loud, and possibly cry too, it’s a must for fans of funny.

When Oscar and Molly rush outside to investigate a crash in the night, they’re not expecting to find a dazed Angel Gabriel wandering around their grandparents’ back garden. And they’re certainly not expecting to find themselves in a race to save Christmas. But if they don’t track down a missing shepherd, wise man, donkey and the actual Mary and Joseph, who’ve all crash-landed in Chipping Bottom, not only will Christmas cease to exist, but they will too. Operation Nativity is on.

And finally – I have been exceptionally lucky to get a sneak preview of our very first Cannon Park Primary Newspaper which will be available for sale from Monday. It costs 50p per paper and is packed with fascinating facts about our Headteacher, Christmas, Space, Sports stars and even has some festive activities to keep you busy too.

Happy reading!

Cracking Christmas Books

There are some brilliant Christmas books from picture books to non fiction if a chapter a day of an advent book isn’t enough to get you in the festive spirit. Here are a few of my favourites:

From one of my favourite picture book partnerships comes a book that tackles a perennial question: How Does Santa Go Down The Chimney? by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Jon Klassen.

When Santa arrives at a child’s house on Christmas Eve, does he go down the chimney feet first or headfirst? What if he gets stuck? What if there’s no chimney? Maybe he slides under the door, as thin as a piece of paper? Or is it possible he pours himself through the tap? What happens once he’s inside?

Deadpan comic humour in both prose and art are exactly what we’ve come to expect from this dream team, and they don’t disappoint. As scenarios become sillier, and answers further out of reach, the laughs will inevitably get louder. One thing is for certain though, this is not the answer you were looking for, but it is definitely the answer you need.

We Wish You A Merry Christmas And Other Festive Poems, chosen and illustrated by Chris Riddell is a flurry of festive verse, some more familiar than others

Christmas has long been a source of inspiration and a moment of reflection for poets, from traditional verse to modern works. This is the perfect collection for readers young and old, as gorgeous illustrations throughout bring new life to classics, including The Night Before Christmas, The Twelve Days of Christmas, Deck the Halls, We Wish You a Merry Christmas and We Three Kings.

Elsewhere, Chris has selected and responded to work from poets including Neil Gaiman, Sylvia Plath, William Wordsworth, Thomas Hardy, Hollie McNish, Sue Hardy Dawson, Roger Stevens, Benjamin Zephaniah, Clare Bevan, Sara Teasdale, A.F. Harrold, Alfred, Lord Tennyson, Ogden Nash, Robert Burns and Jackie Kay. This is a book to treasure, and to return to year after year.

For non-fiction fans, A Very Curious Christmas by Maddie Moat is the perfect book to help you count down to the big day while learning about the wide range of customs and traditions different families observe.

Maddie tackles a wide range of questions that many have pondered, from the explosive mysteries of Christmas crackers to the origin of the iconic Christmas tree in this delightful and informative non-fiction book that unravels the mysteries and wonders of the festive season.

Each chapter includes wintery activities and craft ideas, making it a perfect companion for getting into the holiday spirit. Perfect to explore year after year, this is a gift of a book that will keep on giving.

And finally, I’m going back to fiction for our third Christmas with the Carrolls in The Christmas Club by Mel Taylor-Bessent, and this time, they’re in New York!

Holly and her family are about to lead the famous Christmas parade in New York City! But there’s a hitch. They have been invited to join the exclusive Christmas Club, whose members are among the most Christmassy family in the world. They simply have to follow the mysterious White Reindeer to find the Christmas Club’s secret headquarters in Manhattan. But when the White Reindeer shows up in the middle of the Christmas parade, the Carrolls are faced with a dilemma… Should they stay, or should they go?

With loveable New York characters, a mystery surrounding Holly’s mum Snow’s real name, and a new little furry friend, this book is an absolute banger of a Christmas Cracker! The last in the trilogy, it’s a brilliant way to say goodbye to the most fabulously festive family of all.

Happy reading!

Advent Books

It’s December 1st which means it’s time to start reading books with a chapter a day between now and Christmas. I could fill this week with books just by the King Of Christmas – Mr Alex T.Smith, but there are so many more to explore!

I’m starting with The Christmas Chronicles by John Townsend and James Newman Grey which contains 24 magical Christmas stories set in the snowy North Pole as Santa prepares to deliver presents round the world on Christmas Eve.

Open each door in turn on the beautiful advent calendar-style cover to find the page number that will lead you to the next story in the series. The stories feature a cast of memorable characters, including Mr and Mrs Santa, elves, reindeer and polar bears, and are filled with humorous and breath-taking adventures.

Family, friendship and festivities are woven together to create a cosy blanket of a book that deserves to be shared with loved ones in L.D. Lapinski’s Step Father Christmas.

It’s 25 days until Christmas, and 10-year-old Harper gets a surprise when Mum announces she’s bringing her new boyfriend Nick home for the holidays! Nick seems nice enough. But why do strange Christmassy things happen whenever he’s around? Like snow falling only in the family’s garden? Or a reindeer suddenly appearing on the roof?! Harper’s convinced that Nick must be Father Christmas! And if her mum and older brother won’t believe her, she’ll just have to find a way to prove it herself…

With 25 chapters, it’s an advent calendar in book form that will leave you with a warm glow in your heart, and hunger for gingerbread and hot chocolate. And even better, this isn’t the last we’ll see of the Halls, which has made not only this Christmas but next year’s too!

My next pick is a non-fiction title, and makes the perfect gift to spread joy this Christmas – Welcome To The Museum: A Christmas Pop-Up Advent Calendar by 

In conjunction with the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, fans of the bestselling Welcome to the Museum series can now countdown to Christmas with this beautiful pop-up advent calendar. Inside, readers will find a beautiful pop-up tree, alongside a 28 page mini booklet detailing all the wonderful flora and fauna there is to discover during the autumn and winter months, from reindeer to red robins, and pear trees to poinsettia.

Hidden in compartments beneath it are 25 removable and displayable cardboard ornaments – including pine cones, holly leaves, cinnamon bundles and acorns. This is the ideal sustainable gift, and would look stunning as a centrepiece year after year. I’ll be opening this one in the library everyday so why not see if you can spot what is added each day.

And finally, I can’t choose between adventuring with Winston and friends, The Grumpus, or Clara and Fritz Strudel. What I do know is all of these books are fizzing with the essence of Christmas, full of daring friends, dazzling escapades and are a fabulous way to count through December days to Christmas Day itself.

In Alex’s latest festive treat, The Nutcracker And The Mouse King’s Christmas Shenanigans, the Mouse King is up to some very sneaky shenanigans. The night before Christmas, he steals the key to the Kingdom of Sweets and sets out to cause as much festive mayhem as he can! Clara and Fritz Strudel, and their new friend the Nutcracker, are the only ones who can stop him. But when a magical curse is put on Fritz, it’s a race against time to make it to the Kingdom of Sweets and find the Sugar Plum Fairy – the only one who can break the spell! Can the adventurers stop the Mouse King’s naughty plan and save Fritz, before it’s too late?

Happy reading!