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Christmas 2018 – Children’s Book Round-Up

We ho-ho-hope you are ready to curl up with a good book this Christmas time! Here are our favourite festive stories published this year.


1. The Snowman

Michael Morpurgo (author) & Robin Shaw (illustrator) – based on the classic story by Raymond Briggs.

Available here

Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without Raymond Briggs’ classic story The Snowman, which celebrates its fortieth anniversary this year. To celebrate, a new novelised adaptation has been published by award-winning children’s author Michael Morpurgo, bringing all the magic of the original tale into a narrative form.


A boy named James is so excited when snow arrives on his farm that he rushes outside to build the snowman he has been longing to create. Wonderfully, the snowman comes to life and gives James a magical adventure that he will never forget. Morpurgo’s short chapter book is as loyal to the original as a prose version can be, with one or two developments, like the heartwarming relationship between James and his Grandma. Like the original, this version is also tinged with poignancy as we watch the snowman melt away, just as the excitement of the Christmas season always dissolves when the festivities come to an end, leaving behind only happy memories and a reminder of how precious time with our loved ones can be.


To many children the story is already a familiar one, if not from the original book then from the televised animation faithfully aired each festive season. To those unfamiliar with Briggs’ original, Morpurgo’s adaptation is likely to bring the joy of a classic story to a new generation of readers. This cherished story that never loses its magical appeal, as retold in the beautiful words of one our nation’s favourite children’s authors, is bound to be a favourite for many to curl up with this Christmas.


You can also find accompanying classroom resources 


Publisher: Puffin

Publication date: 18th October 2018


Order The Snowman online here.


2. The Dog That Saved Christmas

Nicola Davies (author) & Mike Byrne (illustrator) Available here

Popular children’s author Nicola Davies returns with another wonderful book that draws out the special relationship between children and animals – this time with a festive twist. Published in Barrington Stoke’s ‘super-readable’ and dyslexia-friendly style, this is a short chapter book that readers will find easy to pick up and hard to put down.


Jake stands out from many of the other children at his school and Christmas is a time that is especially difficult for him, with the bright lights, loud noises and changes in routines causing him a great deal of anxiety. When Jake befriends a lost dog, which he calls Susan, a beautiful bond begins to form that helps Jake to stay calm and cope with the difficulties he faces. After a while, Susan’s real owners turn up to reclaim their missing dog and Jake and his family need to find a way forward while their world feels like it has fallen apart.


This is a touching and inclusive story that is well suited for the 6-8 age bracket or for less confident readers in the upper primary years. Readers will find the story engaging and are likely to feel deeply empathetic towards Jake. The narrative sensitively explores the idea that Christmas is not an easy time for everybody, while also drawing out festive values of family, kindness and compassion for those in need.


Publisher: Barrington Stoke

Publication date: 15th October 2018


Order The Dog That Saved Christmas here.


3. How Winston Delivered Christmas

Alex T. Smith

Available here

A cross between a Christmas story and an advent calendar, this charming hardback book is structured into 24½ chapters – one for each day of advent. Each day’s offering includes the next chapter of the story and easy-to-follow instructions for an accompanying craft to make or activity to try.


Winston is a little mouse who finds himself caught up in a special adventure with a festive theme. When Winston stumbles across a lost letter addressed to Father Christmas, he makes it his mission to deliver the letter to the North Pole in time for Christmas. It’s not an easy expedition, but along the way Winston is helped by a cast of generous friends and helpful strangers. This is a heart-warming story that celebrates simple acts of kindness towards other people.


Alex T. Smith’s illustrations are just as endearing as the story itself, not sparing any Christmas spirit (look out for a whole host of Christmas icons including gingerbread men, robins, Christmas shoppers and a nativity scene) and picking up on the same brand of gentle humour and cheerful tone that characterises the narrative. Together with the craft activities, this is a wonderful book for families, groups or school classes to enjoy exploring together in the run-up to Christmas.


Publisher: Macmillan Children’s

Publication date: 18th October 2018


Order How Winston Delivered Christmas here.


4. The Night I Met Father Christmas

Ben Miller & Daniela Jaglenka Terrazzini

Available here

The Night I Met Father Christmas is a new story with the feel of a Christmas classic, written by comedian Ben Miller. Take A Christmas Carol and mix it with ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas and you might be somewhere close to the plot of this enjoyable tale that will prove popular with readers in the 7-10 age bracket.


It’s Christmas Eve and everyone in Jackson’s family is busy getting ready for the big day. Jackson thinks he knows all the old stories about Father Christmas, including the secrets of flying reindeer and the physics-defying magic of delivering presents all around the world in just one night. But when Father Christmas reaches Jackson’s house in the middle of the night and has a bit of a mishap, Jackson embarks upon a thrilling adventure that allows him to see a whole new side to the jolly man with the red suit.


As Father Christmas opens up to Jackson about his personal history, an exciting story unfolds that will take readers on a festive adventure laced with the perfect balance of humour and tenderness. For a chapter book, it’s not a long read (you could easily read it in one or two sittings) but it is a very enjoyable one. Coupled with detailed illustrations by Daniela Jaglenka Terrazzini, this is a charming story that will bring the spirit of Christmas to readers young and old alike.


Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children’s UK

Publication date: 1st November 2018


Order The Night I Met Father Christmas here.


5. Silent Night

Lara Hawthorne

Available here


The Christmas carol ‘Silent Night’ is familiar to many, but how often do people pause to think about what the words mean?

Lara Hawthorne brings the classic Christmas song to life in this beautifully illustrated hardback picture book. Dedicating each double-page spread to a different rhyming couplet from the original carol, this book tells the story of the nativity through vibrant illustrations that are teeming with a mood of joy and good news.


The brightly drawn characters and settings in the story are placed against a deep black sky with clusters of stars. Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus are depicted as dark-skinned and there are plenty of nods to middle Eastern patterns in the stylised designs. What I enjoyed the most is the way the illustration captures the way the original carol – and the nativity story itself – conveys an equal measure of peacefulness and joyful celebration.


A worthy addition to your collection of nativity story books.

Publisher: Lincoln Children’s Books

Publication date: 30th October 2018


Order Silent Night here.


6. Snowball

Sue Hendra & Paul Linnet

Available here

Fans of the Supertato books will be pleased to see the award-winning picture book duo return this Christmas with a hilarious wintertime story full of snow-themed giggles and frolics. The story has a festive setting (complete with robins and Christmas lights in the illustrations) without overtly referring to Christmas itself.


Snowball feels a little lonely, gazing down at the nearby town below and longing for a bit more fun. With a ‘jiggy, jig, jig’ he sets off down the hillside. Snowball underestimates the steepness of the slope and begins to skid and tumble. Rolling faster and faster, he gathers more snow (not to mention a random assortment of other items) as he goes and things soon begin to…well, snowball out of control.


Heaps of fun and tremendously silly, young children will love the rhyming text and the escalating excitement in this story. Perfect for a giggly story time on a cold, wintry day.


Publisher: Macmillan Children’s

Publication date: 18th October 2018


Order Snowball here.


7. Grandpa Christmas

Michael Morpurgo (Author) & Jim Field (Illustrator)

Available here

Michael Morpurgo teams up with illustrator Jim Field to bring a new festive picture book that beautifully weaves together Christmas past, present and future.


Every year at Christmas time, Mia and her family have a tradition to read out a letter that her Grandpa once wrote to her. In the letter, Grandpa fondly reminisces about the lovely activities they used to enjoy together, such as looking for frogs in the garden or planting flower seeds. At the same time, Grandpa expresses his worries about the world and his heartfelt wishes for it to be a better place for Mia to live her life in. The natural world is in danger, Grandpa muses, and it is up to people like Mia to look after our beautiful planet and make sure we protect our environment as much as we can.


Nostalgic and emotive in both its words and illustrations, this new story steers away from traditional Christmas messages and offers instead a powerful and timely statement about looking after our environment, told through the voice of an old man who treasures his grandchild so much that he longs for a better world for her.


Publisher: Egmont

Publication date: 4th October 2018


Order Grandpa Christmas here.




Thank you to the publishers at Penguin, Barrington Stoke and Quarto Kids for kindly sending me review copies. See also:

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