The Story: It’s a simple account of the preparations for a family Christmas and the day itself, told with Hughes’ characteristic warmth and eye for detail. It recalls much of my own childhood experience of the day and captures the essence of what I would love my own children to remember eventually. Every family’s traditions at Christmas are slightly different of course, and some elements of the book may have dated but I still don’t think there is a better account of childish anticipation and the sheer excitement of Christmas time.
Why is this your favourite Christmas book?
I first came across it in our library when my boys were very small, fell in love, wanted my own copy and then discovered it was out of print. Since then, withdrawing it every year when the Christmas stock is put out has become a family tradition: We stalk the shelves from October- ready to pounce on their battered old copy as soon as it appears. I’m almost sad that this sport has come to an end as the book has just been reissued in a gorgeous new edition!
Even though my children are now 9 and 10, we still do a formal reread every year and pore over the details together. Like many of Shirley Hughes’ stories it always gives me a lump in the throat at the end. It’s about Christmas traditions and reading it has itself become one of ours.
Can you describe a favourite illustration or give a favourite quote from the story and tell us why you chose it?
I love the list and picture of all the presents the children have carefully made and hidden away for family members, and the weary parents in bed on Christmas morning surrounded by wrapping paper: “Imagine not wanting to wake up early on Christmas Day!” and later the picture of grumpy Tom, clutching a toy and chocolate in a lopsided paper hat: “Christmas can be quite tiring.” All very familiar!
Author / Illustrator: Shirley Hughes
Polly Faber is the author of Mango & Bambang; the Not-a-Pig, illustrated by Clara Vulliamy and published by Walker Books. She lives in North London with her family and volunteers for reading charity Beanstalk.
Mango and Bambang’s website
Which book is on your Christmas wishlist this year?
Lots! I’m going to be buying Brian Selznick’s ‘The Marvels’ supposedly for my son but really for me. Pierre the Maze Detective by Hiro Kamigaki looks just what is required for that post- Christmas lunch “tiring” time too…
Story Snug’s 2015 Advent Calendar on Pinterest