The Story: Two small children prepare for a traditional family Christmas. The story begins with them stirring the pudding, and ends with them seen through the window on the evening of Christmas Day, their home all lit up and shining out into the darkness, beneath a message for us all: on earth peace, good will toward men.
This book is nearly 35 years old, and has some elements that might seem anachronistic – the Salvation Army band plays in the street, there is no television in sight – but at its heart it is timeless. The small details of children’s lives are captured perfectly: making cards and paper chains, choosing small gifts and finding a good hiding place for them, posting a letter up the chimney. The anticipation is almost the most important part.
Can you describe a favourite illustration or give a favourite quote from the story and tell us why you chose it?
My favourite illustration is of the market where Lucy and Tom go with their Dad to choose the Christmas tree. Like much of the book, the warm wintry palette and lights shining at night give the reader an intensely thrilling Christmassy feeling. It is recognisably Portabello Road, round the corner from where we lived.
My favourite part of the story, though, is when Tom gets ‘tired and rather cross’ and has a soothing walk in the snow with Grandpa. It is a universal moment: what family doesn’t know how this feels…
Author / Illustrator: Shirley Hughes (Clara’s Mum)
I was born in London and studied at Chelsea School of Art, The Ruskin and the Royal Academy. I began illustrating picture books when I had children of my own. I’ve since written and illustrated many stories, collaborating with my mother on the Dixie O’Day series. I live in Twickenham, with my husband and two daughters, Leah and Martha.
Mango and Bambang written by Polly Faber.
Next year sees the publication of Mango and Bambang Tapir All At Sea, also written by Polly Faber.
Clara is the illustrator of the Dixie O’Day stories written by Shirley Hughes. The fifth book, Dixie O’Day On His Bike, will be published next year.
Clara’s new fiction series Dotty Detective will also be published next year.
Which book is on your Christmas wishlist this year?
I am hoping for Maps by Aleksandra Mizielinska and Daniel Mizielinski, which I’ve been admiring on other people’s kitchen tables for a while now.
Story Snug’s 2015 Advent Calendar on Pinterest