Once in Royal David's City - Story Snug

Dec 18th: Colin West chooses Once in Royal David’s City

I’m choosing a real oldie as my favourite, Once in Royal David’s City, published in 1956, it’s almost as old as me!

The Story: Once in Royal David’s City — the story of the Nativity simply told by Kathleen Lines and published by the OUP — is really a showcase for Harold Jones and his great talent as a picture book artist. The story unfolds in a series of alternate colour and black and white spreads, (a money saving device common in the 1950s) which actually works in Jones’ favour, as his understated black and white work is as delightful as his colour.

Why is Once in Royal David’s City your favourite Christmas book?

I like this book because it has great charm typical of Harold Jones. Although I was the ideal age for the book when first published, I only came upon it later in life as an adult. But I like to take it from the shelf now each Christmas and marvel at it once more!

Can you describe a favourite illustration or give a favourite quote from the story and tell us why you chose it?

It’s difficult choosing a favourite illustration, but I suppose I could hardly NOT pick the one of the newly born Christ in his manger. Harold Jones has an interesting technique of “fading” his double spreads at the centre to avoid the problem of the book’s gutter. Everything is always carefully composed in his illustrations, and although this gives a somewhat static look, I enjoy the overall effect.

Author: Kathleen Lines / Illustrator: Harold Jones

About Colin

Colin West was born in 1951 and studied Graphic Design at Wolverhampton Polytechnic, and Illustration at the Royal College of Art, London.

Shortly after graduating in 1975, his first book, a collection of nonsense verse was published. Since then he has written over sixty more children’s books, and aims to continue till he runs out of ideas!

Colin’s Website / Twitter

Which book is on your Christmas wishlist this year?

On my own Christmas list this year is Martin Salisbury’s A Hundred Great Children’s Picture Books. I’m wondering if he’s chosen anything by Harold Jones.

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One response to “Dec 18th: Colin West chooses Once in Royal David’s City”

  1. Catherine avatar

    Thank you so much for sharing your favourite festive book on Story Snug’s Advent Calendar, the cover of this book is absolutely beautiful 🙂