Author / Illustrator: Raymond Briggs
The Story: It’s got to be Father Christmas, written and illustrated by the wonderful Raymond Briggs, in which we discover what it might really be like to BE Father Christmas.
The story is told in comic strip style with no verbal narrative and there’s nothing more than a smattering of dialogue. This means it does require some work if you are going to ‘read’ it to someone else, but it’s a book to pore over many times, either together or alone. It’s one that repays re-reading at different ages – all the way to adult.
It has to be said that Briggs’ FC is a tad grumpy. But who can blame him? He’s just having a lovely dream of a sunny holiday when the alarm clock wakes him on December 24th.”Blooming Christmas here again!” We see him set about his chores, making a pot of tea, feeding his reindeer and his cat and dog, getting into his long johns and red trousers. We see all the mundane activities of his life, even joining him on a visit to the chilly outside toilet. FC is extremely thorough – he’s a creature of habit and he’s obviously done this Christmas lark many, many times before – but eventually he’s ready, and at last we see him fly! He makes his way through every kind of weather and deliveries are made to every kind of home: palaces, igloos, houses and caravans. Finally Father Christmas, his nose perhaps a little redder from all the cold – or is it the tots of brandy he enjoys – gets to go home to his modest house, his dog and his cat, and enjoy a quiet Christmas of his own.
Can you describe a favourite illustration or give a favourite quote from the story and tell us why you chose it.
With so many illustrations to choose from it’s hard to come up with a favourite but I’m going to plump for FC’s snowy rooftop picnic stop, where the reindeer tuck into a sack of oats while their owner growls at his portable radio which forecasts snow, ice, frost, sleet, hail and rain!
I write picture books, early readers and novels. This year I published The Dressing-Up Dad with illustrator, Paul Howard. Just now I’m wishing for an extra illustration, I’m wondering what Danny and his Dad dress up as at Christmas time. Paul?!
Which book is on your Christmas wishlist this year?
If Father Christmas makes it as far as my stocking this year, I’m hoping to receive a copy of Frances Hardinge’s A Skinful of Shadows. I loved The Lie Tree and Hardinge’s prose is absolutely stunning, as is her imagination. I know it will be a winner.
2017 Story Snug Advent Calendar on Pinterest