Louise Brierley - The Twelve Days of Christmas - Story Snug
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Dec 3rd: Sarah Massini chooses The Twelve Days of Christmas illustrated by Louise Brierley

The Story: The traditional song, The Twelve Days of Christmas, beautifully and stylishly illustrated.

Why is The Twelve Days of Christmas your favourite Christmas book?

It was published around the time I was at art college and my copy of the book dates from that time – probably a Christmas present to myself. I was studying graphic design, but in truth I desperately wanted to be an illustrator as gifted and talented as Louise Brierley. I love her very personal and stylish take on the familiar Christmas song. The illustrations are rendered in a classical, traditional way, and yet they manage to look modern too, with quirky styling and unusual compositions. Simply, the illustrations are very beautiful.

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

A tough choice! Perhaps…
On the ninth day of Christmas
My true love sent to me
Nine drummers drumming….

The design of the image is really original. It’s composed mainly of elbows! But so much expression is captured in those elbows: the eagerness and military precision of the drummers; and the exasperation in the lady-recipient’s elbows on her table. She looks really fed up with the whole business at this point. The stark(ish) colours – red coats and white tablecloth – echo the sharpness of all those elbows. It’s a clever and super-stylish way of avoiding having to paint so many figures, and is a perfect illustration (please excuse the pun) of why, generally speaking, ‘less is more’.

The Twelve Days of Christmas day 9 - Story Snug

About Sarah

Sarah Massini - Story Snug

Art was very much the constant during a childhood spent globe-trotting, and art college was an obvious final destination. After graduating in 1986 with a 1st in Graphics, my career was initially design-focused and included the creation of Royal Mail stamps, Bloomsbury Publishing’s logo, and the design and art direction of over 100 children’s books. Then redundancy and motherhood came along. They were happy catalysts which enabled me to jack in the 9-to-5, and become an illustrator myself, rather than enviously watch others from the sidelines.

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Which book is on your Christmas wishlist this year?

I’m doing a ‘How to Write Picture Books’ masterclass in January, as I’d love to be writing as well as illustrating. So some ‘how to’ literature in support of this new year’s resolution would be great.

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2 responses to “Dec 3rd: Sarah Massini chooses The Twelve Days of Christmas illustrated by Louise Brierley”


  1. Louisa avatar

    It looks like a wonderful book. I always like to buy a new Christmas themed book for the children each year. This is definitely one to add to our collection. #mmbc


    1. Catherine avatar

      I haven’t bought any new Christmas books this year. We have quite a few already including Britta Teckentrup’s edition of The Twelve Days of Christmas.

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