Tag Archives: Rebecca Harry

The Winter Fox / Presents Through the Window

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The Winter Fox
Timothy Knapman and Rebecca Harry
Nosy Crow
As summer gives way to autumn, a little fox is too busy enjoying himself romping in the flowers and chasing butterflies to pay heed to his friends, Rabbit, Owl and Squirrel as they prepare for the long winter that’s to come. He plays through the autumn too …

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and come winter when the other animals are all snuggled cosily in their nests, Fox is alone out in the forest.
Cold and hungry, he makes a wish beneath a star. What happens then changes the course of events not only for Fox but for the other forest creatures too.

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Full of wintry warm-heartedness and friendship, and just enough seasonal sparkle, this is a story to share with young listeners in the weeks leading up to Christmas. They’ll need to look carefully at the sky to discover where that surprise parcel came from.

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Presents Through the Window
Taro Gomi
Chronicle Books
It’s Christmas Eve and Santa is out on his present delivery round. He has an unconventional mode of transport and seems in rather a rush. So much so that his quick peep through the (die-cut) window of each house before dropping off a gift will result in some rather inappropriate offerings being received come Christmas morning.

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Part of the fun is that by turning the page, readers will discover the identities of the gifts recipients and relish each mis-match.

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Santa in contrast never does learn the outcome of his hasty choices: another part of the fun is imagining the reactions of the recipients. However the most fun of all is seeing how everything works out just fine come Christmas morning.
The entire text is composed of Santa’s utterances presented in speech bubbles as a running commentary – literally – directed to his audience as he moves from one home to the next. Simple, clever and highly effective.

An Animal Kind of Christmas

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Happy Hooves Oh! Oh! Oh!
A.Bogie and Rebecca Elliott
Fat Fox Books
Christmas Eve brings excitement for the Happy Hooves brigade. Galvanised by Cow’s urging to get their homes spick and span in readiness for Santa’s visit, they stir from their afternoon slumbers and set off to clean up their respective abodes. But a terrible realization soon dawns for first home, Pig: he has no chimney for Santa to come down. Sheep offers to put him up but then he too remembers he has no chimney.

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Both flee to Donkey’s abode but the same applies here. Off they go to Foal’s but once again it’s a case of a chimneyless residence. What use are sparkling clean homes if Santa can’t get in? It’s not Ho! Ho! Ho! but Oh! Oh! Oh! The despairing friends seek out Cow.
Oh Cow, this news will make you glum,
We’ve got no chimneys for Santa to come!
Fortunately Cow knows that Santa will deliver his gifts anywhere just so long as a mince pie is left to welcome him. However, she makes the others an offer they can’t refuse and so, panic over, gathered together in Cow’s warm barn, they hear that, now welcome, ‘Ho! Ho! Ho!‘ of Santa in the distance.

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Snow Bunny’s Christmas Gift
Rebecca Harry
Nosy Crow
As Snow Bunny snuggly wrapped in her red cape, joins her friends Mouse, Fox and Bear in the snow just before Christmas, she’s full of anticipation at the fun they’ll have. Sledging is first but the chill wind sends Mouse scampering for the warmth of her home.

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Ice-skating makes Fox shiver so he too departs, then when the snow starts falling in the forest, Bear heads off home leaving a sad Snow Bunny all alone. On her way home she discovers a coin shining in the moonlight and off she goes to Badger’s shop. There she buys something that, after a lot of hard work with her knitting needles, means that her friends need never feel cold again. Fox, Mouse and Bear all have their warm Christmas gifts but their creator has the very best present of all – their friendship.

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A warm-hearted, tenderly told tale full of the true spirit of the season and with added sparkly touches at every turn of the page.
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The Sheep that Saved Christmas
Jason Page and Adrian Reynolds
Red Fox pbk
Unfortunately for her flock-mates, Cynthia, is a sheep obsessed with Christmas, starting her anticipation of the festival in January. Fortunately for them however, maths is not her strong point so they come up with a cunning plan to pack her off on an extended holiday far away. And where do they dispatch her? – To the North Pole where Cynthia begs Santa to give her a job as one of his helpers. Seemingly though, she isn’t cut out to be a present wrapper, nor a cook’s assistant or even a sleigh puller. A disappointed Cynthia is on the point of heading home when she learns that disaster has befallen Santa himself. Christmas is cancelled, he announces but Cynthia thinks otherwise. Finally, the determined ewe gets her chance to save the day …

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Crazy, seasonal fun illustrated with Reynolds’ characteristic verve and humour. Cynthia’s changing fortunes are captured beautifully in her facial expressions and body language.
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Yikes, Santa-Claws!
Pamela Buchart and Sam Lloyd
Bloomsbury Children’s Books pbk.
Frivolous Christmas frolics dinosaur style delivered by the creators of Yikes Stinkysaurus …
Who is that green scaly creature sporting a red hat and beard and coming down the chimney as the dino-tots snuggle up in bed eagerly awaiting Santa’s visit on Christmas Eve? It’s one Santa-Claws and it seems he’s hell bent on wreaking havoc and wrecking Christmas at their and every other home too. It’s just as well then, that a sparkling tree stops him dead in his tracks

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just as the real Santa arrives to put a stop to all the mischief and mayhem caused by this imposter and making Santa-Claws to see the error of his ways.
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Christmas is Coming part 2

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I Love You Father Christmas
Giles Andreae and Emma Dodd
Orchard Books
A small child’s delight in the festive season is lovingly portrayed through Giles Andreae’s bouncy rhyme, which is actually a letter to Father Christmas, and Emma Dodd’s characteristically bright, bold pictures.

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The latter have enormous child appeal and her jolly scenes of a totally endearing character should reassure any young child who is slightly nervous about Santa.
One to give to the youngest children.
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Are You Ready For Christmas?
Helen Lang
Templar Publishing
It’s Christmas Eve and Reindeer meets and greets friends Mouse, Squirrel and Dove. Each tells him of their special last minute preparations but then Reindeer seems to have forgotten what his special role is. The final fold-out reveals all.

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This is actually in board book format but I think this rhyming story could be enjoyed by children beyond that stage too. With its bold, coloured lines, patterns and touches of sparkle, Helen Lang’s artwork is quirky and charming. The scenes set against the dark night sky are particularly striking.
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Lollipop and Grandpa and the Christmas Baby
Penelope Harper and Cate James
Phoenix Yard Books pbk
When Lollipop receives the news that there’s to be a new addition to her family and that it will arrive just in time for Christmas, she is far from enthusiastic. Crying, stinky and attention grabbing is what she thinks of babies. “Christmas is ruined!” she feels as the infant’s arrival time draws ever closer. Fortunately for Lollipop, Grandpa is on hand to involve her in all the festive preparations and when on Christmas Eve, Dad and Mum have to leave her to go to the hospital, he helps her hang up the stockings. But on Christmas morning, although Santa has left presents, her Mum and Dad still haven’t come back. It’s over to Grandpa once again – to do the Christmas dinner this time. And even if it’s not quite the conventional festive meal her parents might have expected, it does have that Wow factor. So too does the tiny Christmas Baby that Dad is holding all wrapped up and definitely NOT crying.
This, the fifth of the series, is as enjoyable as the others and Lollipop should win some new friends with this seasonal goodie.
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Belle and Boo and the Merry Christmas
Mandy Sutcliffe
Orchard Books
The fourth in this series about a little girl and her rabbit friend (toy or real?) sees the inseparable pair getting ready for Christmas. First they decorate the tree and Belle has to explain to Boo what Christmas entails and then together they put up paper-chains, make cards and Christmas cookies, hang up their stocking and finally snuggle up for the night. Then, next morning after opening their respective presents, Boo decides they should share the joys of Christmas with their animal friends outside in the garden.
A gentle, slightly whimsical story with an old-fashioned charm, illustrated in appropriately soft colours. with just a touch of festive sparkle on the cover.
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Father Christmas Comes Up Trumps!
Nicholas Allan
Red Fox pbk
A few years back, Father Christmas was in need of a wee; now he needs something much more explosive. It’s the result of his over indulgence in – wait for it – Brussels sprouts – on his final supper before departing on his Christmas Eve delivery round. With his wind-filled tum, it’s a good thing that Santa is accompanied by his helpful elf who is on hand to push him down chimneys and utter ‘Sssshhh!“ warnings when those bubbling, rumbling, gurgling sounds start to emanate from his explosive belly. Santa does his level best to keep his wind in but his utterance of “Ooooo! my tum – it’s going to start. This time I’m really going to f . . . !” signals that the effort has become just too much. Out comes a ‘cheep’ and its time to run from the stirring child. But, horror of horrors! His reindeers are totally zonked in the sleigh. Perhaps it’s as well then that the elf’s final exhortation goes unheeded: time to make use of that WIND power to launch the sleigh skywards and homewards. PWHOOOAH!
As before, this slightly risqué humour will have young children wriggling on their bottoms in delight especially, in anticipation of the final grand
F F A A A R R T T !
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A Letter for Bear
David Lucas
Flying Eye Books
Bear is a postman, painstakingly ensuring he delivers every letter in his sack to the correct address each day and then trudging back to his cave to drink soup and wonder what it would be like to get a letter himself. The trouble is Bear never sends any letters. One windy day when out on his round, the wind takes the mailbag scattering the contents all over the snow. Bear collects all the letters but the addresses are smudged so he conscientiously knocks on each door to ensure correct delivery. The recipients are thankful but Bear feels even lonelier as he returns to his cave. Time for a change, he thinks as he gazes out at the snowy night. He sets to work writing Christmas party invitations and next morning he delivers a whole snowstorm of letters to his new acquaintances.

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That evening having waited for ages and ages, Bear is about to give up when he hears voices outside. It’s party time after all and even better, the following morning guess who gets a whole sackful of letters of his very own.
The real strength of this book is Lucas’ intricately patterned illustrations. Almost every double spread has a geometric border of patterned triangles, rectangles, diamonds or scallops and set into some of the scenes, we view Bear’s lonely world through circular peephole vignettes. His use of limited colours – shades of blue, orange, purple, russet, pink and orange and his use of geometric shapes for, or to pattern, trees, buildings, flowers and more, add to the impact. Then there are angled viewpoints, interrupted borders and beautiful snowscapes . This book is a small masterpiece of design.
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The Smallest Gift of Christmas
Peter H. Reynolds
Walker Books
Having eagerly anticipated the great day, Roland is less than impressed when he dashes downstairs on Christmas morning to discover a very small parcel awaiting him. So, he wishes for a larger one again and again and … Still not satisfied he storms off and eventually launches himself in a rocket to search the whole universe. It’s not until he glimpses Earth as a tiny dot growing ever smaller through his telescope, that Roland begins to realize that bigger isn’t always better, unless of course, it’s your home and you are heading back towards it.
A simple message amusingly rendered through Reynolds’ comic scenes. This author/artist has the unfailing knack of getting right to the nub of things every time and, he clearly demonstrates with all his books, that small things can often be among the very best.
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Alfie’s Christmas
Shirley Hughes
Bodley Head
Making cards and decorations, counting down the days with an advent calendar featuring a nativity scene, Christmas cooking, buying and decorating a Christmas tree, choosing and wrapping presents, writing to Santa, carol singing, hanging up Christmas stockings and a family Christmas dinner with visiting relatives:

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these are just some of the ingredients of four-year old Alfie’s Christmas so lovingly told and illustrated in Shirley Hughes incomparable style.
This is a traditional family Christmas full of warmth, friendship, love, bustle and excitement, and some secrets too. It’s Christmas as we would wish it to be for everyone, before Christmas started in October and consumerism took over.
A book to buy and cherish year after year.
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Find and buy from your local bookseller:http://www.booksellers.org.uk/bookshopsearch

Don’t forget:
Snow Bunny’s Christmas Wish
Rebecca Harry Nosy Crow pbk
Lonely Snow Bunny’s Christmas wish is for a friend so she writes to Santa with her request.
For full review of this lovely story, now in paperback, see Seasonal Selection: Christmas Books 2012

Also reviewed there and now in paperback is :
When It Snows
Richard Collingridge
David Fickling Books pbk
A small boy’s favourite book transports him on a magical snowy Christmas adventure .