It’s that time of the year when life starts clipping along at an alarming rate. We enjoyed the Pip-Pop’s ‘big 3’ weekend & have now reached a hitherto unknown shore in our parenting lives: for the first time, our three-year-old is also our youngest. We’re beyond nappies and now, after the grand dismantling that took place on Sunday, beyond cots too.
So, birthday over, it’s now all about Christmas. And I mean all about Christmas. The school Christmas Fair (the one I once took a two-day-old baby to!) is tomorrow. One child is singing at the Christmas market by the Cathedral this lunchtime. Another is practising his songs at pre-school for a slot at a nearby village church’s Christmas Fair next week.
The school Christmas plays are next week. An innkeeper’s costume has been sourced from the lovely lady at the charity shop who spends all year turning old curtains into bespoke nativity costumes. The child who auditioned for a ‘big’ part and came home in tears because she’s Donkey number 3 has been consoled and is ready to make donkey ears over the weekend.
‘Someone has to be a donkey,’ I said gently. ‘Yes, but we don’t need to have thirteen of them,’ she returned. It’s all part of the peril of being in, what her school still refers to as, the ‘bulge-year’ — 90 kids vying for nativity parts, rather than the usual 60 (or further up the school, 45). Parenting is like a never-ending improvisation. I can never predict what will be required of me when they come out of school.
This morning, I’ve seen five children off to their various class lines & there’s an hour before I have to set off to get the first one back, so this is going to be a little bit rough and ready but I give you my Christmas book recommendations for the small people in your life. For a slightly more organised offering, last year’s recommendations are here and here and you can also find all of the we love archive here.
Illustration school: Let’s Draw a Story by Sachiko Umoto. I’m really excited about this one. Sweet & whimsical illustrations which gradually invite a child to draw more and more as the book progresses. There are boxes of ‘tips’ on how to approach drawing various elements such as faces, buildings and food. One of a series of ‘illustration school’ books translated from the Japanese. This is going to be in the stocking of my 8-year-old.
See Inside: How Things Work by Conrad Mason & Colin King. We remain enthralled by the Usborne ‘See Inside’ series. They’re fun to share together, but our younger children also enjoy ‘reading’ them alone and exploring inside the flaps. We already have the body and train books in the same series. This one is destined for the five-year-old who should be particularly fascinated by the explanation of how a toilet works.
How the World Works by Christiane Dorion and Beverley Young. More ambitiously, but along the same lines, is this exploration of how the world works, starting with the Big Bang. It was the winner of The Royal Society’s 2011 Young People’s Book Prize. We also have the wondrous Usborne Look Inside Space, the 2013 winner of the prize. I worked for the RS for four years, and they certainly know their science. This looks like it’s going to be another winner. Aimed at slightly older children (8+), but I think that the littler ones will love it too.
Mog’s Christmas Calamity by Judith Kerr. Most excitingly of all, Judith Kerr has brought Mog out of retirement (er, well, back from beyond the grave), for this Sainsbury’s exclusive. We adore Mog’s Christmas and a second Christmassy Mog book is such a treat. It’s selling for £3 by the tills in Sainsbury’s with £2 from each book going to Save the Children’s UK literacy campaign. We watch so little TV that I hadn’t seen the accompanying ad, but I just did and I might have cried. Judith Kerr makes a wonderful cameo as the old lady who says Mog deserves a medal, but it really is her who deserves the medal. She’s 92 and a total inspiration. I love her!
So those are the books that I’m planning to tuck into stockings. I’d love to know what bookish parcels are going to find their way to the little ones in your lives — classics? new finds? Let me know!