Christmas Stories with Santa

I’ve seen Santa
by David Bedford, illustrated by Tim Warnes
(Little Tiger Press)
It’s Christmas Eve and Little Bear can’t sleep. So he creeps downstairs to see if Santa’s there.  First he finds Big Bear drinking Santa’s milk. Then he finds Big Bear eating Santa’s mince pies.  Finally Big Bear and Little Bear find Mummy Bear putting parcels in the stockings, just in case Santa can’t come. They settle down to keep watch together, but soon fall asleep. So they don’t Santa, but Santa sees them. A gentle story with plenty of humour, that’s particularly likely to appeal to those having doubts about the Santa myth.
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Merry Christmas, Little Cheeps!
by Julie Stiegemeyer, illustrated by Carol Baicker-McKee
(Bloomsbury)
The little Cheeps return for their first Christmas. Before the big day there is snow to spread their wings in, a seasonal song to sing, cookies to bake, a Santa tale to share and a tree to decorate – all that before hanging up stockings on the fireplace ready for Christmas morn.
As in the first book, the brief rhyming text has a rhythm that makes it a delight to read aloud, and the illustrations are photographs composed with furry chicks and real and sculpted objects as props and borders. This is a small format hardcover book with sturdy pages just right for the smallest hands. Those small hands though, will need a pair of adult hands to help them with the baking of the cookies, the recipe for which appears inside the front cover.
(reviewed by Jill Bennett)
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Santa’s Littlest Helper Travels the World
by Anu Stohner, illustrated by Henrike Wilson
(Bloomsbury)
An outbreak of Christmas Pox hits all Santa’s Helpers except the Chief Helper and the Littlest Helper, whose usual job is to deliver presents to the animals. Faced with the seemingly impossible task of visiting all the children on Christmas Eve, the Littlest Helper enlists some rather unconventional assistants. But can they make that trip around the world in a single night…?
The richly coloured, atmospheric pictures executed in oils have a solidity to them that is coupled with a gentle humour.
(reviewed by Jill Bennett)
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Baby Christmas
by Michael Lawrence, illustrated by Arthur Robins
(Orchard Books)
Baby Christmas’s role-play turns into reality when Rudolph Junior learns to fly. Soon the two are zooming over the rooftops and around the world. Meanwhile Mother and Father Christmas are hunting high and low for their little lost lad, “as flustered as custard, as puffed as pastry.” The family are reunited when they find their son masquerading as a snowman. But it’s not long before, with a sniffle and a sneeze, Rudolf Junior is careering off in the wrong direction once more, and it’s Baby Christmas who has the last laugh.
A hilarious seasonal romp with delightfully playful language and comical illustrations, guaranteed to raise more than a chuckle.
(reviewed by Jill Bennett)
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Santa’s Noisy Night
by Julie Sykes and Tim Warnes
(Little Tiger Press)
It’s Christmas Eve and Santa’s busy delivering presents. But he keeps making too much noise, despite being reminded not to wake the children. There’s plenty of opportunity for young children to join in with the noises and the lively pop-ups on every spread add movement and extra fun.
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The Christmas Tree Fairy
by Marion Rose, illustrated by Jason Cockcroft
(Bloomsbury)
Meredith MacCauley loves her dressing-up wings and longs to be able to fly. Then the Christmas Tree Fairy falls and Meridith has to save her. On the way, three other characters on the tree tell Meridith their greatest desires so, when she’s given three wishes, she has to decide whether to help all of them or save one wish to make herself fly. Meredith makes the unselfish decision and gets her own reward. A delightful story for fairy fans with a satisfying ending and illustrations full of Christmas colour. (Father Christmas only has a tiny part in this story.)
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Dear Father Christmas
by Alan Durant, illustrated by Vanessa Cabban
(Walker Books)
It’s the beginning of December, and Christmas preparations are being made in Lapland. When everyone else is writing Christmas lists for Santa, one little girl called Holly writes him a letter instead and is amazed next morning to find a reply in a bright red envelope stuck to the mantelpiece. So begins a chain of correspondence that culminates with Santa granting Holly’s ultimate Christmas wish, a magical sleigh ride across the starry sky. Holly’s illustrated letters are reproduced as illustrations with Santa’s replies contained in Christmas coloured, starry envelopes.
The illustrations positively glow with the reds and greens of a traditional Christmas in this unashamedly sentimental story that is bound to be loved by readers and listeners of around Holly’s age (six/sevenish).
(reviewed by Jill Bennett)
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Melrose and Croc
by Emma Chichester Clark
(Harpercollins)
Croc, a poor country visitor and Melrose, a wealthy Dachshund resident, are both looking forward to Christmas in the city. Croc wants to visit Father Christmas at Harridges and Melrose has his new apartment to decorate. But come Christmas Eve, Croc finds Santa’s not at home, and Melrose big apartment feels anything but homely with no one to share it with. Both are drawn by the sound of music to the ice rink where first they lose themselves, whirling and twirling, before finding one another with a crash! Then the Christmas fun begins …
Emma Chichester Clark’s illustrations for this story, which introduces two new characters, are rather more muted than her previous books, conjuring up a feeling of Christmases past.
(reviewed by Jill Bennett)
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One Snowy Night
by Christina M Butler, illustrated by Tina Macnaughton
(Little Tiger Press)
Little Hedgehog’s winter sleep is disturbed by a chill wind; it’s so cold in fact, he cannot get back to sleep. Then all of a sudden something lands bump! in front of him, a parcel from Father Christmas. Inside is a red woolly bobble hat, but somehow woolly hats and prickles just don’t
seem to fit each other. Perhaps Rabbit is more bobble hat shape, or Badger…
Finally Fox fits himself into it and sets off across the moonlit countryside to explore. Following a trail he uncovers an almost frozen Hedgehog beneath the snow and luckily, he has just the thing to wrap him in. A heart-warming story of friendship and caring with glowing wintry scenes and, specially for small hands, the snugly red hat has a soft velvety feel to it.
(reviewed by Jill Bennett)
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‘Twas the Night Before Christmas
by Clement Clark Moore, illustrated by Matt Tavares
(Candlewick Press)
The black and white illustrations give this edition of this famous poem a period feel which is enhanced by the dark red endpapers and the gold lettering on the hardback cover. A good choice for collectors and book lovers but small children may prefer a version with coloured pictures.
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Father Christmas
by Raymond Briggs
(Puffin)
This is completely different from a standard picture book as it uses strip pictures and there are no words except occasional comments by Father Christmas which are written in speech bubbles. The pictures tell the story of Father Christmas’ own Christmas with plenty of amusing detail and no sentimentality – an approach which appeals to a wide range of ages from 4+. The
lack of words makes it particularly suitable for  pre-readers, weak readers and older children with special needs.
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Threadbear
by Mick Inkpen
(Hodder)
Threadbear is a rather battered bear with a problem – the squeaker in his tummy has never squeaked. So on Christmas Eve he climbs the chimney to ask Father Christmas to help him and is whisked off in the sleigh to find a new one. This is one of my personal favourites and deservedly won the Children’s Book of the Year award  when it was first published.
Still a winner with 3-6 year olds
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The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe
by C.S. Lewis
(Harper Collins) Although this classic novel is not a Christmas tale pure and simple, this is an excellent time of year to introduce children to a land bewitched so it is always winter but never Christmas. The story of the struggle to defeat the White Witch is strong enough to keep competent readers turning the pages and Father Christmas himself plays an important
minor role.
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