Testing … just to get you started: Father Christmas, by Raymond Briggs

Father Christmas by Raymond Briggs

The holidays are a time for old familiar rituals. One favourite Christmas book of Ook’s is Raymond Briggs’ Father Christmas. You might also be familiar with Briggs as the author of beloved picture book The Bear.

Father Christmas and Father Christmas Goes On Holiday aren’t conventional picture books. They’re written and illustrated in comic-book  from, with many panels on each page and only a few words. They’re not meant for reading out loud, but they’re definitely something the whole family can sit down and enjoy together. Much of the story is carried in the art, as is the humour. Father Christmas is an overworked, crotchety man who dreams of holidays in the sun. He lives alone with his cat, dog, two deer (called “the deers”) and a small flock of hens who provide his breakfast eggs. He is not a lover of the season. “Blooming Christmas here again,” he mutters, waking up on December 24th, his dreams of a deckchair on the beach shattered. The pictures follow him as he does his chores, fixes his breakfast, says good-bye to dog and cat, and heads off on his rounds, grumbling all the way about tight chimneys, soot, the modern tendency to leave a bottle of Coke instead of a nice glass of brandy …. He gets tangled in tv aerials, parks on a lighthouse’s beam of light to make a delivery off the coast of Scotland, and finishes up at Buckinghmam Palace, returning home, nodding off in his sleigh, just as the sun is rising. That’s not the end of his day. There are his animals to take care of and his own Christmas dinner to prepare. (And a stack of travel brochures to read.) Take your time over it and ask your kids to help you explore the details: his teeth in the glass at his bedside, chamber pots under a farmhouse bed, his dog watching sadly from the window as he goes off to work, weather headlines in his newspaper promising yet more snow.

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One thought on “Testing … just to get you started: Father Christmas, by Raymond Briggs

  1. Vicky

    Thanks for reminding me of this book! I used to read it every year out of the public library when I was young, one of my Christmas favourites. The way the art tells the story is amazing. I especially like the end where Father Christmas celebrates his own Christmas, with the last thing he does before going to bed being to give Dog and Cat their presents, the end of his year’s work. He’s a curmudgeon but you can see so much affection in his own little family. Father Christmas on Holiday is quite funny too, with all the complaints about foreign food giving him tummy ache and the sleigh turned into a camping trailer. I’ll have to look for these again in my local library to read with my kids now.

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