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.