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Stories with Father Christmas

Lucky Wish Mouse: White Christmas
by Clara Vulliamy
(Orchard Books)
Christmas Eve is here and Lucky Wish Mouse (winged) and the ten Tinies still have things to do. They have a tree to decorate but no decorations, festive biscuits to bake, Christmas lists to complete and, of course, a special snack to prepare for Santa. At last all is ready, the stockings are hung and its time for bed – everyone waits … but where are their Christmas presents? Tiniest Tiny decides to venture out into the snowy night. Will she find Christmas?
     This is one of those stories that evokes the response ‘How sweet’. It is a cosy story in every sense of the word and why not, especially at Christmas. Secreted in the back cover there is a matchbox, containing a tiny ‘Lucky Wish Mouse’ to put under your pillow for a magical Christmas wish. Alternatively it could be used as a character in the story.
(reviewed by Jill Bennett)
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The Happiest Man in the World
by Mij Kelly, illustrated by Louise Nisbet
(Hodder)
This large picture book is printed on extra thick pages and, with its gold endpapers, oozes opulence. However the main character, Mouse, has anything but an opulent life style, begging, borrowing or stealing her needs from wherever she can find them and generally eking out a miserable existence. Until, that is, the arrival of someone even more miserable than her, the new owner of what he says is his house. Mouse’s attempts to make the stranger happy lead the pair on a journey towards happiness that changes them both so that each is able to rediscover who they really are. Mouse’s journey with Father Christmas - for that’s who the old man actually is - proves to be truly joyful for all concerned and happiness once more breaks out all over the world.
   There is a magical, folksy quality to the illustrations, which have a very central European look to them.
(reviewed by Jill Bennett)
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Dear Father Christmas
by Jeanne Willis and Rosie Reeve
(Puffin)
Jeanne Willis has penned a Dear Santa letter from a small girl, Mary, requesting a number of somewhat unusual items for Christmas. These include a special monster-scaring spray, an immortal hamster and a little baby brother. To reveal her final wish would spoil the story ending. Buy it, read it and then give it to someone around Mary’s age (sixish).
   This book is a testament to letter writing with soft, glowing illustrations that are a delight; and there’s an added bonus – a detachable letter template and a page of stickers taken form the Rosie Reeves’ artwork.
(reviewed by Jill Bennett)
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A Present for Father Christmas
by David Wood and Dana Kubick story
(Walker Books)
One Christmas, a grateful Sam decides that Father Christmas should have present of his own so he stars saving up his pocket money, a little each week for a whole year. Finally, a week before the big day, he pens a note to Father Christmas asking him to call and collect his gift; but choosing what to give causes something of a dilemma. Then comes the realisation that the very best presents are not material things at all.
The art work for this pop-up has a somewhat old-fashioned charm about it and there is a delightful fold-out 3-D peep show Christmas house to round off the story.
(reviewed by Jill Bennett)
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Where teddy bears come from
by Mark Burgess and Russell Ayto
(Puffin)
After another sleepless night, a little grey wolf, certain that a cuddly bear will help cure his insomnia, sets out next morning to discover the answer to his all important question, ‘Where do teddy bears come from’. His journey takes him deep into the forest to consult Wise Owl. But that’s only the start of a quest that sends our small ursine friend to call upon Three Little Pigs and Little Red Riding Hood. As he searches for Goldilocks, he encounters an old rosy-faced man in need of some extra air to puff up a flat tyre. Obliging Little Wolf huffs and puffs and in return receives a promise of an answer to his question the following morning.
A wonderfully quirky, different Christmas tale with lots of traditional characters included in the package. Add to this Ayto’s collage illustrations with their marvellous angularity and you’ve got pretty much what the publishers say, a ‘perfect Christmas story’.
(reviewed by Jill Bennett)
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Russell’s Christmas Magic
by Rob Scotton
(Harper Collins)
When Santa and his sleigh crash land in Firefly Wood, breaking both sleigh and the Christmas spell, it seems Santa will have to cancel Christmas. However, he has reckoned without the carpentry and welding skills of Russell the Sheep. After much clattering and banging, Santa is so pleased with Russell’s work that he enfolds him in the Christmas Spell and all the deliveries are made in time. Santa’s reindeer with Russell’s amazing car sleigh convertible in tow seems almost to fly off the page in Scotton’s oil pastel pictures.
    A good choice for Russell’s already established following and any others who want a slightly off-beat read.
(reviewed by Jill Bennett)
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Christmas Wishes
by Tony Mitton, illustrated by Layn Marlow
(Orchard Books)
Using Clement Clark Moore’s classic poem, A Visit From St. Nicholas to provide the metre, Tony Mitton has penned a new poem; only here more than one mouse is stirring. In fact, it is through the voices (and eyes) of two little mice that we share in the excitement of Christmas preparations and a visit from Santa.
   Mitton’s version reads aloud beautifully and I can see it becoming popular with infant schools looking for a new idea for their annual Christmas performance. In the meantime buy it and share it with young listeners who will delight not only in the words but also in the visual perspectives both panoramic, and close-up, which are full of delectable details.
(reviewed by Jill Bennett)
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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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Laura's Star and the Search for Santa
by Klaus Baumgart
(Little Tiger)
Laura's little brother Tommy is anxious about going away for Christmas: how will Santa find them in the country cottage? Laura enlists the help of her very special Star friend and all ends happily in a somewhat unexpected way. Unlike the the original book about Laura's Star, this is not a picture book. It's a longer, small format, illustrated story for those just beyond the picture book stage or for reading aloud to under sevens.
(reviewed by Jill Bennett)
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Dear Father Christmas
byAlan 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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Bless You, Santa!
by Julie Sykes, illustrated by Tim Warnes
( Little Tiger Press)
This is the fourth in a very jolly series featuring Santa from this author/artist partnership. It's December 23 rd and as Santa is about to begin his breakfast he is struck down with terrible cold and if that isn't bad enough, he hasn't put the finishing touches to all the toys. But there's nothing for it, he is ordered to bed by his little mouse and very soon is fast asleep. Quick as a flash, his animal friends all get busy mopping, mending, gluing, snipping, sticking and wrapping till at last everything is ready. Next evening they wait anxiously with sleigh piled high but where is Santa? Just when the tension is almost too much - there he is with a trick up his sleeve, just in time to deliver those all important presents; and there's an extra surprise for his cat too.
(reviewed by Jill Bennett)
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Dear Santa
by Rod Campbell
(Campbell Books)
Using the same pattern as the ever popular lift-the flap Dear Zoo story, the author has produced a Christmas sequence in which “something special” is requested from Santa. Santa wraps various items but considers them ‘too small’, ‘too big’, ‘too bouncy’ and so on until finally he thinks of the perfect touchy feely present and, or course, it’s just what is wanted. Great fun for Christmas and all year.
(reviewed by Jill Bennett)
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The Big Book of Christmas
chosen by Gaby Morgan
(Macmillan)
A bumper collection of poems, carols and songs, plays, jokes, and things to make. The longest section, poetry, contains an excellent mix of material, mainly contemporary. Poets include Moira Andrew, James Berry, Charles Causley, Sue Cowling, Richard Edwards, Eleanor Farjeon, Brian Patten and Judith Nicholls and topics range from angels and the birth of Jesus to suitable gifts for zoo animals and ascending Everest. The plays are well worth a look: there is a nativity from Pie Corbett, Julia Donaldon’s version of Persephone explaining how winter came, Fred Sedgwick’s Finding a Baby is great fun and Vanessa Vian’s The Little Eagle tells of a community where differences don’t matter. A book to return to Christmas after Christmas.
(reviewed by Jill Bennett)
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The Usborne Book of Christmas Stories
Edited by Anne Finnis
(Usborne)
There's something for everyone in this varied collection of stories with a seasonal theme. My personal favourite is the "Houston Calling" where a cosmonaut loses his teddy in space and has it returned by Father Christmas. But there are plenty of others to choose from including an innkeeper in the nativity play who doesn't want to send Mary away, spiders weaving cobwebs on a Christmas tree to become the first tinsel and a girl who wants a turkey as a pet instead of for dinner. This reasonably priced hardback book would make a good present for children up to about 11.
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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) 1 84506 030 X
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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Saint Nicholas
by Mary Joslin, illustrated by Helen Cann
(Lion)
Subtitled The Story of the Real Santa Claus, this delightful picture book tells of the generous-hearted Nicholas, himself the recipient of many gifts, and how, through his rooftop activities, he becomes the benefactor of a poor family and the inspiration for the legend of the traditional Santa. The warmth of the tale is reflected in the glowing watercolour illustrations adorned within bejewelled borders.
(reviewed by Jill Bennett)
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Just For You, Blue Kangaroo!
by Emma Chichester Clark
(Andersen Press)
Blue Kangaroo watches as Lily prepares for Christmas, making cards and decorations, adorning the tree and wrapping presents: “This one is just for you,” she tells him each time. So, on Christmas Eve he lies awake wishing he could do something just for Lily and then he hears Father Christmas who helps make his wish come true.
This book, with its theme of gifts and giving, glows with the excitement and colour of Christmas preparation and celebration and will be warmly welcomed by fans of Blue Kangaroo. Families of young children yet to make his acquaintance could well start here and then seek out his previous adventures.
(reviewed by Jill Bennett)
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Christmas in Exeter Street
by Diana Hendry
(Walker Books)
This story starts quite normally with Grandma and Grandpa coming to stay with Ben and Jane at their house in Exeter Street. But as Christmas Eve progresses and a stream of extra visitors arrive at the house, the situation becomes funnier and funnier. Soon there are children in the attic, men on the windowsills, the vicar in the bath and a baby in the sink plus five very aunts from Abingdon sleeping on the shelves of the dresser. Of course, Father Christmas remembers all the 18 children in the house (although he has to take off his socks to count them) and everyone has a wonderful time. It's a good family choice as the humour in this picture book will appeal to a range of ages. Although Father Christmas makes a fleeting visit, the emphasis is on Christmas as a time of hospitality and kindness rather than on receiving presents.
Ages 3-7+
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Is that you, Father Christmas?
by Siobhan Dodds
(Walker Books)
Holly is so excited on Christmas Eve that she keeps thinking she can hear Father Christmas coming. But, of course, the sounds she hears are ordinary ones and, when he does arrive, she doesn't hear anything because she's fast asleep. A simple story with a very smiley Father Christmas.
Ages 2-6
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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. (see below)
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The Teddy Bear's Night Before Christmas
by Clement Clark Moore and Monica Stevenson
(Scholastic)
A lovely edition of Clement Clark Moore's much loved poem, illustrated with large colour photographs of teddy bears acting out the story. Great for reading aloud to young children and for adult teddy bear collectors.
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Rover Saves Christmas
by Roddy Doyle
(Scholastic)
Rudolph is ill so Santa needs help to deliver the presents. That may not be the most original storyline in the world but I can guarantee you've never read a Christmas book quite like this before. It features Rover, the highly unusual dog from The Giggler Treatment, and is packed with off the wall humour. Even the chapter headings are played for laughs. A good choice for fans of the first book (although there are no giggler's in this one) and for other 7-11 year olds who like funny books. It may even tempt reluctant readers, especially boys.
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The Bear Father Christmas Forgot
by Diana Kimpton
(Scholastic)
The bear in the title knows he is Madeleine's present so when Father Christmas forgets to deliver him, he sets out to deliver himself. As I'm the author of this story, I can't really tell you how good it is. But it has already sold over 600,000 copies worldwide so children must like it.
3-6 year olds
Out of print but still available from libraries

Christmas Mouse
by Vivian French and Chris Fisher
(Walker)
Poor Alexander is the middle child of three so everyone calls him Middling Mouse. He always feels left out until Father Christmas develops a cold and needs Alexander's help. An enjoyable story for middling children everywhere and their brothers and sisters. The colour pictures are fun and the text is suitable for reading aloud to young children or for older ones to read alone.
Ages 3-8
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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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For more Christmas titles, see
Nativity Stories     
Stories without Father Christmas    
Christmas Film Tie-ins and Videos    
Christmas poetry
Christmas Activity Books
Nativity Plays

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