Paper-cut perfection

This is a slightly unusual post, in that it’s about two books that I haven’t shared with the boys much yet but have pored over time and time again myself.

I’ve been a huuuuuuuge fan of Rob Ryan and of paper-cutting ever since I came across his book ‘A Sky Full Of Kindness’  (which I read not long after H was born and therefore I’m able to convince myself it was hormones that were responsible for the copious amount of tears I cried…).

The books I’ve read most recently, however, are festive offerings from other talented authors for which Ryan has provided the pictures.  He often seems to use deep blue in his work, but when matched with the wintery subject matter (and with a smattering of gold) it works particularly well for these two books.

The first is Carol Ann Duffy’s updating of ‘The Night Before Christmas’, entitled ‘Another Night Before Christmas‘, published by Picador.



The book is a modern and ever-so-slightly grittier version of the classic Clement C. Moore poem and thus contains scenes that might be more familiar to young readers today (though that’s no reason for them not to enjoy the original just as much) such as droning motorways, televisions and cashpoints.  However, the message that the book conveys is still one of excitement, hope and the magic of Christmas and I think it will quickly become a Story Seekers favourite at this time of year.

Just to share some more Rob Ryan joy, here are a few more spreads (and the first one has an owl – hurrah!):








The second book is a non-fiction one – ‘The Truth About Christmas’, by Philip Ardagh (who is also a great Tweeter – you can follow him here), published by Macmillan Children’s Books.



This book is a cornucopia of interesting and unusual Christmas facts.  Although it’s not aimed at children as young as C or H, I’ve found it VERY useful when trying to field C’s endless stream of ‘Why?’ questions, which have become more and more detailed recently and are started to be heavily influenced by the time of year.  Should you (or indeed your children – this book can be enjoyed by people of all ages) wish to know the origins of carol singing or why people send Christmas cards, this book should be your first port of call.

C’s questions have centred mainly around all things Father Christmas, with a few deviations into Christmas tree and advent calendar territory and this book has answered all his queries thus far.  I really like using non-fiction books with him and seeing him start to take in the different conventions (contents page, index, not reading the whole book in one go) that he doesn’t experience with the picture books that are our main reading fodder.

There are very few illustrations in this book and they’re by Marian Hill, as opposed to Rob Ryan (though they’re still lovely!), hence I haven’t photographed any further spreads.

If you’re keen to find out more about Rob Ryan’s techniques, you can check out this Guardian article from a couple of years ago.



  1. I love Rob Ryan’s work, but I am sad that they have not kept Marc Boutavant’s artwork for Another Night before Christmas :0(

    1. I hadn’t heard of that version until I read about it on your blog, but I am now very keen to seek out a copy!

  2. insiderhedge · · Reply

    Reblogged this on Parrot Reviews.

  3. Rob Ryan’s illustrations are magical! The Truth about Christmas sounds like a great book to have. I just had a look at some of his other books – those paper-cut pictures are amazing.
    I see you’ve got the snow falling on your blog too. Cute!

    1. Thanks so much for your comment. You’ll love Rob Ryan’s books, whichever ones you end up reading, though the Christmas ones are obviously well suited for the festive season! I’d love to hear your thoughts on his books once you’ve had a look yourself. (And the snow IS cute, isn’t it? It makes me happy every time I see it!)

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