‘Lucy & Tom’s Christmas’ by Shirley Hughes (published by Gollancz)
There’s probably very little I need to say about this book. It’s by Shirley Hughes, it’s a Christmas story featuring two of her best loved characters and it’s pretty much perfect. As Pippa Goodhart has written here in her post on Picture Book Den, the essential components of a festive picture book are all there.
Many have said this before me but that doesn’t make it any the less true – what’s so wonderful about Shirley Hughes’ work is her celebration of the small, ordinary things in life. I consciously try and remain aware of these small things when it comes to C and H’s own childhoods, and Christmas in particular, as I still remember them so fondly from own – the smell of tinsel; the feeling in your tummy when you wake up on Christmas Day and rush to see if Father Christmas has been; Mum putting little bowls of nibbles out for Christmas guests and my sister and I sneaking handfuls of them when no-one was looking; our dog eating presents from under the tree… The list goes on 🙂
Everyone will have their own little rituals, traditions and memories and Shirley Hughes never seems to suggest that we should all be doing the same thing, more that she reminds us of that warm, comfortable feeling we get from simply knowing our own traditions exist.
The beautiful illustrations are instantly recognisable and the text manages to see the world perfectly through the eyes of a child. Like Pippa Goodhart, one of my very favourite bits is when Tom gets cross and has to go for a little walk with Grandpa. So utterly ‘real’ and a great way to realise that it’s OK not to feel giddy with joy at all times – the pressure of having a magical Christmas can weigh on us all!
This book is sadly out of print now, but you can occasionally find reasonable copies (like my own) on eBay or if you’re really lucky, in a charity shop (though I’ve never been able to find one there!). Good luck – it is most definitely worth it!