Twinkling fairy lights, scrumptious food shared with family and friends, long warm evenings and a pile of good books. These are a few of my favourite Christmassy things.
Every year as we take out the Christmas box to unpack the tree, lights and raggedy assortments of ornaments and other random trimmings collected over the years, I can’t wait to get to the bottom of that big box.
There they have waited patiently since being packed away last January. Covers calling out to be cracked open, pages poured over by curious eyes who remember the gist of the stories but delight in the details all over again every December. Old is new again. Hello my precious Christmas books.
Every year I add one or two to the collection. And this year there are some great new books by Aussie authors to choose from, making my purchase decisions delightfully difficult.
We have storytime every night in our house and it’s a part of the day I always look forward to. In December, the stories always seem that little bit more magical.
For a story-lover like me, it’s hard to keep any list of books to 10, so I chose a sub-theme this year to cull my original, very long list – Aussie authors: old and new.
Listed below are the Top 10 Australian made books I’m looking forward to reading “Again!” and “Again!” to my kids this Christmas, mixing some of my original well-worn old favourites (thanks for keeping those Mum!) in with some newer releases.
My hope is that this list will help you discover (or rediscover) a Christmas story to share this year, whether you are looking to add to your own family’s collection or to gift to another. Books are always the perfect gift, after all.
- Wombat Divine
Written by Mem Fox, Illustrated by Kerry Argent
Mem Fox never disappoints. Wombat Divine is a classic that we read year-round, not just at Christmas. I love Wombat Divine for it’s gentle reminder of the reason for the season, it’s colourful collection of Aussie animal characters and lingering lesson that, although we may be told we are “too tall”, “too small” or “too clumsy” at times, there is the “perfect part” for us all.
Wombat loves the Nativity Play. He loves it so much that he tries out for every part. Sadly, he doesn’t seem to be quite right for any of them. But wise Emu knows the perfect role for a sleepy wombat, one that might just make him the star of the show!
- All I Want For Christmas Is Rain
Written by Cori Brooke, Illustrated by Megan Forward
A stunning picture book that pays tribute to the farmers of Australia and a gift that would mean more than presents on Christmas Day. Written in simple, straight-to-the-heart, rhyming verse and beautifully illustrated in watercolour, this is a new addition to our book shelf this year that is already well loved.
An Australian Christmas is threatened when drought takes hold. A little girl has only one wish – for rain. Will her wish come true?
- Little Dog and The Christmas Wish
Written by Corinne Fenton, Illustrated by Robin Cowcher
My kids love a story with a dog as the central character. And I love the simplicity of the message presented here…that Christmas traditions and trimmings are wonderful to discover and delight in, but nothing beats being with the people you love at Christmastime. I also love the that Little Dog’s adventure begins with a summer storm, something that is a part of weathering the season where we live in Queensland.
Little Dog and Jonathan are best friends. They do everything together. But on Christmas Eve, Little Dog finds himself lost and alone in a busy city. How will he find his way home? Can his Christmas wish come true?
- Pig the Elf
Written and illustrated by Aaron Blabey
Another book with a dog centre stage. This time the cheeky, greedy, lovable rogue from the Pig the Pug series. Written in Blabey’s famously rhythmic and humorous verse, Pig gets himself into trouble with Santa by asking for too many things, staying up too late and biting the big red man’s bottom. Guess which part is my kid’s favourite?
“Santa was coming! ‘Twas bigger than big, but no-one was feeling more festive than…PIG!”
- Eucalyptus Christmas
Written and Illustrated by Stephen Axelsen
This was THE Christmas Book to have in 1988. My copy was given to me as a gift when I was 6 years old by dear family friends, as the faded inscription on the inside cover reminds me. Inside the pages are a joyful collection of Aussie themed Christmas poems like Billabong Bon-Bons, Waiting Up and A Bush Photographer. Each poem is accompanied by delightful illustrations that all tell their own stories. This book never fails to give me all the warm Christmas fuzzies.
- Where’s Santa
Written and Illustrated by Louis Shea
This is a great one for kids who enjoy interactivity in a book. My five year old was gifted this book from his gorgeous Kindy teachers this year, which is a recommendation in itself. Louis Shea’s bold and colourful illustrations have over 700 things for big and little kids alike to try and spot as Santa travels around all the states of Australia. Kids will love spotting red nosed native animals, santa hat mushrooms and Barry’s undies on every page. A great stocking stuffer or gift idea. Snuggle up and let the spotting begin!
Santa’s flown Down Under to visit his cousin Barry. But Rudolph has created chaos on the farm – now red-nosed amimals are flying everywhere! From kung-fu cassowaries up north, to footy-playing possums down south, can Santa and Barry put everything right?
- The Twelve Dogs of Christmas
Written and illustrated by Kevin Whitlark
Dogs again! As long as you’re ok with having the familiar strains of the song Twelve Days of Christmas stuck in your head during and after you read this book, it’s a lot of fun. Yes. Your kids will insist you sing it to them. My kids also enjoy the way I tend to get tongue-twisted towards the end.
On the first day of Christmas my true dog sent to me…A fat cat in a fur tree. It’s Christmas time and all the dogs are busy getting up to hilarious mischief and decorating the Christmas tree. With fresh, funny drawings, this interpretation of the classic rhyme will have kids giggling through twelve dogs digging, eight canines skating, and nine labs licking, right back down to a fat cat in a fur tree.
- A Snugglepot & Cuddlepie Christmas
Written by Mark MacLeod, Illustrated by May Gibbs
The curvy, cutesy illustrations of May Gibb’s best-loved characters, the gumnut babies, captured my imagination as a child and still delight me as an adult. I love sharing the Aussie bush characters that were so much a part of my childhood with my own children…although, being 3 and 5, at the moment they can’t get past the fact that the characters clothes show their “butt butts” and insist on calling them the “butt butt babies”. I tell myself the toilet humour stage will pass.
Christmas is coming, and Snugglepot and Cuddlepie are getting everything ready. But the list of things to do is long and Cuddlepie might be too busy to remember Snugglepot’s present!
- Christmas Wombat
Written by Jackie French, illustrated by Bruce Whatley
A story about a stowaway wombat on Santa’s sleigh who is more interested in carrots than presents? What’s not to love? This story takes children, and a wombat, around the world on a great adventure, before depositing them back in Australia, ready for a snooze.
- Malibu and the Naughty Elf
Written by Michelle Worthington, Illustrated by Dave Atze
A new release just in time for Christmas 2017. So new, in fact, that if you’re a Brisbane local you still have time to attend the official launch of this book, which will be hosted by Author Michelle Worthington at The Mad Hatters Bookshop in Manly this coming Saturday, December 9th – event details here. Take the kids along to hear the author read this fun-filled tale featuring surfing Santas, skateboarding reindeer and elves playing in the sand, and take home a personalised signed copy as a gift. Malibu and the Naughty Elf is still on my to-read list, as I’m planning to be at the launch next weekend to purchase my copy, but you can read a glowing review here.
So here’s to extra special storytimes this festive season and a very Merry Christmas to us all!