Christmas Capers and Festive Fun

Now that December is finally here, the long, lovely wait can begin. To keep you and your young book-lovers amused, excited and amazed over the next few weeks, we at Inis towers have put together this selection of excellent titles that celebrate in various ways the joys and wonders of the season.

Christmas is all about traditions and Debbie Powell’s Walk This World at Christmas Time has undertaken the massive job of showing readers how different people all over the world celebrate it, from typical culinary treats, to special songs to sing, clothes to wear and presents to give. Powell’s unnamed narrator wanders the planet from West to East, stopping off long enough to exchange gifts with skaters on the Rockefeller Ice Rink in New York, to light a campfire in the hills of South Africa, meet Italy’s Befana, break the oplatek wafer in Poland or decorate a banana tree in Goa. The illustrations (served by numerous flaps to lift) are busy, warm and fascinating. A beaufiful production celebrating diversity in words and images, and one where you might find new traditions to adopt! 4+

Thinking of others is also at the core of Delia Huddy’s and Emily Sutton’s The Christmas Eve Tree. Here we follow a little, stunted fir tree as he is planted, uprooted and taken to be sold in the city. Of no interest to most shoppers, the tree ends up given away to a homeless boy who decides to go without dinner to buy candles to decorate it. The magic of Christmas can now take over, with heart-warming simplicity, but without a hint of sentimentality. This book is sure to bring up lots of questions about what makes people’s lives different and what can unite them. Plenty of food for thought for readers aged 6+

Emma Carroll’s glimpse at an upstairs-downstairs society, The Snow Sister, has stolen the heart of our one of our reviewers, who says: ‘Set in the Victorian age, this story is accompanied by striking, almost Dickensian illustrations from Julian de Narvaez. Spooky at times and often emotional, this is a captivating story with a touching ending. Perfect for fans   of Tom’s Midnight Garden, or anyone looking for a Christmas story to make them feel warm and fuzzy inside!’

Follow this link to read the full review. 5-8, 8-10.

And now something for the artists! Paul Cox’s Christmas is a colouring with a difference or two.  As your get your pencils out and unfold the 160-cm long Christmas scene, you will learn (from the back) a few artistic techniques (what are warm colours, how to add texture…) and interesting facts about the history of the festival and some of its set-pieces. Did you know in the 16th-century it took three months to herd turkeys from Norfolk to London and the birds had to wear little boots to protect their feet? Me neither. 6

Adults will also be very grateful for Lydia Crook’s Christmas Paper Play and its 112 pages of simple but utterly brilliant paper-based activities: make your own advent calendar, challenge yourself to a game of tangram, create paper chains, paper stockings, Christmas hearts, 3-D fir trees, try your hand at the techniques of ripping paper and origami, and enjoy fiendish join-the-dots and coded colouring.  Hours and days of fun! 7+

Finally, for slightly older readers(say 9+), Matt Haig shares his hilarious take on the Christmas story in A Boy Called Christmas. The boy in question is called Nikolas and is the son of a modest Finnish woodcutter who embarks on a mad and magical journey. Our reviewer says: ‘Full of slapstick comedy, reindeer poo and exploding troll heads, this is a wacky story with a warm gooey heart – perfect for David Walliams fans. Particular praise is reserved for Chris Mould’s gothic style illustrations, which very nearly steal the show. A perfect gift for any non-believers  or those beginning to doubt the magic of Christmas.’ (full review here)


One recent outstanding Irish-language book about Christmas is Oíche Chiúin – Scéal Amhrán Mór na Nollag from  Futa Fata (2014). Written by Werner Thuswaldner, illustrated by Robert Ingpen, and translated into Irish by Andreas Vogel, this book uses beautiful illustrations to tell the story behind one of the world’s best-known Christmas carols, Silent Night. ‘This is the perfect book to rekindle the true spirit of Christmas throughout this special time of year; the spirit of hope, of peace, and of community.’ (Full review here)










Werner Thuswaldner Illustrated by Robert Ingpen

Oíche Chiúin – Scéal Amhrán Mór na Nollag

Futa Fata, 2014 Hardback, 32pp, €14.95 ISBN 9781906907976


Lydia Crook Christmas Paper Play Ivy Kids Press, August 2015

Paperback, 112pp, £9.99 ISBN 9781782402473



Debbie Powell Walk This World at Christmas Time Big Picture Press, November 2015 Hardback, 24pp, £14.99 ISBN 9781783702763

Delia Huddy Illustrated by Emily Sutton The Christmas Eve Tree Walker Books, Sept 2015 Hardback, 40pp, £12.99 ISBN 9781406356496

Paul Cox Paul Cox’s Christmas Pictura, November 2015 Paperback, 8pp, £ 5.99 ISBN 9781783703760

Emma Carroll Illustrated Julian de Narvaez The Snow Sister Faber & Faber, October 2015 Paperback, 100pp, £5.99  ISBN 9780571317639

Matt Haig Illustrated by Chris Mould A Boy Called Christmas Canongate, November 2015 Hardback, 268pp, £12.99 ISBN 9781782117896