'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Wednesday 22 December 2010

Review: Father Christmas

Oh sigh. Modern books are super glorious but thank goodness for vintage. There is just something timeless and heart-palpitating about books of the past – and their hold over modern day children is often totally underrated.

This glorious 1973 book was reissued in 2004 and is a must-own for serious book lovers (ie: children). Using almost wordless comic book forms the author/illustrator is renowned for, Father Christmas typifies Briggs’ use of an almost haunting, fly-on-the-wall mood that pervades all his books.

The story follows Santa on his Christmas Eve journey. He wakes (after dreaming of holidaying on the beach; don’t we all), he realises Christmas is here (again! groan). He dresses. He puts the kettle on and feeds the reindeer. He washes his face. He makes eggs and bacon. He stacks the sleigh. He says goodbye to the dog and cat.

You know, the regular stuff.

Then he’s off. Though rain, snow, sleet, fog (and yes, he makes his displeasure known at the terrible weather conditions), he delivers presents to the children of the world, grumbling over a lack of chimneys, whining about stairs, helping himself to a warming brandy tonic, catching cold.

And when he’s done, good old Santa returns home. He has a hot bath, a good drop of ale. He opens his presents from long lost family members, and grumbles over an ugly old tie. Then he washes up, watches a bit of tele, fills his hot water bottle and beds down for the night.

Yes, Santa is a regular guy. Of course he is. And the comfort and joy of this lovely book reminds us of the magic in the everyday and the everyday in magic. Grumbling old gift-deliverer and all.

Beautiful, emotive, magical and real.

Title: Father Christmas
Author/Illustrator: Raymond Briggs
Publisher: Puffin, A$14.95
Publication Date: 1973
Format: Soft cover
ISBN: 9780140501254
For ages: 4+
Type: Picture Book

This book is available online