For the first time in a very long time, two Christmas books have made this year’s CBCA shortlist.
Little Dog and the Christmas Wish by Corinne Fenton and Robin Cowcher is shortlisted for the Crichton Award for New Illustrators.
Tea and Sugar Christmas by Jane Jolly and Robert Ingpen is shortlisted for the Eve Pownall Award for Information Books.
Little Dog was my favourite Christmas story from last year’s crop of picture books. It was nostalgic, joyful and tender:
Wherever Jonathan went, Little Dog was beside him.
Jonathan and Little Dog go fishing and exploring together, they play ball and cuddle…until one stormy day…when Little Dog gets frightened and wanders into the big city and gets lost in the Christmas crowds.
Cowcher’s beautiful pictures capture the natural movement and expressions of both dog and boy to a tee.
Set in the 1950’s, her wistful water colours & line drawings evoke the period and celebrate the season.
Cowcher has worked at The Age as a designer and illustrator. In a 2010 interview with the SMH, Cowcher remarked that:
she had never resolved the tension between painting and drawing.
I’m not a trained artist, but her illustrations in Little Dog feel and look pretty resolved to me! And I love the mix of drawing and painting. The splashes of colour jump out of the page allowing Cowcher to highlight the iconic and the seasonal to great effect.
Even the end papers – full of sketches of little dog in various poses and profiles – satisfy the cute and adorable factor.
Little Dog and the Christmas Wish is highly recommended for 3+ audiences and all lovers of cute dog stories!
Tea and Sugar Christmas is a fictionalised account of the goods train used to service small, isolated outback towns with basic supplies and the occasional luxury item from 1917 until 1996.
Jolly creates a thoughtful story of waiting and hoping as young Kathleen (one of the few Indigenous protagonists in Australian children’s literature) prepares for an outback Christmas. Kathleen’s excitement and anticipation builds with each page because at Christmas time, the tea and sugar train also carries a very special visitor.
This story was always going to be a special one, but choosing Robert Ingpen to illustrate it was an inspired idea indeed!
Ingpen has illustrated many beautiful classic editions over the years, winning the biennial, international Hans Christian Andersen Medal in 1986 for his “lasting contribution” as a children’s illustrator.
He uses cutaways, double page spreads and folds out that can be poured over for hours. The final section includes photographs, maps and archival information about the history of the tea and sugar train.
Suitable for all ages, but also a wonderful resource for primary schools to highlight diversity, change and continuity and celebrations.
- A Christmas Carol | Charles Dickens
- A Christmas Tree and a Wedding | Fyodor Dostoevsky
- The Heavenly Christmas Tree | Fyodor Dostoevsky
- Little Dog and the Christmas Wish | Corinne Fenton and Robin Cowcher
- Christmas Eve at Warwingie | Mary Gaunt
- A Digger’s Christmas | Mary Gaunt
- Tea and Sugar Christmas | Jane Jolly and Robert Ingpen
- The Twelve Days of Christmas Island | Teresa Lagrange
- Harriet Clare #6 Christmas Fair | Louise Park
- The Tailor of Gloucester | Beatrix Potter
- A Maigret Christmas | Georges Simenon
- Christmas at High Rising | Angela Thirkell
- My favourite Christmas-themed illustrated picture books for children