Blog Top Festive Reads with Helen Mortimer
My story, The Winter Wish, opens when there are just eleven days until Christmas. I think the anticipation of Christmas and the traditions that we build around this time are particularly special.
When I was small, my father used to read A Christmas Carol to me and my brother over several bedtimes in the run-up to December 25th. For me Dickens’ novel remains an essential ingredient of the festive season. The story wraps up such a powerful idea about the potential we all have to change and I have enjoyed many different adaptations of the original, although I think my favourite is The Muppets version with its sparkling lyrics and wonderfully surreal feel!
Another family favourite from my childhood was The Twelve Days of Christmas illustrated by Brian Wildsmith. His striking use of colour was so vivid and I remember how the book shone with a jewel-like brightness during dark December days. Fast forward about thirty years and I started working for Oxford University Press, Brian’s publisher. Brian was already in his late seventies at that time and no longer working on new projects. However I was lucky enough to be Brian’s editor and was in touch with him regularly about new editions of his marvellous backlist, including the very title that brought me such Christmas joy as a child!
I still have a well-thumbed copy of Raymond Briggs’ Father Christmas that I received as a Christmas present one year. I was fascinated by the humdrum details of Father Christmas’s routine. I loved the fact that we were permitted to see his false teeth in a jar and to even see him sitting on the loo!
I would like to think that these childhood favourites, and many more, would be on the shelves of Words of Wonder – the bookshop that features in The Winter Wish. I wonder what the books are that you always want to have close to you as Christmas approaches? Whatever they are, I hope they bring you the warmth and happiness of the season.
Published: Fri 9th Dec 2022