Stories that remind us to think about EVERYONE at Christmas – not just those that love it
Published on: 03 December 2018 Author: Nicola Davies
Our Writer in Residence, children's author Nicola Davies, wants us to think about those who find Christmas quite tricky. That's why she's written a festive picture book about a boy who is feeling rather anxious about it all.
Just about now, the whole world seems to go Christmas mad. It’s everywhere you look. But not everyone likes Christmas. If you have lost a loved one, or if you live alone, Christmas can be about the most heartbreaking time of year.
Some people have problems with their physical or mental wellbeing that can make Christmas really stressful. Some children with Aspergers spectrum disorders really need routine to be able to feel safe and happy, so all the bonkers disruption that Christmas causes can be horrible for them.
I wanted to write a story that reminded us all to think about everyone at Christmas; not just those of us who love it, but people whose hearts sink at the sight of the first decorations in the shop windows.
Christmas and winter landscapes
I wrote The Dog that Saved Christmas (illustrated by Mike Byrne) about Jake, who hates Christmas so much he decided he’s going to stop it happening. As you can imagine, that doesn't go well, but fortunately Jake makes a new four-legged friend who helps him and his family find a way for them all to enjoy the big day.
If you, like Jake, are not keen on all the Christmas fuss and you’d rather be out in the snow on a toboggan, you might also like Brave and the Fox (illustrated by Sebastian Braun), as it’s set in the Arctic where there’s a LOT of snow!
I love the Arctic; the icebergs and the frozen sea, the animals and the magical lights in the sky we call the aurora or northern lights. I’m fascinated by the Inuit people, who learned to survive there making all they needed from stone, bone, animal skins, ice and snow. Whenever they travelled from home, Inuit hunters would carry a little pouch of essential survival equipment tucked inside their clothes so they’d have it close, no matter what.
Life for the Inuit people is changing fast. Climate change is melting the winter ice earlier every year, making journeys on the frozen sea dangerous – as the little girl in my story finds out when cracked ice takes her floating away from her Granny. Thanks to her survival pouch, she finds her way home alone – well, almost alone!
When things don't go as planned
The characters in both books, Jake and Akiak, have to cope when things don’t go as planned. It may seem mean to put my characters through such difficulties, but without problems to solve, stories wouldn't be very interesting.
So, while you're enjoying Christmas, remember people who might not be having such a great time. And if something happens to spoil your Christmas, remember what a great story it could make.
Writer in Residence
Our current Illustrator in Residence is Onjali Q Raúf, who is writing blogs, running competitions and giving us her unique perspective on the world of children's books.