When I was eight or so, we celebrated our Christmas Day at an aunt’s house. I did not like this aunt or her husband very much, so was apprehensive. I would be the only child amongst a throng of older family, little interested in or accommodating to children. To my astonishment, and those gathered, my grandmother presented me with an heirloom brooch that Christmas, one that had been in my late grandfather’s family since they had settled in New Zealand. It was a small 22 carat gold bar, with a greenstone (jade) tiki hanging from it. My mother warned, ‘Be careful. This is a very special moment.’ I was frozen with fear. By the end of that Christmas day, I had lost that precious gift. It was never found. I was a disgrace.
The following Christmas, at a favourite uncle and aunt’s home, my grandmother gave me a book, ‘The Adventures of Ben Gunn‘ by R. F. Delderfield. ‘I know you won’t lose this,’ she told me, ‘nor do I expect you’ll read it. ‘ I was dismayed, in truth, a prequel to ‘Treasure Island’ didn’t thrill me. However, as I had a reading habit and there were no other children, again, I began to read the book that afternoon. Unlike the brooch, the book lasted; it stayed with me.
I have written before about ‘books as gifts’ how I have always taken great pleasure in giving and being given books, long before I became a bookseller. There is nothing so personal, considered and lingering as a book. I feel an attachment to the people who’ve given me books.
Last week, Mr Bookwagon and I exhibited at the Herts and Essex Baby and Toddler Fair. We felt increasingly cautious about the event as it drew closer. As it happened, for a variety of reasons, the exhibition drew very few visitors. Despite this, it was an enjoyable day for Bookwagon. We set up our new table complete with beautiful bunting, and sold a range of baby and toddler titles proudly. However twice during the day, I was knocked back to hear passers-by declare, ‘Well, she’s/ he’s only a baby, she or he doesn’t need books yet.’ I assumed the message that ‘babies need books’ was Marmite strong!
Whatever your celebration, there is something about longer hours of darkness, icy mornings, sparkly starlight, festive decorations and lights, that inspires a greater need to snuggle with the ‘right sort’ of book. We have been working hard to gather specific recommendations for gifts for your younger readers- alongside a few for families and older readers too. You will find a selection in our ‘gifts’ category. If you click on any title you will be led to a fulsome Bookwagon written descriptor to help you choose.
Here are a few of our recommendations:-
Grandad’s Secret Giant is a perfect book to share across the generations, with magic and meaning in abundance;
Considerations of rain and snow lead us to some lovely story picture books for children. The first is particularly recommended to those facing change, a new arrival, in their lives:- Home in the Rain, The Snowbear, Little One and Stardust.
The season, the light, the lack of light, the wonder and magic and mystery, are all alluded to, or feature strongly in these sophisticated picture books, that will linger forever as beautiful treats for readers:- Under the Same Sky and Once Upon a Northern Night and The Story Orchestra;
Titles specific to Christmas include Polly and the Puffin The Happy Christmas and the ‘destined to become a classic title that is already in my gift box, don’t look goddaughters’- One Christmas Wish. Acclaimed illustrator, Anna Wright, has reimagined The Twelve Days of Christmas.;
Readers longing for words of meaning and might, would love Wild Animals of the Frozen North, or the superb The Picture Atlas: An Incredible Journey, or Patricia Toht and Jarvis’s gorgeous rhyming book, Pick a Pine Tree;
Snowy wonder abounds in the splendid new title for readers aged from 9 years in Ophelia and the Marvellous Boy and the mesmerising First Light. We recommend for older readers Dreaming the Bear, and again, from a snowy landscape, Orbiting Jupiter;
All things natural for every season are imagined, celebrated and declared in the magnificent The Lost Words, one of Bookwagon’s favourite and most essential books of 2017.
We hope you find something that ‘fits your list’ in our recommendations. However you may choose, as a number of our customers, to email or telephone to ask for recommendations specific to your needs. A number are so well organised to have done this already! Meanwhile, I’ve hopeful spring bulbs past their planting, chutney not made still, and a Christmas cake that may never be baked!
Have a happy week.