Love lights the way at Christmas
A Dublin Christmas by Nicola Colton, Gill Books
What's it about?
It's Christmas Eve in Dublin and Orla is decorating the tree while waiting for her gran to arrive. Gran has been stuck at the airport because of a storm. Suddenly, all the lights go out. Can Orla restore the true spirit of Christmas and rescue Dublin from darkness? With the help of some fairy friends, she just might.
What can we learn?
Elaborate gifts aren't what makes Christmas special. The people we love, and the connections we have with them, are what make this time of year so magical.
What makes this stand out? This is an uplifting and original night-before-Christmas tale, with diverse characters and gorgeous illustrations.
About those illustrations... They're amazing! I love the colour palette and how attractive our capital city looks. There are lots of cute details in the images, which my children love. They're mad about Orla's lopsided Christmas tree with pieces of lego and half-eaten cookies dangling from its branches. I love how the tree isn't perfect either! My kids also enjoy looking at the handmade cards on the mantelpiece and finding all of Orla's dinosaur toys, of which there are many!
The fairies and elves are delightful and full of personality, and the wishing office is an inspired touch. We love watching the wishes as they whoosh and whiz around it. I was very excited to see a shop called Switz Swoo & Co. Ltd. This brought back wonderful memories of seeing Santa at Switzers and its famous Christmas window when I was a child. It's since become Brown Thomas, but you can watch a video of Santa arriving at Switzers in 1982 (via a giant roller-skate for some reason) here.
Why we love it...
A Dublin Christmas celebrates the simple things that matter most and demonstrates the transformative power of kindness. The text is as beautiful as the images, with the city described as a 'sea of inky shapes' at one point and a 'sea of twinkling lights' at another.
Lots of favourite Dublin landmarks feature and it's fun for Irish children to see so many familiar places in one book. I love how the story reminds us of what's really important and proves that wishes can come true. And it's brilliant how it highlights how grans really are the best!
Why you need it...
This is a fantastic book for all children but it's even more perfect for those living in, or with a connection to, Ireland. Get this for your own family and send it to Irish relatives and friends living abroad too! A fabulous story for sharing with excited young readers as Christmas approaches, which helps us appreciate the little things that light up our lives.
About the author-illustrator:
Nicola Colton is an Irish author-illustrator who lives in Bristol with her husband and their black and white cat Ody. Her debut picture book, A Dublin Fairytale, was Hodges Figgis’ bestselling children’s book of the decade and won the Literacy Association of Ireland Award. Jasper & Scruff, her first fiction series as author and illustrator, was a Guardian book of the month.
A huge thanks to author-illustrator Nicola Colton and Gill Books for sharing this gorgeous book with us - all opinions are our own. We'll be posting an interview with Nicola soon, so stay tuned!