Walking in Winter Wonderlands: Holly Webb Picks Her Favourite Wintertime Children's Stories
There’s something lovely about winter books. To be honest, I think a big part of it is that reading is usually done indoors, in the warm. Preferably with pyjamas on, under a blanket, and with a large mug of something chocolatey. It’s even better if it’s actually snowing outside, but grim winter cold of any kind will do!
One of my earliest books, the first in the Animal Stories series, was Lost in the Snow, a story of a kitten’s Christmas search for the perfect home. It was inspired by my childhood cat, who was a stray we adopted. My mum and I made up stories about her adventures on the way to find us, and I loved them – but our stories were always harrowing! She trekked through the cold, paws frozen, whiskers iced up...
I’ve adored stories about cold winter s ever since, and I love writing about snow. My absolute favourite part of writing The Storm Leopards was finding out that snow leopards use their thick tails as scarves to keep their noses warm. Who couldn’t love a cat with a built-in fluffy scarf?
So here are some of my favourite wintry books, all full of snow!
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by CS Lewis.
I think I must have been about seven when my mum started reading all the Narnia books to me. I loved the winter land of Narnia, and I have to admit I was very slightly disappointed when the White Witch’s winter magic was lifted…
A Child’s Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas, illustrated by Edward Ardizzone.
This was originally part of a radio broadcast, and there are different editions, but the Ardizzone illustrations add so much to the book. This isn’t a story so much as a set of strange and brilliant descriptions, but it’s so funny, and it has the best descriptions of snow everr.
Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder.
This is one of my favourite ever books – especially the description of making maple candy by dropping maple syrup on snow. (I’ve tried, I think their maple syrup was thicker…) There is also another fantastic Laura Ingalls Wilder book, set when Laura is older, called The Long Winter, but the wholehearted enjoyment of the snow and the woods in winter make this one more special for me. I have very strong memories of reading it as a child, and the stories of nineteenth-century America inspired my book The Winter Wolf.
Father Christmas by Raymond Briggs.
Of course, The Snowman is much better known (and wonderful!), but Father Christmas has huge memories for me – it felt so shockingly rude! So funny to have a cross, fed-up Father Christmas who doesn’t much like children, or presents, and definitely not the horrible cold weather either.
Letters from Father Christmas by J.R.R. Tolkien.
Letters already have a wonderful, storytelling feel to them, partly since so few of us send letters except at Christmas now. These are fabulous illustrated letters sent by J.R.R. Tolkien to his children, writing as Father Christmas. They feature a very accident-prone Polar Bear, which makes me love them even more.