Here is a book by the hugely popular Swedish author and illustrator Elsa Beskow (1874-1953). Her books delighted many generations of readers. They have been translated into many languages and continue to be reprinted to this day. Her legacy is not just her gorgeous books but the prestigious Elsa Beskow Award created in 1958 to recognise the year’s best Swedish picture book illustrator.
First published in 1947, the story of “Peter and Lotta’s Christmas” informs that “in those days in Sweden, Father Christmas hadn’t begun to give presents, a big Christmas goat used to come instead. Christmas goat would thump on the floor with his stick and ask “Are there any good children here?”
The story’s central characters are the twins who stay with their 3 Aunties – Lavender, Green and Brown – and Uncle Blue. The family appears in a number of other Elsa Beskow’s books. The story starts the day before Christmas Eve when the Aunties are busy cleaning and cooking gingerbread biscuits and the Uncle takes the twins to the forest to find a Christmas tree to bring home and decorate. During dinner the Christmas goat arrives and the children meet him for the first time. The story goes on telling about Peter and Lotta’s pass times after Christmas throughout spring and summer, about their simple childhood joys, secrets, adventures and encounters. Prior to their next Christmas the children make presents for their Uncle and Aunties. At Christmas dinner that year everyone gasps in surprise when not just one but two Christmas goats arrive at the house at the same time!.. The complication resolves itself but we won’t spoil it for you telling how it does.
“Peter and Lotta’s Christmas” is told through the eyes of the twins and was a firm favourite with my son around 5-6 years of age. I love it myself still (aged 40+), which proves that it doesn’t loose it charms.
For more reviews of fabulous Christmas books click here.