Willow at Christmas by Camilla Ashforth

Willow at ChristmasI’m going to go out on a limb and say that for most of us, Christmas is not the time for Edgy and Innovative. Not the time for Thrilling (of the Zip! Pow! variety) or Seat-of-Your-Pants Terrifying. Christmas (or any winter holiday, of course) is about comfort and cosiness and togetherness and safety. (I cannot deny the appeal of presents and food, but mostly: comfort).

Most of us return to our childhood favorites at this time of year–A Christmas Carol, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, A Child’s Christmas in Wales, Letters from Father Christmas, etc–and I am no different. Recently, though, I discovered a book that is destined to become someone else’s childhood favorite, the comfiest, cosiest, sweetest (and yet not saccharine!) picture book: Willow at Christmas by Camilla Ashforth.

The book tells the story of Willow the teddy bear, who is the farmer on Paradise Farm, where he takes care of Little Pink Pig, and various other animals. Over the course of the book, Willow hopes for snow for Christmas, feeds and takes care of the animals, wraps presents, decorates the house and cuts down a Christmas tree. The book culminates with Willow’s friends arriving for caroling and a (very British) Christmas Eve feast.

Willow at Christmas: interior illustrationWhat makes the book truly endearing are the illustrations. The soft-focus watercolors are slightly reminiscent of late-period Beatrix Potter, and the minutia of Willow’s farm life bring to mind Jill Barklem’s Brambly Hedge books.  Adorable without being cutesy, warm and quietly content, the book feels like a walk in the snow, ending with the lights of home.

Posted by: Sarah

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