A couple of weeks ago the lovely Catherine from Story Snug asked us to join in her wonderful Online Book Advent Calendar where every...

Favourite Festive Read

Friday, December 15, 2017 BookBairn 4 Comments

A couple of weeks ago the lovely Catherine from Story Snug asked us to join in her wonderful Online Book Advent Calendar where every day until Christmas lots of bookish bloggers, authors and illustrators share there favourite festive reads. And of course I was delighted to join in... but... how was I going to choose one sing favourite festive read. So I decided to let BookBairn choose. And she chose well.

Oliver Elephant by Lou Peacock and Helen Stephens was her choice and I can see why she picked it: it's a heartwarming story which BookBairn can no doubt relate to with a favourite toy who goes everywhere; it's incredibly beautifully illustrated with Christmas trees that fascinate little BookBairn and it comes with a brilliant (and free) audiobook so she can read it herself.

In the story, little Noah is going Christmas shopping with his mummy, sister Evie-May and, of course, his favourite soft toy elephant, Oliver. They go to the big store and find presents for everyone on their list and Noah and Oliver get up to little bits of mischief as they shop. When the shopping is finally all done they pop to the cafĂ© for a slice of cake and, just as they get ready to leave, Noah discovers that Oliver is missing! I don’t want to spoil the ending – but there’s a little bit of Christmas magic to make it a happy one! 

It is written in rhyme so makes a brilliant story to read aloud. In fact, the first time we read it BookBairn wasn't that fussed so I sat on the floor and started to read and she was simply drawn in and onto my lap. As we read the final words she said "read it again mummy!" 

We love Helen Stephens’s illustrations – they are absolutely adorable. There are several beautiful spreads of Noah and his family inside the department store with a huge Christmas tree in the centre towering over all the shoppers. It is perfect! The perfect Christmas scene. Bringing to life the magic of this time of year. 

There are so many things that we can relate to in this book: trying to take two kids shopping at Christmas time seems a daunting prospect and I can imagine my BookBairn would get up to mischief just like Noah. She also has a very favourite cuddly toy – Louis the lion (tucked up beside BookBairn in these photos) – who goes everywhere with us! Fortunately, we’ve never had that moment of panic when it disappears (we also have two, just in case!). And the shop looks remarkably like a big department store in Edinburgh (so I message Helen Stephens and as local-ish artist she said she couldn't help letting a little bit of that store seep into the illustration).

And as I mentioned it has a free audiobook. Many of the books by the publisher Nosy Crow are part of their Stories Aloud smartphone audio book series and all you have to do is scan the QR code on the inside flap to hear the story read aloud. BookBairn really does love this. She is becoming more independent in her 'reading' and she wants to read by herself. This lets her do that. And there's even a wee bell sound to tell her when to turn the pages. She quite happily listens and reads away for ages all by herself.

Personally, I would choose this one simply because I love the normality of it, and whilst there is magic in how Oliver finds his way back to Noah – it’s real magic – no fairies, elves or pixie dust. This is a timely reminder that real life is just as magic as the mythical. 

Do you have a favourite festive read?

Happy festive reading,
Mummy, BookBairn and Louis xx

*Disclaimer: These books were sent to us by the publisher and we were truly delighted to receive them. Words and opinions are our own.


  1. I suspect BookBairn 'Live' may be coming soon!

  2. What a great idea to scan the QR code and have the story read out loud. Very clever. I can see why BookBairn pocked this book.

    1. Such a great idea! And makes it so easy for kids to access - I must save the page as an icon on my phone to make it even easier!