Advent Calendar

Bugs at Christmas by Beatrice Alemagna

The bugs are back for Christmas.Those party loving, intolerant insects first seen in Bugs in a Blanket are attempting to come together for a Christmas party. Trouble is they all want to do Christmas the way they do at home.

That's the trouble with Christmas. You do it with your family – the right way – and it ends up in a fight. Do it with friends – throwing tradition out of the window – and it ends in a fight.

Bugs in a Blanket is a firm favourite here – although the line 'I've got my mamas eyes' does make my daughter sob uncontrollably. Beatrice Alemagna does that perfect picture book thing of tackling really heavy duty issues, like intolerance, in a safe environment. And what could be safer than a beautifully embroidered felt blanket – at Christmas?

Alemagna has said she follows the credo of Tomi Ungerer (of Christmas Eve of the Mellops fame), 'children shouldn't be patronised or sheltered, they should be challenged.' In her books she wants 'the child to be a little shaken by the story, if only by seeing these mean little creatures, they might say to themselves, “they are horrible – but I actually quite like them.”'

The bugs always come together in the end though. In Bugs at Christmas the agent of reconciliation is snow. They move forward hand in hand. The snow goes “scrunch scrunch” beneath their feet. And all of a sudden, nothing else seems to matter.

Bugs at Christmas by Beatrice Alemagna, £6.95 / €9.95, Phaidon 2013, http://www.phaidon.com

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