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Beautiful & Unusual Christmas Books

A guide to beautiful Christmas themed books for children, from cut-outs to carousels.

Posted: 5 November 2016
by Natalie Johnson

From all-time Christmas classics to beautiful brand new stories

Christmas stories and tales are a magical part of the holiday season - and a special book always has a place in any Christmas sack. This collection of books includes stories about Christmas that are unusual, or beautifully presented - or both. From clever cut-outs to fabulous pop-ups, via a book carousel, we've large books and mini stocking fillers for you. We've picked some of the most magical Christmas stories & tales - both brand new and classics for you to enjoy.

Let us know if we’ve missed any of your favourites that should be on the list, by commenting below.

Follow The Star - A Pop-up Christmas Journey

This is an unusual pop up book, as you turn it sideways to get the full pop-up effect across both pages. The story is of the Christmas star as it makes it’s way through the Christmas story. The silver foil star complements the red foil cover and it can be found on every page, atop a Christmas tree, over the stable in Bethlehem and lighting up Santa’s way.

Follow The Star - A Pop-up Christmas Journey, Amanda Wood, Illustrated by Andy Mansfield (Templar) £14.99 at Waterstones

The Girl Who Saved Christmas

A brand new book and a brand new tale. We love this book because it’s a new and unusual story, that works on two levels: keeping the Christmas magic alive and bringing a new tale to the seasonal stable. It is a great book for all ages - for reading to little ones for teens (and tweens). The book follows the tale of Amelia - a girl trapped in the Victorian workhouse - and of Father Christmas who needs her help to save Christmas. This story is the sequel to A Boy Called Christmas, another Matt Haig book and we recommend both.

The Girl Who Saved Christmas, Matt Haigh, (Canongate) £12.99 Canongate online, Two book set: £20, Canongate online.

The Magical Book of Christmas Tales

It’s not a pop-up, but a sliding picture book, the magic of which is in the changing pictures that little ones love. The book comprises two Christmas classics - The Nutcracker and The Night Before Christmas, with six scene changing pages. The illustrations are really lovely and the gatefold pages and cut out cover all add a special feel. Printed in 2009 by Scholastic, it is definitely worth searching for an excellent condition copy on Waterstones Marketplace or other book depository site.

The Magical Book of Christmas Tales, Susannah Lockheart (Scholastic), available from Waterstones Marketplace.

The First Christmas

Jan Pienkowski’s First Christmas tells the story of the Nativity with beautiful illustrations, with black silhouettes and decorative silver highlights, against brilliant jewel-like colours. The story’s Christmas scenes are interpreted through various settings, time periods and moods. They are a bit spooky and a bit gory, which some kids love (and others don’t) but, either way, it’s an imaginative, beautifully designed book for families and collectors alike.

The First Christmas, Jan Pienkowski, (Penguin) mini edition, £5.99 Waterstones.


The book is brand new but the story, as they say, is a tale as old as time… This beautiful poem is by the Georgian poet and has been lovingly and carefully brought to life by Carolina Rabei’s glorious artwork. A lovely winter wonderland of illustrations, it really lets the words sing through. It is perfectly beautiful to read at bedtime, or on Christmas afternoon after a crisp afternoon stroll.

Snow, by Walter de la Mare, illustrated by Caroline Rabei, (Faber & Faber), £12.08 hardback Amazon, £6.99 paperback, Waterstones.

The Night Before Christmas: A Magical Pop-up Edition

This is a little mini edition book, (around 15cm wide) and perfect for stocking fillers, or for adult gift treats. The classic Christmas poem is brought to life with stunning black and white illustrations, cup-paper pages and a two page pop-up finale. The story is told through scenes from a family home and feels festive, with little characters and, of course, St Nicholas himself. A lovely gift.

The Night Before Christmas: A Magical Pop-up Edition, Clement C. Moore, illustrated by Niroot Puttapipat, (Walker Books). Available on Amazon.

The 12 Days of Christmas and The Christmas Story

Technically, we’re stretching to two books here. Robert Sabuda makes incredibly detailed, stunning and intricate pop-up books. If you love a pop-up, take a look at his entire range, which includes classics such as Alice in Wonderland, Beauty and The Beast and The Little Mermaid to name just a few of our favourites! His two most famous (and lovely) Christmas books are The Christmas Story - a pop-up of the nativity and The 12 Days of Christmas, all about the song. Both books hit the sweet spots of traditional and fun - and make an unusual and beautiful gift, or two.

The Christmas Story, Robert Sabuda (Walker Books), £25, at Waterstones.

The 12 Days of Christmas Anniversary Edition, Robert Sabuda (Simon & Schuster), £19.99 at Waterstones.

Little Christmas Tree

Brand new for 2016 - and destined to become a Christmas classic. Little Christmas Tree is a glorious lift-the-flap exploration of nature from. In the story, on one white and snowy night, a little Christmas tree stands alone in the forest. Everything is white and lifeless. As the night goes on, there are signs of life. An orange fox, a red-breasted robin, a cloud of fireflies ... By the end of the book, the little Christmas tree is transformed by nature.

Little Christmas Tree, Ruth Symons, illustrated by Jessica Courtney-Tickle, (Big Picture Press), £10.99 at Amazon.

First Noel - Carousel Book

Another Jan Jan Pienkowski book, and another one that is visually stunning. You turn the book back on itself and tie the covers together to create a standalone carousel. The cut out silhouettes are detailed and intricate - and the white and grey, set against the red background feels as stylish as it is Christmassy. It’s not a book to hand to tiny tots, but rather to enjoy with them. Alternatively, put it up high as a Christmas display and theme other decorations around it.

First Noel - Carousel book, Jan Pienkowski, (Walker books, £10.99) Available on Amazon, or Waterstones Marketplace.

Santa’s Christmas handbook

A clever Christmas themed book, written for Santa by his elves, to keep him on track on the festive eve! It contains lots of interesting tabs to lift and discover and is beautifully illustrated, with something new on every page. There are pictures, ideal for the Tom Gates generation that loves a note-filled book. Another one you need to hunt for, but absolutely worth the effort. Find it on Amazon or Waterstones Marketplace.

Santa’s Christmas Handbook, Chris Edge (Templar). Available from Amazon or Waterstones Marketplace.

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