This Christmas classic needs no introduction at all. Such is its originality and brilliance it is widely known and loved by parents and children alike. Why the need to include it in a bookish Advent Calendar you may ask? Well, this is why…
In preparation for this Christmas venture I asked my adult son which was his favourite Christmas picture book from childhood. Without hesitation he said “The Jolly Christmas Postman.” Why? “Because it’s brilliant,” was the reply. A little later I asked the same question of his brother. “Oh, A Jolly Christmas Postman, it’s got to be.” His dad then joined in saying how much he had loved sharing the book with them and immediately recited the opening lines perfectly, lines which he last read aloud about twenty five years ago. Then three grown men sat down and chatted about “the little book”, “that great game” and “the brilliant concertina bit at the end.” That is why I had to include it. This wonderful book has become a touchstone in our memories of family Christmases long gone. It matters because it brings back recollections of very happy times and shared experiences and it takes a wonderful children’s book to do that.
From the opening lines when the Jolly Postman appears (him again!) this has a soothing familiarity to it. The references to fairy tales and nursery rhymes that small readers will recognise add to the reassuring sense of entering a world that you already understand. However it is the interactive element that young children find irresistible. In the days before book apps the Ahlbergs created the perfect tool for engaging children with a charming and inspired variety of treats. The card to Baby Bear, Red Riding Hood’s jolly game, the little storybook and the jigsaw of Humpty Dumpty that my sons reassembled over and over again ensured the longevity of this book’s success.
The final present for the Jolly Postman himself is the treat that our family remember and love the most. The concertina card is a joy and watching children’s faces when they look through the gap at the scene behind is a treat. Earlier this month I shared the book with a little girl who is learning to speak English. She loved it and examined the contents of every envelope carefully, her face lighting up when she saw each item. You don’t need to speak the language or understand the text to know that the Jolly Christmas Postman is a very special Christmas book indeed.