I mentioned yesterday, that I was going to show you the first 'Dear Father Christmas' book today, didn't I? It was the book that inspired 'Dear father Christmas, Get Well Soon' (which I showed you in yesterdays post). I've done a few books since finishing 'Dear Father Christmas', but I still have a sharp recollection of listening to Christmas carols (to get me in the right Christmas mood), my studio being covered in Christmas decorations, and all my reference material being snow filled scenes. And that was when it was the middle of Summer. So when you look through the pages of this book, maybe you'll agree that I managed to enter into the Christmas spirit pretty well, all things considered.
"Dear Father Christmas".
It's the first of December, and Holly has written to Father Christmas with a query. She's seen someone in her local shopping centre, who calls himself Father Christmas. Holly wants to know if it was REALLY Father Christmas himself?!
Now just as an aside, I was talking to a lady the other day, who went to Lapland with her children last year, and saw Father Christmas, went on a sleigh ride, and did other lovely things. Her son is old enough to remember this experience, and he remembers seeing the REAL Father Christmas. Well, when he sees Father Christmas in shopping centres and garden centres now, apparently he's totally dismissive of these 'imposters'. He tells his Mummy that he's seen the real thing, and I think he's a bit non-plussed by all these other chaps.
So I can see exactly where Holly is coming from, and I'd be interested to know what Father Christmas has to say about this, wouldn't you? Let's find out!Aa-ha! I have the letter Father Christmas wrote to Holly, right here in my hand, and here is the answer. Those men are all Father Christmas's helpers! They are acting on his behalf, 'representing him', so-to-speak.
Holly can't quite believe Father Christmas wrote back to her! And being the inquisitive girl that she is, makes the most of the fact that she has 'the ear' of Father Christmas himself, and writes back with more questions.
(You go for it Holly!)
You can see Holly's house on the left. At the time I was illustrating this story, there was a bit of a discussion as to how many Christmas lights I could put on Holly's house. Me being me, wanted to cover it in loads of sparkle. In the end, a compromise was reached, and I was allowed to put in what you see above. When it came to the Elf's trail of sparkle, I decided it was perfectly acceptable to have it SPARKLE. It is Christmas after all, and this is magic.
If there was one thing I particularly enjoyed about illustrating this book, it was the world of father Christmas. The author, Alan Durant, wanted there to be many more spreads showing Holly's world, but there was one thing I wasn't going to pass up on showing, and which in my book is far more interesting, and that is the world of Father Christmas.
Shall I get back to the story now?
Holly receives another letter from Father Christmas, answering Holly's questions. But in the envelope with father Christmas's letter is something extra EXTRA special!
Father Christmas, in his letters, keeps on asking Holly what she would like for Christmas. She knows what she wants, but she doesn't dare ask. As a divirting tactic, she keeps on sending letters with questions in them instead. It's a good thing Father Christmas is such a nice, patient person, isn't it?
Another gift, along with a letter from Father Christmas! And you'll never guess what, you don't have be Holly, in the pages of this book to enjoy Father Christmas's gift, because.............................
(And being such a stickler for detail, I made sure I painted a back view of Father Christmas too).
Holly at this point, is trying to pluck up the courage to ask Father Christmas for what she really, really wants. But that's not before she's asked a few more important questions.
Father Christmas was busy feeding the Reindeer some special treats, when the Elf arrives with Holly's latest questions. Among other questions she asks, Holly wants to know if Father Christmas really does like mince pies. Good question that, very good question! I wonder, does Father Christmas REALLY like mince pies?
In Father Christmas's reply, he gently reminds Holly that time is running out, and he would like to know what she'd like for Christmas. In with the letter, father Christmas pops something rather fab.
A Reindeer guide! How cool is that? It folds out, and on both sides it's jam packed with things you might like to know about Reindeer, highly entertaining things of course. On one side of the fold-out, you get to know what makes a Reindeer laugh. I've always wanted to know that, and now I can. Would you like a quick peek at what makes a Reindeer Laugh?
I had such FUN drawing and painting these Reindeer doing their crazy little things! I was given the jokes, and I had to come up with the pictures, there were no directions as to what to draw and paint, as with the whole book.
When Holly reads Father Christmas's latest letter, she realises time is running out, and she'd better come out with it, and tell Father Christmas what she wants. So she writes back to him.................At this point, I've realised I forgot to photograph the next spread. It's a real shame it's too dark to photograph it now, because it's a magical scene. From a distant vantage point, you get to see the top of the mountain Father Christmas's house is built on. And spreading out below the house are all the little cottages the Elves live in, with the lights on, casting lovely reflections on the snow. And all the Pine trees amongst the cottages are decorated with fairy lights. The little street lamps are lit, wisps of smoke come from the chimneys, and there are tiny footprints in the snow, leading from the Elves cottages up to Father Christmas's house. You can also see the tiny silhouettes of the Elves, waving to Father Christmas in his sleigh, and the Reindeer, as they set off on Christmas eve.
And now for the next picture.
It's a ticket, and he's holding it in his hand, in the picture above.
It's a ticket for 'one sleigh ride'!
I can not believe it, I've bloomin well not photographed the sleigh ride! I'm so sorry, this wasn't done on purpose to tantalise you, I don't know what happened, I'm really sorry about this.
Well, the missing picture is a magical scene of Holly on the sleigh with Father Christmas, woolly hat, mittens and scarf on, tucked up under her own special blanket, speeding through the night sky as the reindeer pull the sleigh along.
When Holly returns home, she realises she hasn't been dreaming, because there is an envelope at the bottom of her bed, and when she looks out of her window, she can see Father Christmas speeding off into the distance. Holly's wish, that she dared not ask, has come true!
And what's in the last envelope?
It's Holly's ticket, as areminder of her sleigh ride, and on the front is the above picture.
And the image MOVES! You turn it this way and that and the figures wave, and the Reindeer nod their heads, making the stockings sway back and forwards. I understand the technical term fro this wizardry is a 'Lenticular'.
Look, I'll move the card slightly, and you can see the figures move their arms:
It was a HUGE amount of fun illustrating this story, and I put an enormous amount of work into it, making sure I paid attention to the tiniest detail. I think my favourite gift in this book is the Lenticular, there's just something magical about an image that moves.
I think I might be ready for a warming Sherry, sitting by the wood burning stove downstairs. I do hope you enjoyed this bedtime story?! It's made me feel very Christmasy indeed, I can almost hear jingle bells outside................... Maybe I should look out of the window? What do you think?
Have a lovely weekend, my dear, dear readers, and see you next week!
Love Vanessa xxx