We are excited to welcome Siobhan Parkinson to the FCBG blog today, sharing some insights into Evie’s Christmas Wishes. This charming book is truly special!
The initial impetus for Evie’s Christmas Wishes came from Little Island. They wanted to make a very special picturebook for children from about three or four that would portray a traditional Christmas, with the nativity play, the plum pudding, the letter to Santa Claus, the pantomime, the Christmas tree … and a trip to the airport to welcome someone special home for Christmas.
We discussed the various scenes we would want to include to make a book that would reflect how families celebrate Christmas traditionally, and scenes where we could show children from different backgrounds enjoying the season together. We decided to call our main character (who is about five or six) Evie. She thinks she is called after Christmas Eve – and who would contradict her?
As I was writing the very simple text for each scene, I was imagining how Evie would be feeling as the Christmas preparations are made and the anticipation builds. Children do wish a lot around Christmas time, and not just for toys and games: they invest emotionally in the whole idea of Christmas as a magical time of year, and they wish also for things like a white Christmas and for everything to be lovely and cosy and the family all to be together. These more nebulous wishes are often not expressed. So I came up with the simple storyline that, throughout the book, Evie would be enjoying the anticipation but keeping most of her hopes and wishes to herself.
I wanted to grant Evie’s wishes, but I didn’t want to create a story that was all about the main character getting everything they want. And so developed the idea that Evie’s wishes would come true – but, within the framework of a realistic story, not always in the way she expects.
On the very first page, for example, Evie wishes she had a singing part in the school play; later in the story, when the play is performed, Evie doesn’t magically have a major role, but she does get to sing along. When she sees a reindeer in a shop window display, she wishes she had a reindeer. Not a very practical wish, so I had her find a reindeer later in the story among the decorations for the Christmas tree.
And then it occurred to me that as an only child, Evie might secretly be wishing for a sibling. Not a wish that is all that easily granted – but you will have to read the book to find out how this one turns out.
The plan was to make a book that would be treasured by children and their parents and grandparents and be passed along in the future to new generations of children, so Little Island chose to make a sturdy hardback with lovely thick paper – and of course the illustrations had to be extra specially beautiful. We were delighted to discover the talented young Shannon Bergin, who really ‘got’ the story, and her gorgeous, richly painted illustrations make this very much a book that will be loved and treasured by young and old.
Evie’s Christmas Wishes is published by Little Island and is available from their online shop. https://littleisland.ie/books/evies-christmas-wishes/