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The Children’s Book Blog Christmas Countdown: The Tailor of Gloucester by Beatrix Potter

Rebecca Davies

15 The Tailor of Gloucestor The Children’s Book Blog Christmas Countdown: The Tailor of Gloucester by Beatrix PotterFor December I’ve decided to turn the children’s book blog into a sort of literary advent calendar. Every day of the month I’ll be posting a short recommendation of a wintry or Christmassy children’s book to warm your cockles or, in some cases, chill the blood. There’ll be something for readers of all ages, from picture books all the way up to YA. My choice for December 15th is Beatrix Potter’s ‘The Tailor of Gloucester’.

‘In the time of swords and periwigs and full-skirted coats with flowered lappets – when gentlemen wore ruffles, and gold-laced waistcoats of paduasoy and taffeta – there lived a tailor in Gloucester.’

So begins Beatrix Potter’s charming little fable about an elderly tailor who is saved from ruin by mice. It’s the sort of opening sentence that makes you settle back in your chair, preferably with a mug of hot chocolate, safe in the knowledge that a masterly tale is about to be told.

The story is dedicated to Freda Moore, the daughter of Potter’s former governess, and was presented to her in time for Christmas 1901. It’s set at Christmastime, too, and the illustrations are full of snowy streets and glowing fireplaces – my favourite is of the tailor’s cat, Simpkin, anthropomorphically offering his master a cup of tea while bearing an expression of utterly feline disdain.

For me, this book is right up there with the The Tale of Samuel Whiskers (Potter’s finest as far as I’m concerned), partly because of its cosy Christmassy theme, but mainly because it feels full of the promise that magic – real magic – might just exist.

Check back tomorrow to see which book is lurking behind the ‘calendar door’ for December 16th and catch up on my previous recommendations here

Rebecca Davies is a journalist and children’s author. She is currently working on a Young Adult fantasy novel set in Hackney. You can follow her on Twitter as @TheStoryMonster

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