The First Christmas Jumper is the second children’s book by Ryan Tubridy, the Irish television presenter best known for being the current host of The Late Late Show. Inspired by his own fondness for Christmas jumpers, it tells the story of Hillary, a sheep with rainbow-coloured wool who loves Christmas. Hillary lives in a field with the other sheep owned by jelly baby-obsessed Farmer Jimmy, and she can most often be found daydreaming – again, usually about Christmas. One year, Santa Claus is on the hunt for the perfect sheep’s wool with which to make a jumper to keep warm during his annual present rounds – could Hillary’s multi-coloured fleece be just what he’s looking for?
The story is told with the humour and warmth essential to any children’s story, but particularly one set at Christmas. Hillary is described as a character in great detail – as well as her fondness for Christmas, she also enjoys making lists, and her relationships with her fellow sheep are given a great deal of focus as well. Added to the mix are a number of puns related to both sheep and pop culture, one example being that Santa brought the latest album by ‘Ewe 2’ for Hillary the previous year, and another being that her favourite Christmas song is Fleece Navidad (they get better or worse depending on how you feel about puns). Tubridy’s first picture book, Patrick and the President, was shortlisted for an Irish Book Award, and it’s possible that his follow up could have similar success.
As well as the festive pun-laden narrative, the story is brought to life by the illustrations of Chris Judge, the author and illustrator of the award-winning The Lonely Beast. Despite being in black and white, even the colours of Hillary’s amazing fleece are brought out, and many of the images enhance the humour of the text and bring it to life.
A genuinely funny, sweet and heart-warming Christmas story, The First Christmas Jumper certainly has the potential to become a modern festive classic in children’s books.
Images courtesy of Walker Books, who have published The First Christmas Jumper (and the Sheep Who Changed Everything) by Ryan Tubridy and Chris Judge.
The First Christmas Jumper is out now, published by Walker Books.