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The Really Popular Book Club is the reading group hosted by Cambridge University Libraries. Everyone is invited to join us and our special guests to discuss a really popular book, one that we all know and perhaps or perhaps not love.

This December we will be discussing three outstanding books by Raymond Briggs, who died in August this year, which are all associated in our minds with Christmas. The first two are Father Christmas and its sequel Father Christmas Goes on Holiday, the first of which won the Greenaway Medal and both of which were pioneering reinventions of Santa. Briggs, whose father was a milkman, turned Santa from a regal, rich or saintly figure into a grumpy working man. The Snowman, now a Christmas classic, was set by Briggs in January: the Christmas element of the story was introduced by the animators. But our idea of Christmas has been changed by all three.

Our special guest to the evening is Nicolette Jones. Nicolette is the children’s books reviewer of The Sunday Times and has written two books about Raymond Briggs, the latest of which is Raymond Briggs in Thames & Hudson’s series, The Illustrators. She was nominated for the Eleanor Farjeon award for her outstanding contribution to the world of children's books and is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. She is also the co-curator of the Raymond Briggs retrospective exhibition coming to the Cambridge University Library in April 2023.

Nicolette, declaring her interest, chaired the Booktrust panel that gave Briggs his Lifetime Achievement Award. Working with Raymond on both books and the exhibition involved lunches and chats and clambering about in his attic, and Nicolette’s own Christmases will now not be the same without Briggs’s scatological Christmas cards.

As well as hearing from Nicolette about her thoughts and observations, we will once again be opening the floor up to you, our club members, to share your own observations and remarks. To get you thinking and to help prepare any comments or questions you might want to share, we have prepared three starter questions: 

1. The Snowman is a wordless picturebook. Why and what does this add?
2. What does Briggs’s Father Christmas have to tell us about class?
3. Where do you think Father Christmas should have gone on holiday?

Further information about The Really Popular Book Club, including our FAQs, can be found here.

Where: Online via Zoom Meetings

Registration: Free, booking essential. REGISTER HERE

Date: Wednesday 14 December 2022

7pm to 8pm