new books / reading

Merry Christmas, Mog! – by Emma Barnes

One of my favourite book characters has been in the limelight this December – Mog!


Yes, that famously forgetful cat has been featuring in her own short Christmas film (actually an advert for a certain supermarket), a newly released picture book and of course there are also the other eleven books in the series.

I love Mog, and although I’m not a great one for getting excited too early about Christmas (I’ll admit it, I’m a bit of a Grinch) I’m more than happy to see her ushering in the festive season on our screens. Here’s the link to the film, just in case you’ve missed it.


Do you notice the old lady in the film? That’s Judith Kerr, the creator of Mog and illustrator and writer of all the Mog books. (I don’t think she would mind my describing her as an old lady, if she should read this, as she is over ninety years old.)

Judith Kerr is a bit of a heroine of mine. She is a wonderful, wonderful writer, and a very charming person too. (No, I haven’t actually met her but I was in the audience a few years ago when she appeared to talk about her life and career at the Edinburgh International Book Festival. It was the best author event I’ve ever been to).

One of the things I admire about Judith Kerr is her range. Most authors have a speciality – they write funny picture books, or thoughtful middle grade novels, or memoirs…but Kerr excels in all of these.

First there are her picture books, which include not only Mog but the classic The Tiger Who Came To Tea.

But she has also written for a much older audience, in books based upon her own childhood as a refugee from Nazi Germany. She is the “Anna” of these books, which begin with When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit.


Like her picture books, these older novels (collectively known as Out of the Hitler Time) are now classics. Although Judith Kerr’s family had to flee from Germany, her parents losing their money and careers, Judith Kerr enjoyed her childhood, finding it a great adventure, and that spirit shines through the books making them a really enjoyable read.

Finally, for a writer like me, another of Kerr’s books is especially interesting – her memoir Judith Kerr’s Creatures – because it explains how she created her stories, and actually shows the sketches and manuscripts for some of her books. You can see how she created Mog, stage by stage. (And it’s Mog, it really is, right from the first squiggle.) For anyone who writes, or wants to write, for children, I’d definitely recommend getting hold of a copy. (I’ve written a more detailed review here.)


Merry Christmas, to both Mog and her creator!

[To find out more about Emma Barnes and the books she writes, go to Emma’s Amazon page.]


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