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[IYL Finds | DiverseKidLit] A French Santa in “La Père Noël dans tous ses états”

Myra here.

Our theme for this month’s Favorite Holiday Books. (Please feel free to share any holiday resources, not just winter holidays.) The theme is only a suggestion. Diverse posts on alternate topics are always welcome.

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Upcoming Theme

Our theme for the current linkup is Favorite Holiday Books. Themes are a suggestion only; all diverse book posts are welcome. If you’re interested, you can start planning now for our upcoming themes …

  • January 7th and 21st linkups: Human Rights. In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which is celebrated in the US in January, think about your favorite books to share with children about the importance and the history of human rights and/or civil rights.
  • February 4th and 18th linkups: Love. Let’s spread the love of diverse books by sharing diverse books about love, families, and relationships.

Most Clicked Post from Last Time

Our most-clicked post from last time from The Barefoot Mommy: 15 Diverse and Inclusive Books about Christmas. Rebekah includes an overview of each book as well as a downloadable felt ornament craft. The stories showcase a wide range of cultures and countries celebrating Christmas, some focusing on the holiday and others happening around that time. A great place to start for thinking about this linkup’s holiday theme!


I am glad to be sharing another picturebook that I discovered through my stay at the International Youth Library in Munich. I originally intended to share a different title, but seeing that we have a holiday theme today for #diversekidlit which just might fit into our legendary/mythical creature theme (something that happens rarely), I thought I might as well share this international title about the legendary Santa Claus.


Le père Noël dans tous ses états (Father Christmas In All His States)

Written by: Valerie Dayre
Illustrated by: Yann Fastier
Published by: L’atelier du poisson soluble, 2009
ISBN: 9782913741

From what I understand, the definition of diversity (or multiculturalism) in children’s books also include international titles – books which are published in their original language in their country of origin. And since we very rarely have access to these kinds of books, particularly the ones which have not been translated into the English language, I thought this would make for a particularly good sharing. This is one of my wonderful finds while being a research fellow at the International Youth Library in Munich.


Check out my workspace right there in the largest international children’s literature library in the world housed in a castle with a real swan lake. Ain’t it sweet?

In this not-very-cheery-and-sobering Yuletide title, the reader gets to see Santa Claus in his many states of being. I used Google Translate for me to have an idea what the story is about, although I am more than certain that most of the nuances were not captured through my crude (but sadly, only) method of translation.


As you can see in the image above, this book is not really difficult to translate since it contains mostly captions (as opposed to full textual narratives) of striking images that serve to make the reader think. This picturebook utilizes a very effective interlayering of image and text conveying the subtleties that can not be captured in words, but only through powerful art.


It also humanizes the face of Santa Claus, as one who has to pay his bills, possibly between jobs even, with this ‘gig’ as Father Christmas being his way to put food on the table. There is a palpable sense of heaviness here belied by the joyful nature of the event that is being celebrated.


One of the things that I was intrigued by is the portrayal of the psychological preparation required to take on the role of Santa, this being a job that will ultimately serve to pay bills.

If I were to examine this picturebook even more closely, even the play with colours may signify something with the preponderance of the Yuletide colours, red and green; whereas the sketches of Santa with the children are in monochrome. There is really much to be explored in this title, and for that matter, European titles that have not been translated in English. I believe that this story also shows that there are various ways of celebrating, and that there are stories behind the Ho-Ho-Hos, the white beard, and the red Santa outfit that are worth reflecting upon.

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Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

3 comments on “[IYL Finds | DiverseKidLit] A French Santa in “La Père Noël dans tous ses états”

  1. The majority of the picture books we get here are American, which is a real shame – I’ve been able to explore quite a few European titles over the years, and so many of them seem to really push boundaries and explore new ideas in exciting new ways. Sadly the big publishing houses are too often unwilling to take a chance on a book that might not be easily marketable, which means we miss out on some truly great books!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Very different book. I like the human part of Santa.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: [Saturday Reads | IYL Finds] Life-Saving Translator Photo App for non-English Picturebooks – Gathering Books

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