Dame Emma Thompson Talks Her New Children’s Book, “Jim’s Spectacular Christmas”
Dame Emma Thompson may be best-known for her impressive acting chops, but she’s got some serious talent as a writer as well. The Academy Award-winning actor, who starred as the eccentric Sybill Trelawney in the Harry Potter film series, is the author of an adorable new children’s book titled Jim’s Spectacular Christmas.
In a new interview with the Guardian, Thompson and illustrator Axel Scheffler discussed their unexpected friendship and first official literary collaboration in the festive new read.
The pair first connected over three decades ago when Thompson sent Scheffler a letter asking the illustrator if he would accept a commission for a piece commemorating the performance of Hamlet starring her then boyfriend Kenneth Branagh and sister, Sophie Thompson. Thankfully, Scheffler obliged, sending Thompson two pictures that she treasures to this day.
Thompson and Scheffler continued a correspondence for the ensuing decades, exchanging gifts for special occasions despite having yet to meet in person. The duo is finally working together in an official capacity with their collaboration on the new picture book, which was released on October 27.
Jim’s Spectacular Christmas follows a grubby little dog named Jim, who was inspired by the real-life dog of Sir Henry Cole, who is credited as the inventor of the commercial Christmas card in the 19th century. In Thompson’s take on the story, the dog is “rescued from life as a canine chimney brush after tumbling down a flue in a cloud of soot into a gathering of museum worthies.” From there, the tale follows the invention of the holiday greeting as Jim presents Queen Victoria with the very first commercial Christmas card. Scheffler re-creates Cole’s original card design for the book.
Though the book maintains a humorous tone, it remains accurate to the real history behind the tale, with a few quirky tweaks here and there such as Thompson’s less-than-favorable depiction of royal corgis.
I just feel as though the corgis might be a bit spoilt. But I think actually it’s very likely that the Queen [Elizabeth] was quite fierce with them and that they were very well trained.
Thompson, who has also written three Peter Rabbit children’s books, spoke of her love for the genre:
I love writing for children. I think it’s perhaps a legacy from dad.
Children’s writing is a Thompson family affair indeed, with her sister, Sophie, also delving into the world of children’s books and their father, Eric, creating the children’s television show The Magic Roundabout.
The actor had already written the story herself and had even created her own character sketches before approaching Scheffler about collaborating on Jim’s Spectacular Christmas. While she didn’t expect to venture into picture books, she felt Cole’s story called her to do so.
Will you be reading Jim’s Spectacular Christmas this holiday season? Let us know!