Peter Collington does not need words to convey the Christmas message in A Small Miracle (Red Fox $85). Through his artwork alone he tells a challenging story for adults and children alike, about an old woman ignored by a selfishly merry community and robbed of the only money she has at the end of a lonely, cold Christmas Eve. But after collapsing in the snow, the miracle happens. The church crib figures she saved from the thief come to life, carry her home and sell their gifts for Jesus, using the proceeds to visit the supermarket and purchase her Christmas cheer. This story, like Jan Pancheri's The Little Angel (Hutchison $135) reminds us all that Christmas is really about giving, not receiving, and doing something for the less fortunate. Pancheri's angel child is determined to follow other angels to Earth to spread goodwill. She tries almost in vain to help an old man who, like Collington's woman, is in danger of freezing to death on Christmas Eve. But this story ends on a more optimistic note. Her guiding star that hovers over his house causes the community to rally round to the old man's needs. Familiar Christmas images of snow, angels and Father Christmas recur in Once Upon A Christmas Time (Hutchison $220), a collection of stories and poems by favourite authors and illustrators such as Shirely Hughes, Susie Jenkin-Pearce and Jane Hissey. Father Christmas helps Penguin return to the South Pole in Jenkin-Pearce's 'Penguin' and and Shirely Hughes offers a wintry poem in 'Wild Weather'. On Christmas Day In The Morning, illustrated by Melissa Sweet and with a foreword by John Langstaff (Walker $170) is an unusual carol that small children can sing along to. With words like 'There was a pig went out to dig, on Christmas Day' and matched by comic watercolours, this has nothing more to do with the original Christmas story than the Once Upon A Christmas Time collection. But Langstaff writes an interesting foreword about the rural origins of this song sung by farmers during winter planting time, often in animal costume. Sweet, meanwhile, explains the traditional significance of plants associated with Christmas, such as mistletoe and holly, that are featured in her delightfully quirky, gold-tinted pictures. Many parents will remember Richard Adams' superb Watership Down, a novel about rabbit heroics and their underground society. But this Christmas they may be giving their children Watership Down, The Winter Adventure (Red Fox $118), by Diana Redmond. Hazel, Fiver and the other rabbits have been sold for television, from which this story of their quest to secure a winter feast is based. It is not a patch on the original, but young children will enjoy this illustrated gift version, which comes with a snow globe. Rabbits and their friends have been turned into classic children's books in the Foxwood Collection, by Cynthia and Brian Paterson (Hutchison $220). Paterson's delicate watercolours rival those of Beatrix Potter for rural nostalgia and animal sentimentalism. Surprisingly, they have only been written since 1985. The handsome collection includes a Christmas story, 'The Magic Sleigh', in which the animals find a sleigh that takes them to meet a badger version of Father Christmas.