Interview with Marta Comín, the author of My Little Christmas Tree Carousel
How did the book My Little Christmas Tree Carousel come about?
Well, Christmas is a very evocative season. I had never worked this topic in any of my books and I was really looking forward to it. If you think about it, the tree is an element that brings together the whole of Christmas: the snow, the lights, the presents… So I thought of talking about Christmas through a tree, a tree that was a character. While drawing, this smiling nose appeared and I fell in love with it. Usually the cover is the last thing you design when you make a book, but in this case it was the first.
It is a book-object and you shared on IG that, although it doesn’t say “ho-ho-ho”, it gives 360º hugs. How do you expect it to be read or manipulated?
As a book you can read it in a linear way and discover a new dimension of the tree, page by page. The text accompanies the discovery almost like a riddle: What is sweet as a biscuit and bright as a starry sky? My little tree!
It is nice to name the virtues: sweet, gentle, kind, elegant, etc. And also to recognise and name shapes, colours and objects. As an object, the tree takes on body and space, puts its feet on the ground and unfolds almost like a garland, like a star. I would love them to play with it, to manipulate it to their heart’s content, biting it if necessary, to run their fingers along, to look at it from above, from below, to close it and open it with surprise and let it become an element that accompanies their games.
What was your inspiration for the project?
The source of inspiration was Christmas itself. In the West, Christmas festivities have a very rich imaginary where lights, holly, sweets, snowmen, reindeer, garlands, stars, bows, stockings and socks and jingle bells. For the project, I wanted to bring this universe closer to the world of early childhood by personifying the fir tree. This new way of looking at the tree, as a character full of life that accompanies encounters and gatherings, made me realise how magical, welcoming and generous it is.
Do you have any special Christmas memories? Any anecdotes with the tree?
Putting up the tree was my favourite thing to do. I suppose Christmas started there, when your parents took the tree box and the nativity scene out of the garage. That was the kick-off at home and it usually happened at the beginning of December. Setting it up was fun and putting up the lights at the end was exciting. My house was a place with, shall we say, a rather unartistic atmosphere. The decorations were rather sparse and austere and “creative” family activities just didn’t happen. So when the tree took over the living room everything changed. For my sister and me a very warm corner opened up, a space for fantasy and daydreaming that lasted three or four weeks.
You have created the Combel Christmas card. What did you want to convey? It’s funny how the little Christmas tree turns into… the Christmas star!
Well, here the credit for the idea is not mine. It was a colleague at Combel who saw the connection between the unfurled tree and the Christmas star. She called me to tell me about it and asked me if it was crazy. I said no, no, it’s a great idea, let’s give it shape!
I think it’s a beautiful idea, and I’m happy that she did this three-dimensional extension of the reading. Sweet as a biscuit, kind as a smile, bright as a starry sky, cheerful as a bell, elegant as a queen, splendid as a treasure, and now, yes, magical as the star of Bethlehem. My little Christmas tree!