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Issue 1235 - Happy Rexmas!

Every year we worry that the postbag will not contain what it did before. And then envelopes open and out tumble the best – THE BEST! – drawings and paintings and prints and bits of paper and glitter and glue and hundreds upon hundreds of entries for our kids' Christmas cover competition. Which makes it all the more difficult to get through them and settle on just one winner.

But settle we must, and here it is, from eight-year-old Joe Evans from Lichfield. Dinosaurs in Santa hats that are just a little too small, and a cracking coverline pun. To Joe we say, bravo! And to everyone else (and we’ve printed as many entries as we can in the mag. Thank you for doing it at all, for such focus and imagination. And to the parents and teachers and grandparents – and you may well be one – thank you. And to our friends at The Week Junior for supporting it this year.

To stay with a theme, we bring the kids books of the year run-down – those for infants to early teens. It is a collection that includes books from Oliver Jeffers, big names like Judith Kerr and some that you’ll want to read before passing over as a gift.

We bring details of Sandwell Valley School in West Bromwich. It's an independent school with a difference, focusing on teenagers who’ve dropped out – or been dropped out – of mainstream education. It was opened with the help of early investment by Big Issue Invest and is a great success story and points a way forward for an under-pressure education system.

John Bird looks at education and the need to overhaul the system following Mark Carney’s warning of mass automation in the workforce.

We asked actor, writer and general raconteur Alan Cumming if he’d like to interview Nicola Sturgeon for us. He said yes. He and the Scottish First Minister sat down and the result – covering Brexit, Trump, plans for a second independence referendum, and whether Sturgeon would dump Theresa May in goo – is very entertaining.

We also have Katherine Jenkins with her Letter to My Younger Self; the great gentleman of British comedy John Lloyd has created an exclusive QI quiz for Big Issue; Robin Ince details the radio we need to tune into over Christmas; Steven MacKenzie speaks to the blink-and-you-miss-them characters from Star Wars, who’ve gone on to make a living at appearing at conventions - Boba Fett features.

And, as always, much more.

Please note once this edition is no longer on sale with Big Issue vendors (from Monday 19th December) it will be classed as a 'back issue'. All back issues are priced at £4 per copy plus P&P

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